When it comes to going back to work at the end of their parental leave many mums are faced with the problem of finding the best child care for their baby. If you are one of the lucky ones you will have a doting Nanna just waiting for the chance to take care of her new grandchild. If there is no Nanna nearby then you are faced with finding the best childcare for your baby.
What is the right day care?
Your first decision will be the type of childcare you want. You may want to put your baby into a registered day care because they are registered and approved by the government. This type of day care needs to maintain a standard of care set out by government regulations. You can read a copy of these standards here.
Perhaps you would prefer to have someone to take care of your baby at home. You might feel this would be less disruptive for your baby. If this is what you choose then you need to be very sure you find the right person. If they come with references be sure to check them and if you are able to meet and speak to any of the referees you should. Remember, references are easy to fake. You should also do a thorough criminal background check on anyone you hire.
This is a huge decision for any parent and you should start looking early so you are not under pressure to make an immediate decision on which child care is best.
What should I look for?
If you are putting your child into a day care outside your home there are several things you need to look for.
- First and foremost you should ensure the premises are clean and that the staff are properly trained. If you have read through the standards set out by the Government (check the link above) look for indications that the center is making every effort to meet those standards. Also if your baby is on any medication make sure the staff is able to administer it. You also need to know how any allergies you child may have will be managed. Also ask about their policy on immunization.
- Your baby needs attention. He needs some cuddle time and some comfort when he gets distressed. You should meet the person who will be your baby’s primary carer at the center. You should be comfortable and compatible with this person. It is important to be very clear on what you expect from them when it comes to your baby. It is important to know the person who is your baby’s carer will still be there next year so ask them how long they have worked there and try to learn how they feel about the center and the work.
- When you first visit the center to check it out take a look around. Are the carers cuddling one of the children and paying attention to all of them. How much time will be spent in front of the TV? Does the group consist of babies and older children? Are there young babies who are not crawling spending time on the floor giving them a chance to develop physically and strengthen muscles? What sort of toys are they playing with? Make sure there are not toys that could be dangerous to your baby such a button eyes on teddy bears etc. Things like that can be a choking hazard for a baby.
- Does this child care center understand your own philosophy on caring for you child? If there are some things you don’t agree with? Is the center staff willing to listen and do as much as they can to follow your wishes? Can you reach a compromise that will keep everyone happy and that you feel comfortable with?
- Mother’s seem to develop a sixth sense when it comes to their baby and you should listen to what your sixth sense tells you. If you have any doubts about the center then walk away.
- Remember, this child care center employee who is caring for your child is filling your shoes during the day as your baby’s carer and needs to be as committed to your baby as you are. Until your baby can speak for himself you need to speak for him. You need to agree with his schedule at the center. When is rest time? What food and drinks will be offered? How does the center handle discipline?
Make a list.
Before interviewing child care centers make a list of what you expect of your child’s care. You can base this on what you would do if you were caring for your baby at home. You have every right to expect the best possible care for your child and it is up to you to see that your child gets that care.
Drop in unexpectedly a few times and see what is happening. If you are happy with what you see then you have found the care center you are looking for. If not, keep looking.
Leaving your baby with strangers is never easy so expect a few tears the first few days. Yours, probably not the baby’s. Returning to work for many mothers and having to leave their baby is very distressing so don’t be too hard on yourself. If you are worried ring the center and ask how he is doing.
When you pick him up after work make sure his carer gives you a comprehensive report on his day. How many bottles he had, what he ate and drank, what times did he sleep. was he settled, how many nappies he used and so on.
When you drop him off in the morning make sure you give the carer a full report on how he slept overnight, when his next feed is due, if he has been restless and irritable and anything else you can think of that will give his carer a guide to his care needs during the day.
I am sure you will find excellent day care for your baby and I would love to hear about it so please leave me a comment below.