Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Choosing a Daycare or Babysitter for Babies

I believe one of the hardest things for parents of a newborn is selecting a daycare or babysitter that they can trust. The days of mothers staying home once they give birth are long gone. Economic demands make dual incomes a necessity. Thus after the six weeks maternity leave, many mothers are forced to return to work. There is nothing wrong with placing your child in a daycare center. Some mothers feel guilty. Yet, there is no reason to feel ashamed, nor should others make you feel like a bad parent. Many children are placed in childcare at very early ages and turn out fine. The key is selecting a childcare center or babysitter that you are comfortable with.

There has been a debate as to which is better for infants, daycare centers or home childcare facilities. There are advantages to both. Larger daycare facilities are great for starting social skills early. The sooner a baby is around other children, the easier it is for them to adjust to different surroundings and different people. The downside to larger daycare settings is that the baby is exposed to several other children. An infants immune system is still developing, thus some parents may not be comfortable with their baby in a large setting.

Parents may prefer to place their young infant in a home daycare. Some feel that home daycares are more personable. The smaller setting also carries less germs, thus the likelihood of your baby coming in contact with contagious germs are small. Newborns require constant attention. Some newborns are needier than others. Those that need to be held more may benefit from one on one childcare. In situations like this parents may decide on hiring a babysitter to come to the home during the work week. Selecting a good babysitter is just as important as choosing a good home or daycare center.

Family and friends will make great babysitters, if they are available. In most families grandparents may care for the infant while the parents work. This arrangement is perfect because the baby is being taken care of by a trusted member of the family. Often, parents must hire a stranger as a babysitter. This can be a difficult job. For forty or more hours a week this person will be responsible for your baby. Before placing an ad in the newspaper, talk with family, coworkers, friends, etc. These individuals may be able to recommend someone.

Neighborhood teenagers can make suitable sitters if they are old enough. Although we become qualified babysitters at twelve or thirteen years old, I would not recommend leaving a person this age in charge of a newborn. Preteens and those in their early teens are best suited to care for older children. A college age teenager may make a good candidate. Prior to hiring the new sitter, they should be interviewed. The person should have experience caring for very young children. Taking care of an infant is different from caring for a toddler. Newborns are fragile, and there is a proper way to hold them. Those who are not around newborns may not know to support the head or that an infant needs to be burped after eating. I am speaking from experience. I once cared for an infant when I had little experience. Admittedly, I did not know what I am doing, and I think the baby noticed.

The interview is the best way for parents to become acquainted with future sitters. This is also the time to get some background information on the candidate. Parents generally seek someone who is going to provide long term care. Thus during the interview it would be wise to inquire of their future work plans. Are they in school? Killing time until something better comes? Looking for extra money? If you sense that the sitter is not planning to work long. Move on to the next interview. Parents should also inquire whether the candidate has experience, CPR training, and reliable transportation. If there is a very likable individual without the necessary training, they should not be immediately cast to the side. Hospitals and organizations regularly offer affordable first aid training.

Once a sitter is selected, parents should inform them of their house and discipline policies. Lack of communication is one reason why sitters and parents butt heads. However, if the sitter adheres to house rules, and parents treat them as individuals and not servants, the two will get along well. Although newborns rarely need to be disciplined, sitters should put aside their feelings on the proper way to discipline and respect the way parents choose to punish their children. The sitter should also respect parents request to avoid smoking or cursing in front of the children. The important thing is to feel comfortable with your newborns caretaker. Parents should listen to their gut instinct. If they feel that their baby is not receiving the best care, they should seriously consider selecting a different daycare or babysitter.

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