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Is your toddler ready for preschool? 6 ways to know

Readiness for preschool can include a mix of physical, emotional and social characteristics unique to each child.

Is your toddler ready for preschool? 6 ways to know

Whether it’s your first child or fourth, sending your little one off to preschool for the first time can be an emotional time for any parent. As mom, you know all his little nuances and quirks, what makes him happy or sad. Now he is entering a new environment with other kids and new expectations. Even if he has been in daycare, somehow preschool is a all new, and somewhat intimidating.


How do you know if your child is really ready for this step?


1. Your child can handle being apart from you.

Whether your child has been in a child care situation before or not, preschool can be a big change. Consider whether your child seems ready for this new environment. are they ready to be apart from you for a few hours a day? Do they handle change or transitions well?

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At three to four years of age, kids handle separation from caregivers in a variety of ways—some cry, some need a transitional object (e.g., a lovey), and others separate easily. There is no right or wrong response to separation, and each child is unique. Using your well-honed mom instinct, you will probably know fairly soon if the leap to preschool is something your child can navigate or not. After a period of warming up, most kids end up adjusting well, but don’t be afraid to change plans if your child seems overly distressed by the change.

2. Your child is ready to interact with peers.

For my boys, this was the one key factor in determining it was time for preschool. They both tend to be fairly outgoing, and by the time they were around three years old, I was just not a good enough playmate for them. They wanted to play with kids their own age. Now, this is not to say that all kids leap at the chance to attend preschool, even if they are socially inclined. Even my little extroverts were a bit shy at first when meeting all the new faces. However, it was clear soon enough that they thrived when they had time to play with their classmates.

3. Peer interaction is one key part of preschool that sets it apart from day care.

Prior to about three years of age, most kids have not developed enough social maturity to interact much with peers. Have you ever seen a playdate among one-year-olds? They simply play next to one another, and hardly ever interact. This is typical, and once they reach preschool age, their ability to interact and enjoy their peers is much more developed. If your child seems like they’re ready to spend more time with peers, then they will probably enjoy preschool.

4. Everyone is on the same page about potty training.

This may seem obvious, but different preschools have different policies about how well children must be potty trained to attend. Some schools require students to be totally trained, with no accidents. Others know that accidents still happen and are equipped to deal with them.

It is good to be aware that the conflation of potty training and preschool attendance I can be a recipe for unnecessary stress. When it comes to potty training, children master this at widely varying rates. They might be social and intellectually ready for preschool, but still not able to stay dry all the time. Developmentally, this is nothing to lose sleep over, but preschool administrators often have difficulties with this. It’s helpful to consider how your child handles potty situations and see if it is a good match for the preschool’s expectations.

5. Your child can communicate their needs.

We all know that young children develop language skills at varying rates. Some three-year-olds can speak in full sentences, while others mostly talk in three to four-word phrases. This variation is to be expected.

If preschool is on the horizon for your child, you might want to consider if they have adequate language skills to explain their needs. Can your child communicate that they are hungry, need the bathroom or are hurt? Does your child feel comfortable talking to other adults, like a preschool teacher? With your miraculous mom powers, you probably always know what your youngster is trying to say, but it’s good to consider if other adults will be able to understand your child as well.

6. Your child and the preschool are a good match.

Depending on where you live, the sheer number of choices of preschools may have your head spinning. Finding a preschool that is a good match for your child’s temperament, and your goals, may take some time.

In recent years, there has been much discussion about the distinction between “play-based” and “academic” preschools. Much of the current research is showing that play-based preschools are ideal for long-term learning in young kids. In reality, preschools may often provide a mix of these two ends of the spectrum. And many offer times of child-led play along with short periods of more teacher-led time that focuses on academic skills.

The balance of play and skill-focused time is something to consider when choosing a preschool.


Think about your child’s temperament—if they are very active or extroverted, a school with limited play time or strict expectations about seated activities might not be a good fit. If your child loves being outdoors, then a school that focuses much of its time on academic work indoors is not going to be a hit with your child.

We all want our children to learn new skills in preschool, however, how each school accomplishes this task varies widely. Finding a school that fits well with your child’s innate temperament and interests will likely help you both be happier. Readiness for preschool can include a mix of physical, emotional and social characteristics unique to each child. By carefully considering your child’s needs and personality, you will be able to decide when the transition to preschool will work best.

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.

$159.99

Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!

$29.99

Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.

$29.99

Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌

$9.99

Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.

$14.99

Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.

$24.99

Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.

$8.99

Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.

$7.99


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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