As a working mom who just had a baby we do not want to think about the dreaded day of having someone else watch our baby. The day where our maternity leave bliss is over, and our baby will be with a stranger for more hours in a day than they are with us. The time where we won’t be with our baby to comfort them when they cry, find joy in their smiles, and witness every milestone as they happen. Leaving your baby with someone else is an extremely hard thing to do as a new mother. Choosing childcare for your baby is a big decision. Select a caregiver that will ease your emotions and who you trust to watch your baby.
There are different options when it comes to choosing childcare for your baby once you go back to work. You can send your baby to a daycare center, an in home daycare, or have a single person watch your baby like a family member or a nanny. There are benefits to each option, and there is no right or wrong. You might not even have access to each option. Here are more details on the main options you have for choosing child care for your baby.
Option #1: Daycare or Childcare Center
One option in choosing childcare for your baby is sending them to a daycare center. These are typically licensed, public centers where you have to apply to get your child into the program. They tend to be the most structured with processes and procedures in place for everything.
Functions of a Daycare Center
Your baby will typically have a variety of daycare teachers throughout their time. They may have different teachers throughout the day depending how long they are there. In addition, they will likely switch teachers every 6 months to a year. This is helpful in preparing them for school. They will have gone through the process of getting use to a new teacher and their way of daycare life.
Typically a daycare center is always going to be open for business. Except for major holidays and a couple of professional development days each year, a daycare center has enough people to cover if someone is sick or is on vacation. This is helpful for parents as it limits the days of figuring out coverage because of your baby’s child care being closed.
Daycare centers usually have strict rules and regulations they must follow along with a curriculum and classroom plans. This means your baby will be exposed to learning different things that you might not have done or don’t have access to teach because you do not have all the materials. They will also be exposed to more adults and kids.
Many times if you want to go this route, you may have to put your child on their waiting list as they only accept so many babies. So check out centers early in your pregnancy. Then determine if this is the option you want to go with your baby and get them on the list.
Option #2: In Home Daycare
Another childcare option for your baby is sending them to an in home daycare. Most in home daycares are also licensed child care providers. (Make sure to double check that they are before choosing this option.) However, in home daycares may offer a little bit more flexibility for you and your baby.
Functions of an In Home Daycare
In home daycares are typically run by one person that watches all ages of kids at the same time. So your baby could be with kids of all ages, which could include siblings in the future. These kids can become very close being with each other for many days and potentially years.
With choosing in home childcare for your baby they would be with the same care giver all day everyday. This would be for as many months or years as they are there. So you both may become very close to the caregiver with spending so much time with them. They also may be more accommodating to your requests since they have more flexibility.
In home daycares provide a home-like environment for your baby where daycare centers offer a classroom feel. This includes the furniture and flooring which may give a very different feel in each setting.
Option #3: Family Member or Nanny
Another option for choosing childcare for your baby is a family member or nanny for a caregiver. Some families may have a grandparent who can watch the baby part or full time. Then attend daycare any other days needed for the week. Others may not have any family that live close by for this to even be an option. When a family member watches the baby it could be either at the caregiver’s home or at the baby’s home.
If you choose to go the nanny route, the caregiver comes to your house to watch the baby. In addition, some nanny services do more than just watch children. They may do some cleaning and cooking or drive the baby to appointments or activities when it gets older.
Having a family member or nanny watch your baby provides the ultimate flexibility. However, it presents its challenges with coverage in the event the caregiver is sick or on vacation. It addition, it could be difficult to tell your family member specific instructions you want them to follow.
Things to Consider When Choosing Childcare For Your Baby
Besides picking which style of daycare you want, there are other things to consider when choosing child care for your baby.
Cost of Childcare
The cost of childcare is not cheap. You may check your finances and see if you can make it work to stay home with your baby. This even comes more into play as your family grows because so do daycare costs with more kids.
Typically an in home daycare is more cost effective than a daycare center. This is because they do not have the facility costs and some other back end costs.
A nanny is probably the most expensive because the ratio is low and you are paying for the convenience. Family members may be the most cost effective child care option if you have that option available.
Location of the Daycare
The location of your caregiver is a big factor in choosing childcare for your baby. Ideally you want childcare close to home. This is nice so your baby does not have to ride far in the car. If close to home isn’t an option, then choose childcare in between your work and home. Dropping off and picking up from daycare does take extra time in your day. After a few weeks it becomes part of your normal routine. However, the last thing you will want to do after work is drive out of your way to pick up your baby.
Another instance where childcare location comes into play is for appointments. For example, if your baby gets sick and needs to go to the doctor it is helpful to be close to daycare. Make sure to check drive times to and from daycare from work and home before committing to using them. Also, make sure to do test runs before your first day of work.
Daycare Schedule and Availability
When choosing child care for your baby check the hours the daycare center or caregiver is available. For instance, if they only are open from 8am – 4pm but you need care until 5pm then that option will not work. Furthermore, if you need daycare outside of the normal first shift hours, your options may be more limited.
Along with the daily schedule, ask about policy and procedures for holidays, vacations, closings, baby sickness and their sickness. This way you can be prepared for when you are back to work. Their availability needs to work in your schedule as this will likely affect your decision.
What the Daycare Provides
When choosing child care for your baby ask the caregiver what is provided. Some places may provide formula, food, and snacks for the baby while others make you bring them. Still others may provide diapers, wipes, kleenex, etc while others do not. This should also be factored into costs when you are figuring out paying for child care.
Research Childcare Options In Advance
The earlier you can look into choosing child care for your baby the better. Some daycare centers and in home daycares have waitlists and are hard to get into. It would be devastating to find a caregiver you love, but not use them because they are full. Also, by researching your options in advance you can potentially save time and money by gong with with your number one option.
As a brand new momma the last thing you should be stressing about on your maternity leave is choosing childcare for your baby.
Start researching all options early in your pregnancy so you have time to decide and go with a plan that you feel 100% comfortable.
Making the Final Childcare Decision
Before you make your final decision check references for each childcare option you are considering. Ask people that currently use that childcare what the strengths and weaknesses are for that caregiver or daycare. Check into the costs and what is provided to help you make your decision.
In the end, you have to decide what will work best for you and your baby. A daycare center, in home daycare, and a family member or nanny all have their positives and negatives when it comes to choosing childcare for your baby. You may start out with one childcare provider and realize it is not working and have to switch. That is OK. Instead, your situation could change which would force you to change your baby’s childcare. All that matters is that you feel comfortable with whoever is watching your baby and that your baby is safe, happy, healthy and loved:)