How to choose the right day care

by Sr Ann Richardson
BYY parenting and sleep expert, Sr Ann Richardson gives some pointers on finding the right day care for your child.
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At some point in your baby’s life, you may be faced with the reality of returning to the workplace. BYY parenting and sleep expert, Sr Ann Richardson gives some pointers on finding the right day care for your child.

At some point in your baby’s life, you may be faced with the reality of returning to the workplace.  The decision to be a ‘stay at home mom’, or a working mom is based very much on everyone’s personal, spiritual, and economic needs.

Financial commitments may make the decision to return to work a non-negotiable one.  Some mothers are happy and content fulfilling a sole role of mothering and nurturing, whilst some personalities need extra challenges and stimulation outside of the home to feel fulfilled.

In our society some might judge working moms as unnatural, yet there are many different types of moms in the world with unique emotional, financial, and mental needs.

 Sometimes, the role of stay-at-home mom who makes the decision to care for her child is disregarded and undervalued for work and time given that is accorded little respect. It can seem like it’s a no-win situation. 

Check out: How to carve out time after maternity leave

The fact that being a working mother is something that many feel they must apologise for, at least some of the time, might make you doubt whether your children are happy and well adjusted, even when all the evidence points to them being so.

Finding a workable solution, from all aspects, be they financial or social, will make the often-traumatic transition back into the workplace much more bearable.

Having said that, ensuring the health and well-being of your child when you return to work (for whatever reason) will be of paramount importance to you. 

Research has shown that although a child may form close relationships with her childminder, this does not affect the emotional bond between mother and child.

Also read: 13 tip to prepare your child for their new sibling 

There are various childcare options:

  1. Individual child care
  • Utilising your existing domestic worker in your own home if she is good with babies and enjoys children and has the necessary skills.
  • Enlisting the help of a friend or family member
  • Employing a nanny or au-pair
  1. Group child care
  • Enrolling your child into day care

See the pros and cons of day care below:

INDIVIDUAL CARE

FOR

AGAINST

 Domestic worker

·  Individual attention for child in terms of stimulation and routine.

·  Familiar surroundings of the family home.

·  Flexibility of extended hours of care with the same caregiver.

·  Extra household chores can be done at the same time.

· Continuous care, even if the child is ill.

·   Lack of supervision in terms of stimulation and routine.

·  Isolation of the caregiver from a security point of view (safety in numbers).

·  No back-up if caregiver is ill, or on leave.

·  May be overloaded with other household tasks.

·  May not have the relevant knowledge or skills.

Family / friend

·  Individual attention for child in terms of stimulation and routine.

· If in family home, may be in familiar surroundings.

· Allows parent more flexibility in terms of time constraints.

· Limited exposure to infections from other children if the only child being cared for.

· Care is continuous, even if the child is ill.

· Rest assured your child is loved and cared for as there is a personal bond.

·  No back-up if caregiver is ill or on leave.

· If not kept in the family home – unfamiliar surroundings, and increased exposure to infections if many family members present.

·  Isolation of the caregiver from a security point of view (safety in numbers).

Au – pair or nanny

· Specifically trained individual able to care for and stimulate the child appropriately for his age and ability.

· Familiar surroundings of the family home.

· Negotiable for flexibility of extended hours of care giving.

· Limited exposure to infections from other children.

· Continuous care, even if child is ill.

· Extra duties, such as grocery shopping, and doctors’ visits can be dealt with.

· Isolation of the caregiver from a security point of view.

· No back up if caregiver is ill or on leave.

· Caregiver’s personal life may impact on the family.

GROUP CARE

FOR

AGAINST

Day mother

· Small groups of children (less than 6)

· Socialisation with other babies.

· Can offer care all year round.

· May have good staff/child ratio.

· Possibly checked by the authorities, if registered.

· Increased risk of exposure to illness.

· Exclusion if the child is ill.

· Inflexibility of routine to fit individual’s needs.

· May have insufficient staff/child ratio.

· Inflexibility of extended hours of caregiving.

· Exposure of your child to the elements early in the morning, or late in the afternoon, whilst travelling.

Creche/nursery

· Can offer care all year round.

· Sufficient staff to cover in case of staff absence due to illness or leave.

· Stimulation and socialisation with other babies.

· Increased security- ‘safety in numbers”.

· Possibly checked by the authorities, if registered.

· May have insufficient staff/child ratio.

· Inflexibility of extended hours of caregiving.

· Exposure of your child to the elements early in the morning, or late in the afternoon, whilst travelling.

· Exclusion if child is ill.

· Inflexibility of routine to fit individual child’s needs.

· Increased risk of exposure to infections.

· Inflexibility of extended hours of caregiving.

What to look for when choosing a childcare centre: 

  • Are you made to feel welcome by all the staff?
  • Get recommendations from moms’ groups, your communities, the local well-baby clinic, friends and family.
  • Is there a relaxed atmosphere, and a sense of joy around?
  • Is the centre clean, bright, and airy, with no smells of dirty nappies or cooking?
  • Are the toys and play equipment in a good state of repair?
  • Are the babies in a separate section from the toddlers and older children?
  • Do the staff know the children by name?
  • What is the staff/child ratio? (for small babies, it should be 1:3)
  • Do the children seem to be content, happy, and stimulated?
  • How is the distressed child treated?
  • Do they offer a healthy, varied diet?
  • Are the staff suitably qualified – and are they exposed to continuing education?
  • Is there a daily stimulation programme appropriate for each age group?
  • Is the geographical location of the centre convenient for you? Consider traffic flow with a view to time management.

It is important that you take your time before rushing into a hasty decision regarding child-care for your child.  Consider all options carefully and do some of your own research too and you will find the best place for you to feel satisfied that your child is well-looked after and cared for while you are at work.

Also read: How much formula does your baby need?

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