Sometimes you must find child care even for young babies. This happens most often when the parents work outside the home. You may have many choices when it comes to choosing child care for your baby. You may have a neighbor or relative who can take care of him. Or, you may decide to use a day-care center or family home.
It’s a good idea to visit several centers or homes before choosing one. Watch how the staff teaches the children. Watch how the children are cared for. If a neighbor or relative cares for your baby, make sure he or she likes your baby. Make sure he or she knows how important it is to keep your baby safe.
Tips on choosing day care
- Always ask to see the center’s or home’s license. To get a license, a center must follow certain rules. Homes also must follow rules to be licensed. The rules cover cleanliness and safety. The rules tell centers and homes to have enough staff to care for the children.
- The center or home should welcome visits by parents at any time. The center or home should be clean and should look nice. The staff should spend time talking and playing with the children. The staff should be gentle but have control over the children.
- After you choose a center or home, be sure to follow the rules set by the center or home. Make sure you pick up your baby on time. Give the center or home your baby’s shot record. Tell the staff about any special needs, such as allergies, that your baby has. If you are breastfeeding, let the staff know that you will come in for feedings or you
will provide your breast milk in bottles. The staff should call you right away if your baby seems sick or has a minor accident.
Your baby may be upset at first about staying in a strange place. This is normal. You and the staff can work together to help your baby get used to being in child care. After your baby has settled into a routine, he should become relaxed about going to child care.
Day-care providers to avoid:
- Avoid centers or homes that don’t want parents dropping by
- Avoid centers or homes where you see children left alone.
- Avoid centers or homes where children seem bored or unhappy.
- Avoid centers or homes where staff yell at the children a lot.
- Avoid centers or homes that are dirty or unsafe.
If your friends or relatives care for your baby, go over carefully with them how to make things safe for your baby, especially as he gets older. As a mother, you know to never leave your baby alone, to put him in a safe crib to sleep, to
secure him in a stroller and to never shake him. However, sometimes even people who love you and your baby may not know these things. Be sure that they understand how to keep your baby safe and comfortable.
To learn more about child-care options, you can contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Child Care Aware by phone at 1-800-424-2246 or visit their Web site at www.childcareaware.org/
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