Baby Care Choices

Before you bring your new baby home, you need to think about who will take care of your little one when you can't.

Whether you're staying at home or going back to work right away, you can make sure your baby spends all day, every day, in a safe setting. Explore your choices carefully.

Staying at home

  • This can help with fondness and bonding
  • It might even make good financial sense, mainly if you have a partner with a well-paying job
    • When you think about the costs of going to work - childcare, commuting, business clothes, meals on the go, higher taxes and so on - you might in fact save money by caring for your baby yourself

A hard choice

  • Not everyone can stay at home with their baby, so don't feel guilty
  • Research shows that children can do well even when placed in childcare when very young
  • Whatever type of daycare you choose, it should be stable and steady. Changing caregivers too much can make it harder for a baby to make attachments
  • Keep in mind that your child's care will only be as good as the caregiver

Care at home

  • A trusted relative is often the best caregiver you could find
    • May also be the lowest cost
    • It's best for your baby if the relative comes to your house, because your little one feels most at ease at home, and you can make sure it's baby-proofed
  • If a relative isn't on hand and you have the money, think about hiring a part-time sitter or full-time nanny to come to your home
    • This can cost more than daycare
    • Your baby will get one-on-one care in a known setting
  • You might want to ask friends and family about daycare choices they've made
  • You can also host a nanny-share at your home
    • This is when a nanny takes care of more than one baby at the same time
    • You can share the cost with a friend and cut the cost of a nanny in half

The right nanny

  • The sitter or nanny should have:
    • Training with babies
    • A list of references
    • Training in baby CPR (mouth-to-mouth)
  • Check the references carefully, and ask about his or her thoughts on baby care
  • The nanny should:
    • Be willing to hold and comfort your baby when he or she is fussy
    • Know that there is no such thing as "spoiling" a baby
  • Don't be afraid to ask hard questions, and listen to your gut
  • If a sitter or nanny doesn't seem right, he or she likely isn't
  • If you use an agency to find a nanny, make sure they run full background checks
  • After hiring a sitter or nanny, pay close notice to any signs of trouble
  • If you notice the caregiver ignoring your child or leaving him or her unsupervised, it's time to find someone else

Family daycare

Family daycare is a favored choice for parents with very young children. A caregiver will watch anywhere from two to six children of many ages in his or her own home. Look for a family daycare center that is licensed by the state where you live

  • A good family daycare will have:
    • Clearly written rules on sick children and keeping order
    • A record that they have met the standards of the National Association for the Education of Young Children or the National Association for Family Child Care
  • Take a close look at the home before making your choice
    • There should be no more than three children under the age of two for every adult
    • No more than six children at a time

Checking up

  • Pay a visit or two to the daycare or caregiver before you decid
  •  Check online comments from other parents (if any) or talk to other parents
  • Work with him or her for a day with your child
  • The daycare should have an open-door policy that lets you pop in at any time
  • Trust your instincts

Daycare center

A daycare center is not like family daycare in a home. In some states, daycare centers can have 30 kids or more at a time.

  • You may want to think about a daycare center if there's one at or near where you work
  • Being able to see your child at lunch and during breaks is a great job perk
  • Even if the daycare looks good from the outside, take the time to check it out first
  • The staff should be friendly and trained, and the babies should get plenty of care
  • The same things that make a good family daycare also make a good daycare center
  • Know that top-quality daycare centers often have long waiting lists of sometimes a year or more

[references] Copyright © 2010 LimeHealth

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