Babies, Childcare & You

Child CareCongratulations on your new bundle of joy! Now it’s time for childcare. This can be one of the most stressful times of your life. The precious child you have been carrying for the last nine months, or have just adopted or been awarded custody of, is about to be handed off to a bunch of strangers. But do not be alarmed! This can be a very positive, supportive experience at the same time.

If you know you are going to need childcare for your newborn, it is never too early for you to begin looking for the center that is the right fit for you and your baby. You do not want to have to choose the right “home” or “extended family” for your precious child when the clock is ticking down to the moment you will need childcare. A number of things should be considered when making this important decision.

First, I must mention I am a strong proponent of using a childcare center over a private sitter at your home or at the sitter’s home. The only exception I would make is if you know the individual so well that you would trust them with your life. That greatly limits your choices. I suggest it be limited to your own parents or someone that was instrumental in raising you. That is how close this person must be to you.

Caring for an infant can be very stressful. There have been many documented cases where the least expected individuals have cracked and acted totally out of character under the stress of caring for a baby. The constant crying, feeding needs, changing, rocking, keeping you awake and depriving you of much needed rest can result in a very bad outcome if the wrong individual is caring for your infant. You must find very special loving people with just the right amount of patience, love, a caring heart and the experience to care for your newborn. Be very careful making your decision.

In a quality childcare center a great deal of activity goes on. Parents are dropping off and picking up their babies. Owners, directors, and assistant directors constantly are going in and out of every room in the center. Usually security cameras are in every room. Teachers are constantly monitored. Every moment of interaction is viewable and the teachers are very aware of this. Many sets of eyes are viewing how your child is being treated in a childcare setting. And as I mention in my upcoming article, “Finding the Right Center,” an owner always should be involved in the caring for your newborn…or find another center.

The right center should welcome your visits in the rooms so you see the teacher interacting with the children. I would suggest you ask them if you can just hang out in the baby room for a period of time. While there you can get to know the teachers that will be caring for your baby. You will be communicating with them frequently. Find out how long they have been doing this and how they feel about the center where they are working. See if they are happy!

You should ask important questions about ratios, feeding schedules, protocol while feeding, daily sheets, disinfecting, changing of diapers, designated cribs and how often sheets are washed.

  • If you intend to breastfeed your baby, make sure the center will accommodate your needs. If a center says they are not equipped to handle your request, find a center that can; they are out there.
  • Laws enforced by licensing agencies are different in various states. If you have any concerns or questions, you can contact your local licensing agency or post your question on my blog and I will get you the information you need.

Your state licensing agency also will have available for your review, inspection reports from visits conducted at the center you are considering. Most state licensing agencies perform at least four unannounced visits per year. How the center rates during these unannounced visits is very important.

Do not judge your center by reviews on Google or Yahoo. These reviews are anonymous and in most cases fabricated. Negative posts often come from disgruntled employees, competitors, or even former families that may have been disenrolled for not paying their tuition.

Always ask for references. Do not be reluctant about asking the center to arrange a face-to face visit with two or three parents who have infants enrolled at the center. Ask how many families with babies have other children in the center. This is a strong vote of confidence for the facility. A family who has been using the center and elects to stay there and enroll their newborn is a very positive sign. They obviously trust the center.

Most centers will tell you they take infants at six weeks of age. While this is not usually a state regulation, it is widely believed that your baby’s immune system is not strong enough until six weeks of age.
These are just some of the important tools you will need as you begin the process of finding a childcare center to care for your newborn baby.

Watch for my upcoming article on “Childcare and Feeding your Infant.”