How to Choose a Day Care Provider


Day Care Options

A large number of women go back to work after their babies are born, but many struggle with finding the ideal time to return to the work force. Of course, the right time for one woman will probably not be the right time for another. As you make this very personal choice, you'll also be exploring day care available for your child.

Deciding When to Return to Work

If you are one of the lucky ones who can make choices, and you choose to stay home, you may find yourself having second thoughts about your decision after a few weeks of uninterrupted baby care. On the bad days when everything goes wrong, you may feel hemmed in, trapped, and angry. You may be jealous of your partner who escapes every day to the adult world.

And if you go back to work, because you want to or because you must, you may not be entirely satisfied either. First, you need to come to terms with the daily separation from your baby, then with the fact that you will almost surely miss some "firsts" -- the first time she smiles, or turns over, or says "Mama." In addition, you may be bothered by another problem common to working women. One who does not feel pressure and guilt as she tries to satisfy her responsibilities as a wife, mother, and worker is indeed a rarity, even if she is able to stay home for several months, or even years, after the baby's birth. As some have put it, she takes on three full-time jobs and tries to do all three part-time. A fragmented feeling of being needed too much, of being pulled in several directions at once, seems to go with the territory of the working mother.

Of course, many mothers go back to work very soon after their babies are born and neither they nor their babies suffer. Most are gone from home for eight to ten hours a day. A few manage to work at home, to work part-time, or to have the advantage of working under the flexible-hours provisions some forward-looking companies now offer, but every arrangement has its disadvantages.

Many of these mothers and most medical professionals recommend that you wait, if you can, until your baby is four to six months old before you return to work, for several reasons. One, of course, is the matter of your health, both physical and mental. Your recovery will probably be complete by then, and your baby's sleeping habits are likely to have become fairly well established. Proper rest, nutrition, and exercise remain essential for you, even though time for them becomes more scarce. And along with the roles of worker, partner, and parent, you should devote at least some time and attention to taking care of your own needs.

Day Care Considerations

Unless they have a spouse, relative, or friend who is willing and able to look after the infant, women who return to work or school following the birth of their baby must find a day care service. If you are in this situation, it is important to ask around for information on the various day care services available in your area.

First, consider your child's needs. Some centers may expect your child to play quietly all day; others may provide a preschool atmosphere with structured activities. Consider how many children will be together during the day; large groups may not work well for a shy, easily lost child. The point here is the ideal day care situation is different for each child. One one year old may be ready for a structured preschool-type day care center, while another may be much happier staying with a neighbor. If you must leave a baby who is only a few weeks old, you may have trouble finding a sitter or day care center that accepts responsibility for such a young baby, and charges will probably be higher than those for an older baby.

Consider your needs. What hours will you need care, and what location would be most convenient? And, of course, you must consider how much you can afford.

Breast-Feeding and Day Care

Breast-feeding can be a problem of convenience, though it is possible to have the best of both worlds -- working and nursing -- if you are adaptable and willing to experiment. Your success depends upon your working conditions, your day care arrangements, your milk supply, and other factors. The tiniest of babies can be incredibly flexible, and you may be able to nurse the baby in the evenings and on the weekends when you are at home and have the day care person feed the baby bottles of formula or your expressed breast milk. You can safely store your breast milk in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours or in the freezer for two weeks.

Making the decision to return to the work force is often difficult for mothers, but once that choice has been made, they can begin to research the day care options available to them. Selecting a day care provider that is right for a family's specific situation and resources will ensure that the transition from stay-at-home mom to working mom is smooth -- if not easy! On the next page, we'll explore out-of-home day care options, including day care centers and family day care.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.