Hands down and without a doubt, one of the most difficult decisions you will make as a parent involves choosing childcare for your new baby. How on earth do you possibly decide who is good enough to care for your child besides yourself, your partner, or close family? If these are not options for you due to circumstance, then there are a number of questions you may want to consider to ensure not only your sweet baby’s health and happiness, but your own peace of mind.
Big or small?
Will you opt for a child care center, which can typically accommodate a larger group of kids, or do you think you’d prefer the smaller, home care route? There are many advantages to both depending on the needs of your baby and your family.
Resources and reliability: At child care centers, one of the great advantages you’ll find are programs and resources that might not be available if you were to choose the independent route. This can include memorable activities such as zoo trips and fire truck visits or specialized classes. You’re also guaranteed that if your son or daughter’s caregiver is sick or on vacation, you won’t have to at the last minute for an alternative. There’s a lot of comfort that comes with that kind of dependability.
Flexible and individual: With home based care, it’s easy to imagine what your child’s day will be like given the setting is so similar to your every day routine. There is also typically much more flexibility in order to adapt to your son or daughter’s specific habits. This individualized attention can do wonders for your child’s growth and development.
With such varying choices, don’t put pressure on yourself to make the perfect decision. If you feel like you haven’t found a good fit, don’t be afraid to change your mind. Consistency for your child is important, but not nearly as important as knowing they are on the best place they could be besides your own home.
How do they interact with your baby?
You obviously want whoever is taking care of your child to love and give them as much of their time and attention as you would. How the caregivers interact with your sweet baby is another important factor to consider.
Down and dirty: When you look down at the floor, what do you see? Do you see an adult crawling on the floor with them, playing and teaching on their level? Caregivers who are willing to crawl around on all fours for the sake of a baby’s enjoyment and development are ones who understand the importance of this kind of interaction.
Screen time or read time: Does their method of entertaining your baby involve screen time and, if so, how much? Are you more likely to see the adults sitting and reading or playing with your baby? Think about how you would ideally like your baby to spend the bulk of her day, and watch to see how the adults who look after her while you are away fill that time. While no one will ever be able to do it quite like you, there’s nothing wrong with a close second.
If you want to get a good idea of how the adults in charge connect with the little people in their care, stop by for a surprise visit. This can help give you an unfiltered view into what the philosophies of your child care center are. If you have any concerns, don’t be afraid to let them be known. You’ll know you have found a good fit for your child when you feel comfortable talking about what your worries and preferences are.
What do other people have to say?
You will likely research the child care options in your area more than any term paper or thesis you ever wrote in your educational career. This is a big decision which requires a high degree of consideration!
Internet research: The old, reliable, all knowing Google is a good place to start your quest for information. A quick search can unearth a wealth of forums with feedback and reviews to help you learn about a particular option. However, when looking up sources to trust, you will never find a more honest opinion than a mom, particularly if it has to do with how her kids are being looked after.
Mom research: We value the judgement of other parents because we feel that their considerations are much the same as our own. They have also likely done the homework, weighed all of the pros and cons, and found a choice that best matches their own needs and their child’s personality. Not only that, but once they’ve found a good thing, moms and dad are often extremely vocal about sharing it with others. Aren’t we all the same, that once we’ve found a good thing, all we want to do is share it?
Lots of kids or one-on-one?
This is probably one of the most obvious choices to make when it comes to selecting child care for the first time. The decision you make here is going to be heavily influenced by your own family situation and values. What is the best ratio to have between adults and kids? Obviously with a dedicated day care facility, the ratio is going to be measurably higher than with smaller, home based centers. But why does this matter?
Kid connection: To decide if this is a factor for you, think about the kind of peer and adult interaction you want your child to have on a daily basis. Do you want your baby to get a lot of interaction, not only with kids their own age, but with kids across a range of ages? This can really help them to socialize and be comfortable in their own peer group from an early age.
Grown up connection: How important is adult interaction to you for your child? More individualized adult attention is extremely beneficial for your baby’s social and emotional development, not to mention helps to reduce their feelings of being overwhelmed in unfamiliar environments. Look not only at your state’s minimum ratio and maximum class size, but at the policy of the care center you are looking into when making this important decision.
While at first glance the right option for you may seem clear, make sure to look into the pros and cons of everything. You may even surprise yourself with what you land on in the end, and it just might turn out to be the perfect choice.
What are their policies?
The decision of childcare, in essence, is the decision of who is going to stand in for you while you’re at work. You’ll want to ensure that whoever you choose is reliable and that their philosophy matches as closely as possible to your own parenting ethics.
Dos, don’ts, and discipline: Every child has their moments when they don’t behave exactly has they should. They are little and learning, after all. The real question to ask when this happens at their away from home care is how is this dealt with? Does your child care provider practice scolding, or time out? Do they address the bad behavior directly or is it more passive? For consistency sake, it helps if their ideology lines up where possible with your own. If things work one way at daycare and then another way at home, believe me, your child could pick up on this and potentially exploit it!
Sick kids need not apply: This is definitely not the case, but hopefully you see where this is going! You’ll want to make sure you understand your child care facilities stance on how sick is too sick for your little love to attend. Is there a maximum fever temperature they can’t go over? Are there certain symptoms which mean they can’t join in? Knowing these qualifiers is more of a good heads up for you so that, when your kid inevitably picks up that bug that’s doing the rounds, you aren’t left stranded and surprised.
The best choice your baby and YOU
The period of transition to another person’s care during the day can be difficult for your baby, but don’t be surprised if it’s actually more difficult on you! Looking for dependable, quality care means the world to you as a parent, and helps to relieve the inevitable guilt that comes with returning to the workforce.
Dependability and quality are attributes that Ride Nanny knows all about, providing you with consistent peace of mind whenever you and your baby get in the car. Just like you do your best to ensure your child is well looked after when you’re not around, Ride Nanny helps you to know that even when life gets hectic and overwhelming, your child will be looked after every time you step into the car. Having this extra security is certainly a choice that’s much simpler to make.