Providing infant daycare is a task not to be taken lightly. It is so important for daycare providers to know what questions that parents will ask when looking for a local daycare center for their infant. It is also important for parents to understand the pros and cons of infant daycare.
Our interview with Silvana Clark, professional speaker and the author of 101 Tips for Child Development Training: 101 Quick Tips for Managing a Preschool or Daycare [Totline Publications, 1996], details the important aspects of selecting daycare for infants.
OwnADaycare: What options do parents have for infant daycare?
Silvana Clark: With a little effort, parents can find a variety of options. There are licensed in-home day care centers, private child care centers and centers with major chains such as Kinder Care and La Petite which have branches across the country. Many colleges have on-site child care centers that provide excellent care.
OwnADaycare: What is the earliest age that a parent should put his/her infant in daycare?
Silvana Clark: In my personal opinion not until the child is q12 months old. I know for many moms this is not an option. Around 3-4 months is a good time because it allows babies and parents to bond and gives mom the reassurance that her baby is “sturdy” and won’t break if someone handles that precious bundle!
OwnADaycare: What are some important questions that parents ask when selecting an infant care provider?
Silvana Clark: Parents usually visit each facility at least twice and at different times of the day. Drop by unannounced. Questions they ask include:
- Will my baby have their own bed?
- How are bottles and formula stored? Are there seat belts on high chairs and infant seats?
- Are babies held during feeding? Are babies out of the crib when awake? Is the facility licensed?
- Are emergency exits clearly marked? How often are smoke detectors checked?
- How often are changing tables disinfected?
- Is water temperature below 120 degrees?
- Are there quiet areas for baby to sit and observe?
- How is the cleanliness of the kitchen?
- What stimulating activities are available for babies?
OwnADaycare: What is an appropriate and safe teacher-infant ratio?
Silvana Clark: Most people agree a 1:4 ratio is what works best for infants. Some centers actually require a 1:3 ratio which is fantastic!
OwnADaycare: What are the pros and cons of infant daycare?
Silvana Clark: It’s obvious I’m a firm believer that infants need to be with a parent. When our daughter was born I planned on working part time. My husband and I had typical middle class jobs and made an equal salary. After I decided to stay home our income was cut in half. Yet we felt the sacrifice was worth it to stay home. In a quality child care situation, your child will learn there are many people who take care of him or her. They are stimulated by seeing other babies and get used to sleeping in a not so quiet environment. On the other hand, some studies show children in childcare get sick more often because of the number of possible germs.
OwnADaycare: Some parents have concerns that putting their child in infant daycare will disrupt attachment and bonding. What are your thoughts?
Silvana Clark: lf your child must be in childcare, do whatever possible to spend time with them. Can you visit during your lunch hour? In the evenings, take walks and play games with your child. It’s easy to want to come home and clean house or simply watch TV. Your baby needs interaction with their favorite toy…you! Put the baby in the snuggly while you clean. Read them books instead of sitting them in front of a video.
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