Finding the right childcare environment for your child can be an difficult task. As a parent, you want to verify that your child is receiving quality childcare throughout the early stages of their lives. Whether you decide on in-home care or out-of-home care, here are some tips on how to help you decide what is most suitable for your child’s need provided by KidsHealth.org:
If you are considering a childcare setting, spend some time observing the center and staff, as well as talk to the parents who already have their kids enrolled.
Evaluate what you observed and what other parents said about the childcare center or provider. Consider the child-rearing disciplines and ask yourself if they resonate with your personal discipline style.
If you find interest with in-home care, which involves hiring a nanny or au pair, it is recommended to use licensed agencies for your hiring process.
In-home care works well for parents that have careers with busy schedules, usually jobs that require business trips and working overtime. If you decide to hire an in-home caregiver, create guidelines and rules that outline job duties, hours, pay and other obligations. Parents should make sure that the nanny or au pair has the resources and support to be a positive caregiver. Always make yourself available by phone in case an emergency occurs.
Interview your prospective hire at least twice and conduct a criminal background check.
It is critical that you verify all staff have passed background checks. Ask your potential caregiver questions such as, “How will you provide new experiences to enhance my child’s mental and physical development” or “How would you handle separation anxiety”.
The American Academy of Pediatrics(AAP) recommends that one adult should have primary responsibility for no more than one baby under 12 months of age in any care setting. For overall infant care, the AAP recommends that a child to staff ratio is 3:1.
Childcare centers typically employ several adults to care for large groups of children, whereas day care homes are often a single adult supervising the children. Regardless of what setting you decide on, it’s best that the caregiver(s) is trained in CPR and follows AAP guidelines regarding the child to staff ratio.
Health, safety and hygiene are other factors to consider when choosing your childhood care environment.
Regardless of the setting you decide on, all adults and children should be up-to-date on immunizations. Staff members should wear disposable gloves when changing diapers, and frequent hand washing should be promoted among the staff and kids in order to minimize the risk of spreading infections.
Ask questions about staff turnover.
Children need a sense of security and stability, especially when they are away from their parents. You want to make sure that your child will be assigned to the same caregiver(s) in order to reflect that. Asking questions about staff turnover can help you make sure that this is possible.
Make sure your child is receiving adequate rest and good food when in childcare. Keep to naptimes and early bedtimes and resist extra-curricular activities on “ school” days.
Remember that a young child will be most successful if his/her home routines are predictable and healthy. Being consistent with the childcare practices and principles at home creates a bridge for your child that makes home and childcare feel comfortable and familiar. Keep in mind that it takes time for your child to adjust to being in a different environment. It’s normal for children, especially older infants, to suffer separation anxiety. Visiting your child during the day for a short amount of time can help your track progress and reassure that your child is receiving quality care. Finding a healthy social and learning setting with loving caregivers will only strengthen your whole family.