Child Care Services
Child care is an area of immediate concern for new parents. Once you have a baby, almost immediately you start to think about when you have to hand them over to a child care provider. In some areas, waiting lists for day care centers and nannies are long and you must think about child care before you give birth!
Deciding you need child care is only the first step. Choosing the childcare service that is best for you and your baby is the next step. Your choices vary depending on your area. Typical child care choices are nannies, daycare centers, pre-schools, and baby sitters within your family or group of friends.
Nannies offer one-to-one care in your home. A good nanny should be experienced, understand your child's developmental and emotional needs, be patient, and be reliable. Nannies work well for children of all ages from infant to toddler and beyond.
Daycare centers and home daycare are the most popular child care options. Daycare centers are well suited to children of many ages, if it is a high quality center. Daycare centers offer structure, an educational program that promotes your child's physical and mental development, and socialization. Daycare centers work best when the teacher-child ratios are low.
Home daycare can be a good alternative to daycare centers—if the home daycare is licensed and high quality. Home daycare offers smaller groups of children, a single, consistent caregiver, and offers the comfort of home.
Pre-schools offer programming that is similar to the curriculum your child will experience in primary school. The focus on academics is the primary difference between pre-school and daycare centers. Most pre-schools only accept children between the ages of 2 1/2 and 5.
Babysitters include friend, family, and the local teenager that you trust to care for your child. They are the temporary, need-a-night-out answer to child care. Babysitters typically come to your home to watch your child anywhere from two to six hours at a time. Babysitters are typically called for after-school care, evenings out, and to watch your child during child-free events.
Making the decision to stay home or go back to work is the most grueling decision you will ever make—a decision filled with the usual mommy-guilt and torment. Not all parents are meant to stay at home however—be honest with yourself from the very beginning. You shouldn't feel guilty because you need time away from your child in order to be a good parent.
You deserve a life apart from your child and your child deserves quality child care. Research the child care services in your area and make a decision that will work for you and your child.