Are you a parent looking to enroll in child care? I’d be happy to answer any questions from a parent or teacher’s perspective.
I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now because I’m sure that there are a lot of new parents out there struggling with the idea of daycare. It’s never easy to think about leaving your baby in someone else’s care, but many parents do it every day. I have been working in early childhood settings ever since I graduated from college with my degree in child development. I’ve been an infant teacher, toddler teacher, and administrator at child care centers, so I know what it’s like to work in a child care center and take care of other people’s children. It’s not always easy. I also understand now just how hard it can be from a parent’s perspective. I dropped off Jack for his first day of daycare when he was just shy of 8 weeks old. It was not an easy day for me. I remember that feeling of having to trust a complete stranger with my precious baby. This is why I feel like I am the perfect person to write a post on the pros and cons of daycare.
It’s often a personal or a financial decision to continue to work after having a child. For me, it was a mix of both. My husband and I felt that we weren’t at the financial place we wanted to be at to support our family with just one income, so I continued to work. Plus, I actually like my job. It has been the best job that I’ve had since I graduated college and I wasn’t ready to give that up yet, so after a short maternity leave, I went back to work. I’m grateful that I don’t work too long of hours and I do have a lot of flexibility with my job if needed, plus it was nice knowing that my husband was able to be home with Jack most days in the beginning. For the first 9 months, my husband stayed home with Jack 2-3 days a week, which was nice. We found a small Christian child care center close to our home that had the right price. At first, I had my concerns about leaving him, but overall I’m happy with the setting and Jack seems to love it. His teachers are very sweet and I can tell when I drop him off that he’s in good hands.
So what are the cons of starting your baby in child care? Here is what I came up with.
1.) It’s not you
If you are planning on heading back to work after having a baby, one thing that you have to accept is that no one is going to take care of your baby the same way that you will. I knew that things would be different if it was just me taking care of Jack. It’s hard for teachers to care for your child the same way that you would because it’s a different setting and there are other children that need their attention too. You have to accept that your baby will eat differently, sleep different and play differently while they are away from you and that’s okay.
2.) Child care staff turn over
Child care jobs are some of the lowest paid jobs out there. Many places require the bare minimum qualifications of their teachers and pay them minimum wages, while other higher quality programs have higher standards for their teachers and still only pay them a little over minimum wage. This is why many child care centers are a constant revolving door. Just in the first few months that Jack was at his center, he had a number of teachers come and go. As a parent it makes you question what is going on behind closed door. All you can really do is trust that anyone who takes a job to work with young children has there heart in the right place.
3.) Germs and Illness
Unfortunately, children can carry lots of germs and with germs comes illness. I’ve seen lots of children start in a child care settings and then get sick quickly, because they have never been exposed to the foreign germs. My best advice for that is to start your baby early. The earlier you expose them to the germs the more their little immune system can build up a tolerance. I’d also recommend breastfeeding. Breastmilk has antibodies in it that help protect against infection. The month that I stopped breastfeeding Jack, he got his first ear infection. He never even had a runny nose before that.
4.) No one-on-one care
Most centers have a 1:4 ratio in the infant room, which means that your precious little one and only is going to have to share the attention. It’s impossible for the teachers to attend to your baby perfectly, so in some cases, they might have to cry and not be held and comforted right away. They might have to wait for their food longer than at home. It’s just the reality of not being the only one to care for.
After listening the cons, I have to end on a positive note and tell you the pros of child care.
It is so cute to see Jack start to interact with his friends. He’s the first child in our family, so he doesn’t have any siblings at home to interact with and learn from. I love that he can go to school and play with his little buddies. You would be amazed with how early children start to engage with their peers and learn from each other.
2.) Helps build up their immune systems
I mentioned that illness is a con of daycare, but on the opposite side of that, the germs that they are exposed to can also be a benefit of child care. It definitely helps build a child’s immune system. Parents who keep their kids at home until preschool or kindergarten often find that their kids get sick all the time. As I said before, the earlier you expose them to germs, sometimes the better.
Most child care centers have a curriculum that they follow, even with babies. They do learning activities with them throughout the day. They paint, read books, dance, do sensory exploration, it all helps meet their developmental needs. When choosing a center, I would ask about the curriculum and find out how they implement it with the infants and toddlers.
4.) Cheaper than a Nanny
My husband and I had thought about getting a nanny who could be flexible with our schedule needs, but after doing the math it was just not worth the cost. It was much cheaper for us to pay for full time care at a child care center than it was to pay for part time care with a nanny. When looking into child care, look at the price and see what they offer, but you are almost always going to find that a child care center is cheaper than a private nanny.
Honestly, child care can be a really great thing for you and your baby, but you really need to decide if it’s the right fit for you as a parent. It’s a personal decision that you have to make as a parent.