Choosing Quality Child Care


With more and more of today’s mothers returning to work within the first year of their babies’ lives, it becomes ever more important for parents to make good choices about the childcare they find.  This is such a difficult thing; there are often many choices: care in your home, care in someone else’s home, or care in a childcare or early education center.  There are the considerations of costs involved, as well as the psychological issues of leaving ones’ beloved baby with someone else.  In the following discussion, recognize that the considerations mentioned are based on the primary developmental needs of your little one. 

The most important developmental task of the first year of life is forming a sense of attachment to the primary caregivers.  Obviously, the baby’s parents are primary caregivers, but so is the individual in the infant child care arrangement you select.  Forming a sense of mutual attachment lies at the foundation of all other development – healthy personality, social and emotional development, as well as the language and cognitive development in early years.  This means that you are looking for an individual who understands that quality infant child care relies on forming a close relationship with the baby, as well as supporting the strong attachment between infant and parents. 

Continuity of child care – repeated experiences with the same people over time – is something that you should look for, whether in a home arrangement or in a daycare, childcare or early learning center.  It is important to assess whether the caregivers have been there for a while and are likely to remain.  Many quality child care programs now also institute patterns of primary care giving, meaning that one adult is primarily responsible for the care and communication with a small group of infants and their families.  Primary care giving arrangements allow caregivers to tune in to individual needs, facilitating attachment and relationships. 

A good recommendation is to put continuity of care and primary care giving arrangements at the top of the list of your requirements.  Babies thrive on responsive care–having their individual needs recognized and met by their caregivers in a prompt, predictable way.  Questions about feeding and sleeping schedules should elicit responses indicating that your child’s individual needs will be the driving force behind a personal schedule in the early months, and later individualized planning will support children’s and family needs. 

Caregivers who are knowledgeable about child development will understand how their childcare interactions not only support a sense of trust but also embed the stimulation needed for early brain development.  It takes very special people to become involved in warm, nurturing childcare relationships with babies and their parents and to provide the interesting environments that support healthy foundations for early learning.  Take the time to assess the emotional climate and relationships in the places you consider for your baby’s care.
© Growing Child, Inc.