If you’re planning to go back to work after your baby is born, child care is a major concern. Your childcare provider will be spending a lot of time with your child, so it is critical that you be comfortable with the environment and the style of care your child will be receiving. There are several alternatives, each with pros and cons. Spend some time evaluating each option, so that you can make the choice that best suits your needs.
The first option is in-home child care, meaning a sitter, or nanny who comes to your home to watch the child. This is by far the most expensive option, but it has many advantages. Your child will be at home, and will have the full attention of the nanny. In addition, your child will be exposed to fewer illnesses, and you will not have to transport her back and forth on your way to and from work. The main disadvantage is that you have no real backup if your nanny gets sick or wants to take vacation. Another thing to consider is your feelings if your child develops a very strong bond with the nanny. More than one mother has been hurt by the sense that the baby is more comfortable with the nanny than with her.
The second option is a small home daycare, meaning you find someone who will keep your child in her home, perhaps with her own children or one or two others. This is a good option if you want your child in a home atmosphere, but can’t afford the full time nanny. This option shares the same disadvantages of having a nanny in terms of no backup plan.
The third option is a traditional daycare center. Traditional daycares are affordable, and there is no need to worry about a caretaker getting sick or wanting to take vacation. A daycare might also be more of a learning environment than home care, which will become more important to you as your child gets older. The main disadvantages of daycares are that your child is exposed to all the germs of all the children. Be prepared for the both of you to be sick for a year. The other disadvantage is the numbers of children being cared for. For example, in most states, the law requires one caretaker per eight babies. Now, I don’t know about you, but I could not effectively care for eight babies alone. So, if you decide to use a daycare center, be sure to ask their caretaker to child ratio. Look for one with about five babies per caretaker.
Choosing your baby’s childcare arrangement is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Even after you’ve chosen a care option, be diligent about ensuring that your child is receiving the best care. Drop in unannounced at odd times of day to see what’s going on. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and let the caretaker know what’s important to you. It’s critical not only to your child’s well being, but to your own piece of mind.