Berlin adaptation model

Berlin adaptation model phases

The Berlin adaptation model (Berliner Eingewöhungsmodell in German) is a model used widely in Germany to smooth the adaptation of children in a new environment, specifically child daycare centers or institutions.

The Berlin adaptation model is so common in Germany that it is just called adaptation (Eingewöhnung in German) and it consists on 4 phases:

  1. The initial phase or 3-day basic phase
  2. First separation trial or first attempt at separation
  3. Stabilization phase
  4. Final phase

The initial phase or 3-day basic phase

The parent (or a close attachment figure) visits the daycare center with the child. The close attachment figure could be a grandparent, an uncle, an aunt. Someone with whom the baby/child feels safe. And it is recommended that the same person carries out the whole adaptation.

During this phase the parent or close attachment figure and the child arrive together in the daycare institution. They stay there together for one hour. The amount of time should always be the same during this 3 days period.

If the third day is a Friday, it should be repeated on Monday next week. It is important to repeat the same day on Monday because of the weekend that comes in between.

During this phase the caregiver approaches the child with caution. And the parent (or a close attachment figure) should:

  • Act rather passive
  • Not push the child away from him/her
  • Accept if the child wants to be close to him/her
  • Shouldn’t interact with other children, so his/her child feels that he/she is completely concentrated on him/her

During the initial phase of the Berlin adaptation model no separation is attempted.

First separation trial or First attempt at separation

It usually starts on the forth day, but it could also start in the fifth day of the adaptation if the weekend comes right after the third day.

During the first separation trial phase the parent (or close attachment figure) plus the child, arrive at the daycare institution and, a few minutes after the parent (or close attachment figure) says goodbye and leaves the room. However, he/she stays close in case it is necessary to return.

Even if the separation trial went just fine, it shouldn’t be longer than 30 minutes.

The caregiver should:

  • Say goodbye to the parent (or close attachment figure) together with the child. If the child didn’t noticed what is happening, the caregiver should bring attention to it.
  • In case it is necessary, he/she should explain that the parent (or close attachment figure) will be back and/or comfort the child.
  • Direct the child’s attention to play

If the child shows signs of distress, cries inconsolably or there is a strong demand for the parent (or close attachment figure) to return, the parent (or close attachment figure) should be called immediately and the attempt at separation is repeated after 3 days.

If the child shows interest on the environment, or even if the child cries but the caregiver is able to comfort him/her, the separation is extended up to 30 minutes.

Stabilization phase

During the stabilization phase of the Berlin adaptation model, the child shouldn’t stay in the daycare institution more than half a day. The periods of time that the parent (or a close attachment figure) is in the daycare institution are part of the caregiver-child interaction efforts. So the parent should’t interact with the child.

The caregiver tries slowly to take full care of the child, concerning:

  • Diaper changing
  • Hand washing
  • Playing
  • Feeding

Depending on the child’s adaptation development the stabilization phase continues until between day 10 and day 20.

Final phase

During the final phase of the Berlin adaptation model the parent doesn’t stay anymore in the child daycare institution, but he/she can be called anytime if needed.

The adaptation is completed when the child accepts the caregiver as a safe heaven. Even if he/she protests when the parent (or close attachment figure) leaves, but accepts comfort by the caregiver.

I have been documenting our Berlin adaptation model journey on my Instagram stories. It worked quite well but it had also some bumps. I left all those stories on my highlights, if you want to check them: (Highlights: BERLIN MOD 1; BEELIN MOD 2; BERLIN MOD 3).

If you want to see this information on my YouTube channel, don’t forget to check this video:

I hope that you feel more informed about the Berlin adaptation model used widely here in Germany.

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