Ending maternity or paternity leave is always a little sad. Although the prospect of spending your day surrounded by people with command of their bodily habits is admittedly enticing, it means leaving your little one in the hands of someone else. For some parents, a nanny or grandparent may be an option. Other parents choose daycare, whether for stability, financial reasons, or a means of providing same age socialization for the baby. Before you set out finding the right daycare, it’s important to decide if daycare is the right option for your family.
Center versus Home-Based Daycare
Center daycares are generally located in a building devoted specifically to child care. There may be a variety of rooms for different ages with appropriate teachers or caregivers in each room. Home-based daycares are located in someone’s home. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Some parents prefer the smaller home setting for babies and larger centers for older children.
Daycare centers have lots of children and provide structured learning environments. They often offer outdoor play equipment and may transport children to other learn and play facilities. Most states have stringent laws regarding licensing and staffing at daycare centers.
Home-based daycares are smaller and more intimate. These organizations incorporate learning and play in a more relaxed environment, but may not have the facilities or faculty for some of the things larger centers can provide. Additionally, smaller home daycares do not have to be licensed; in most states, licensing is not required until a specific amount of children is met. Be very, very careful and investigative when looking into home-based daycares.
Appropriate Age for Daycare
Some parents do not have a choice about when to put the baby in daycare. Employers can provide up to eight weeks of paid time off for the birth of a baby, but not all of them do. Furthermore, parents who work part-time or in other positions without benefits may not be able to afford taking six to eight weeks off work. Starting daycare is more traumatic for the parents than Baby, and ideally, your child should start daycare when all of you are ready. However, it is important to note that separation anxiety becomes prominent around six to eight months, so starting daycare before it kicks in can be helpful. Older toddlers may have a difficult time transitioning from parent to daycare.
If thinking about sending your kiddo to daycare makes you shudder, you might want to consider alternatives. Some jobs are willing to work with parents, arranging for telecommute days a few times a week. If one parent has a large enough salary to sustain the household, or maybe you just don’t want to go back to work. Other options might include a babysitter or nanny. Babysitters generally go to your house or have you leave your child with them for a set amount of hours (i.e., while you’re at work), while a nanny might live with you full-time or spend longer periods of time with your child. Whatever you do, make sure it’s in your child’s best interests and the best option for your family.