Daycare Management

Getting used to the day-care center – theories for a successful start

Off to daycare – a new phase of life

When the toddler comes to the crèche of the day care center, it is not only something very special for the child, but also for the parents. A new phase of life begins for the whole family. The child is often away from home for a long period of time for the first time. It is important for everyone involved that the child arrives safely at the daycare center. Getting used to the nursery is particularly important.

After all, a successful adjustment will make the child feel comfortable in the day care center for a long time to come. If you keep the acclimatization period too short or too long, the child can suffer severe break-ins and regression. Crying children who resist staying in the crib are not nice to look at for anyone. In order to avoid these drops in the first place, some models have been developed to make it easier to get used to. The Berlin familiarization model is one of the best-known models. There should be a guideline for the acclimatization period, which can still be individually adapted to the child.

Getting used to the Berlin model

Most day-care centers follow the Berlin model when it comes to the acclimatization period for small children. This should help the children to experience the separation from their parents particularly gently. Because getting used to the crib is exciting. It is usually very difficult for toddlers to get used to their parents when they are seldom or not at all separated from their parents. If the acclimatization period is kept too short for these children, for example because the parents have to work quickly, it rarely works. Many children break into the crib after a few weeks and cry heartbreakingly when they are brought.

Therefore, educators should always make it clear to parents that there is little point in starting the acclimatization period with stress or pressure. Acclimatization according to the Berlin model can help educators to give parents a clear process. The best thing to do is to give parents a flyer with a description of the Berlin acclimatization model when they have registered the child in the daycare center. In this way they can adjust to the duration of the acclimatization in the crèche.

How does the Berlin familiarization model work?

The Berlin familiarization model is based on the attachment theory of John Bowlby. The model was developed by Hans-Joachim Laewen, Beate Andres and Éva Hédervari-Heller in the 1980s at the Infans Institute in Berlin. The model is intended to prevent children from getting more sick and more anxious than children who have been accustomed to for a longer period of time.

Not only does the length of time it takes to get used to the crèche play a role, but also a fixed reference person to whom the child can stick. The parents remain close to the child until they have managed to establish a bond with the caregiver. This prevents excessive demands and the child can take as much time as they need. The time can therefore vary between one and three weeks. Some children even need up to six weeks to really settle into daycare.

The process of acclimatization based on the Berlin model

The Berlin familiarization model is divided into four phases that build on each other:

  1. Phase: The basic phase
  2. Phase: The first separation
  3. Phase: The stabilization phase
  4. Phase: The final phase

The basic phase

In the basic phase, the child stays in the crèche with his or her parents. For an hour for three days. In the basic phase it is particularly important that the parents do not withdraw. You stay close to the child, play with them when the parents tell them to and help them when they ask for help. However, you should not offer yourself to do so if the child does not ask you to play.

It is important that the child learns to be safe and confident in the new environment. The reference educator should sit nearby and follow the basic phase from a distance. If the child makes contact with the educator on their own initiative, they can respond positively. Body contact such as swaddling should be avoided. If the child has to be swaddled, the caregiver goes with you, but lets the parents do the work.

The first separation

The first separation: The second phase begins with the first separation. This takes place on the fourth day of acclimatization, but should not happen on a Monday. If it is a Monday, the first separation is postponed to the fifth day. The first separation serves to be able to estimate how long the child will still need to get used to the daycare. For the first separation, the child first comes into the group with their parents. The parents now wait until the child has turned to a game. Then they go to the child and say goodbye to him.

The educators have to tell the parents in advance that they will have to stay in the crèche on this day so that they can be brought back quickly if necessary. Now there are two options. The child cries and does not allow himself to be comforted by the caregiver, then the parents are brought back. If the child continues to play unimpressed or is easily distracted while crying, the parents are brought back after half an hour.

The stabilization phase

The third phase is for stabilization. If the first attempt at separation worked well, you can repeat the same procedure as the day before. The parents can now stay away for up to an hour. You should stay in the crib again, also for the following days. On the seventh day you can try the separation for 1 1/2 hours. If the child cannot stand the separation for a long time, the time is of course kept shorter. The time is only increased if the parents did not have to be called earlier the day before.

The final phase

With children who get used to it well, the final phase starts on the eighth day. However, this time can also come later and should be individually adapted to the child. The final phase consists of not having the child picked up until after lunch on the eighth day. On the tenth day, the child can also be put to sleep in the crib without the parents being present.

Criticism of the Berlin model

The Berlin model is used in most day nurseries and day-care centers. If you stick to the plan exactly, nothing stands in the way of a good settling-in period and then a relaxed day-to-day day at the day-care center. Nevertheless, there is some criticism of the Berlin familiarization model. On the one hand, the parents need a lot of time to get used to it. Time that many do not have. You have to go back to work soon or are expecting a second baby. Parents are also stressed when they have to spend a lot of time in the crèche. Many parents also find it difficult to believe that the long settling-in period is important for the child. Your child is one of those children who would like to get rid of their parents immediately when they see other children and toys. Nevertheless, it is also important for these children that they arrive at the crèche cautiously, and the Berlin model also allows the acclimatization to be shortened to a certain extent.

Another point of criticism of the Berlin acclimatization model is the large staff shortage in German crèches and daycare centers. There is often a lack of skilled workers and temporary workers such as interns are not sufficiently trained to implement the Berlin model one-to-one. In addition, the interns usually only spend a short time in the facility and therefore do not represent a reliable reference person. New skilled workers add additional unrest to day-to-day day-to-day nursery work. Don’t new educators really need to get used to it? Some providers tell the institutions to work according to the Berlin model, but at the same time do not give them enough time to give ten new children the optimal time to do so.

It’s just not that easy to implement in everyday life. Nevertheless, there is basically nothing to complain about about the Berlin model. Because the smoother a child can start in the crèche, the better it will go down there. The goal is long-term.

Alternatives to the Berlin familiarization model

But what alternatives are there to the Berlin model? The Munich familiarization model is a good alternative to the Berlin model. The basis for acclimatization according to the Munich model are also the attachment theories according to Bowlby. The secure attachment of the child should be supported in order to protect the child especially psychologically. The Munich acclimatization model was created through a project at day nurseries in Munich. It was investigated how the child gets used to it when it is actively involved in the process of getting used to it. The aim was for the child to get used to it and not get used to it. With the Munich model, you trust that the baby or toddler is already competent enough to decide what is good for them.

Getting used to the Munich model

Acclimatization according to the Munich model takes place in five phases. The goal here, just like with the Berlin model, is that the acclimatization process is as smooth as possible. However, the focus of the Munich acclimatization model is on transition. This means the transition phase between care by the parents and care by the educator. The first attempt at separation takes place here much later than with the Berlin model. In addition, the focus is more on the child with his or her wishes and needs. This means that it takes longer to get used to it, but it also focuses on each individual child a lot more.

The phases of the Munich familiarization model

  1. Phase: preparatory phase
  2. Phase: getting to know each other
  3. Phase: security phase
  4. Phase: Confidence phase
  5. Phase: reflection phase / evaluation phase

The preparatory phase

The Munich familiarization model starts in the preparatory phase with an intensive exchange between parents and educators. The familiarization process is explained to the parents according to the Munich model and the concept of the crèche or daycare center is explained. In this way, the parents can get an idea of the work and are already prepared for the length of the settling-in period. The preparatory phase is also intended so that the educators can get an idea of the family and especially of the child.

Individual needs of the child, rituals of the family and important information such as allergies of the child can be discussed here. Helpful questions for this phase can include, for example:

  • What hobbies / interests does the child have?
  • How is the child’s sleep behavior?
  • What can you comfort the child with?
  • Does the child have any allergies / intolerances?
  • Does the child have a comfort blanket, pacifier, etc.?
  • etc.

The getting to know you phase

In the phase of getting to know the Munich model, the child comes to the crèche with one of the parents for several hours a day for a week. It should stay as long as the child can do. It can get to know the day-to-day routine of the day-care center. The aim is for the child to be able to relax and watch the day-care center with a secure bond with its parents. This includes watching the other children dressing and undressing, playing, singing, eating, etc. The child can take part in the activities or watch from their parents’ safe haven.

The security phase

In the second week, according to the Munich familiarization model, the security phase begins. Here, too, the parent remains present at all times. A separation is not yet carried out. However, the parent should now withdraw more and more. Sit down at a table when the child goes to play or step by step withdraw from a game situation. The child’s reference educator now takes on the first tasks such as dressing or changing the child. The other, “old” children in the group are also an important part of the acclimatization process. They give the new child the security that they can be trusted.

The trust phase

The fourth phase begins in the third week. The child should have gained confidence in the new environment by now and be ready for the first separation. For this, the parent says goodbye for 30 to 60 minutes. In contrast to the Berlin model, the separation is not interrupted here if the child does not calm down. The separation is maintained for the specified time and the parent only comes back afterwards. If the separation goes well, the time will be extended step by step over the next few days.

The reflection phase or evaluation phase

In the last phase of acclimatization according to the Munich model, the acclimatization time is evaluated in a conversation with the parents. The educators can also provide advice to the parents. The conversation and all findings from it should be recorded in writing.


citation suggestion

Götz, S. (2021). Settling into the crèche – theories for a successful start. Berlin model & Munich model explained. ISSN: 2748-2979. Accessed on 01/29/2021. Available at:

By Sebastian Götz

"Ich lerne für den besten Job der Welt und möchte euch hier auf Krippenzeit daran teilhaben lassen."

Denn auf meinem Blog nehme ich euch mit auf eine spannende Entdeckungsreise der pädagogischen Ausbildung zum Erzieher und weit darüber hinaus.

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