When it comes time to select someone to care for your baby it is very important to make the right decision. Many parents worry about leaving their baby alone with someone else, especially when it is someone they do not know very well. However, most parents, at least at some point in their baby’s life need to leave their infant with someone else. This may be a temporary caregiver, such as a friend or relative, who comes into your home; a childcare provider that has a small business in his/her home or a childcare center where there are a lot of children, a large facility and many employees.
The best way to be sure you have selected the right person to care for your baby is to get to know them well. Find out how much experience they have caring for children of different ages. How well do they handle stress, particularly stress from a crying baby? Are they licensed and trained to provide childcare? You want to be sure you are making the best decision for your baby by selecting someone who can attend to the needs of your child and remain calm in difficult situations.
There are three main kinds of childcare that most people decide between and each has its own benefits and disadvantages.
The first is a childcare center. Childcare centers usually have professionally trained staff, large roomy facilities and plenty of people to help with stressful situations, like an inconsolable crying baby. Also, large childcare centers have lots of people watching each other, which means opportunities for abuse and/or neglect are very unlikely.
In fact, a study published in the June 2008 edition of Pediatrics, Dr. David Chadwick found that that it is very unlikely in a large childcare center for a child to be abused. This has to do with the many people who are around and involved in the care of a child, so the opportunity for abuse is almost non-existent.
However, in large childcare centers it may be difficult for your child to develop a bond with any of the care providers, because the person caring for your infant can change rather frequently. Also, parents with late, early, rotating, or part-time work schedules may find it difficult to find a childcare center willing to accommodate their schedules.
The second is a small care center usually in someone’s home. Smaller childcare centers usually offer smaller groups sizes which may be desirable for some infants, because it permits them more one on one interaction with the care provider, allowing them to develop a closer bond. The in-home settings of many smaller care facilities can help an infant feel more safe and comfortable. There are also usually more opportunities to choose from when selecting your childcare provider allowing you to be very selective in whom you choose to take care of your baby.
The downside to small care centers is that the ratio of children to caregivers may sometimes be higher than what is desirable. It can be very difficult for one person to provide adequate care to, for example, eight infants, so it is important to make sure that there is a good balance of younger and older children in the group. It can also be difficult to monitor the additional workload the provider takes on. If the small care center currently has only two infants, but decides later on to take on an additional three, it could become difficult for your child to receive the care they need. Also, providers running a small care center don’t usually have the option of handing off a child or baby who is frustrating them to someone else, so it is important to make sure you select someone who has a long fuse and can handle stress well.
“Sometimes caregivers feel obligated to continue to care for a child who
is frustrating them because they are being paid to do so, but the truth is most parents
want to be notified if their child is being particularly difficult.”
The third is childcare in your home. The great thing about inviting someone into your home to take care of your infant is that you likely already have a good relationship with this person. It could be a parent, grandparent, sibling, or good friend, but the point is it is someone you trust. The person caring for your infant doesn’t have to divide their time between lots of other children and can develop a strong bond with your baby. The other great thing about this form of childcare is that your infant remains in your home, which is a familiar setting and likely much more comfortable for them.
If you choose a grandparent to care for your baby, remind them that some parenting practices and guidelines have changed since they raised small children 20 or 30 years ago. Things like putting babies on their backs to sleep, which is the correct safe sleep position for infants, may be confusing to grandparents who put their babies on their sides or stomachs to sleep. Grandparents and babysitters need to be educated on new safety standards and first aid care for infants. This recent study reports that children being cared for by grandparents are at higher risk for adverse environments. The study recommends that grandparents use the same resources parents monitor for the latest child safety news. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Healthy Children site is among those offering tips for kids of all ages.
It is important to remember that when choosing someone to come into your home and take care of your infant that you be very particular in whom you select. You would not want someone with a short fuse who doesn’t handle stress well, because taking care of an infant or small child can be very challenging at times and you want the person caring for your baby to remain composed when faced with difficult situations. The first time you leave your baby with a new caregiver, keep it short. Make sure that the person caring for your child can handle small amounts of time with your child before you leave them for long periods of time.
“Don’t select someone with a short fuse to come into your home and care for your baby.”
Important things to remember
No matter who takes care of your baby make sure they know that it is okay to call you if they begin to become very frustrated. Many times caregivers feel obligated to continue to care for a child who is frustrating them because they are being paid to do so, but the truth is that most parents want to be notified if their child is being particularly difficult and frustrating the caregiver. You must be very candid and open about telling them this.
Always be sure to share with the person caring for your infant the information contained in the Period of PURPLE Crying. Check out the video below for a great way of sharing the program with others. While your infant is going through this stage in their development it is important that others know about it, so they do not become frustrated with your infant’s crying and react poorly.
Regardless of what method of childcare you choose for your infant always be very selective. Who cares for your baby when you are away is an extremely important decision. Just as deciding on a doctor to perform surgery or an accountant to manage your finance is a decision you wouldn’t take lightly, the decision of who cares for your infant shouldn’t be either.
For more information
For more information about selecting a childcare provider, or to find a licensed care provider in your area visit www.childcare.org.