Whether your decision to enroll your infant in daycare is because you have to return to work or because you want your child to socialize with other children the same age, the decision is never an easy one to make. There are many questions prospective daycare parents have and so many conflicting theories around whether an infant should attend daycare in the first place, that all parents need to do some research and come to the conclusion that best suits their child and family.
When Should You Consider Infant Daycare?
There is no magic age that is perfect for an infant to be enrolled in a daycare, but it is generally understood that just after the age of one:
- Their language, social and motor skills start developing.
- They start trying to learn and explore.
- They seem to have less separating anxiety, which seems to peak at the age of nine months.
However, it must not be forgotten that they are still babies with a very short concentration span, that require constant supervision and a lot of attention, so choosing the correct daycare is crucial.
The Benefits Of Enrolling Your Infant In Daycare
The choice to enroll your child in daycare has enormous benefits for both parent and child. Children and parents benefit from:
Regular Schedule and ActivitiesRegular songs, storytelling, and fun tasks are very important for a child’s intellectual growth and development. A structured schedule during the day also often results in the infant behavior being less erratic at the end of the day.
Time Spent with PeersIn a supervised, safe and structured environment, children learn to share, play and learn with children their own age.
Time Spent with Other AdultsChildren learn to accept other adults as mentors and authority figures from a young age.
TransitionIt allows for a smoother transition into kindergarten, for both the parents and the child.
Social BenefitsThe is a social benefit for the parents too, parents meet other parents who are in a similar stage of life, and get to share experiences and advice and often form lifelong friendships.
Studies Conducted Around Infant Daycare
There have been numerous studies done on the long-term effects of infant daycare:
- The United States National Institute of Health did a study of 1300 children and concluded that 90% of the children with increased cognitive and academic achievement scores, attended daycare.
- In 2009, The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development published a study stating “There is no threat to the bond between infants who attend daycare and their mothers, as long as the child receives sensitive and positive care when at home.”
- The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) also conducted a study on 1000 infants over a period of 15 years. The result of their study was “What matters most is not the kind of care the child receives from the caregiver (nanny, parent, daycare or preschool) but the nature of the home experience.
What Should You Look For In A Daycare?
If you are planning to enroll your infant in a good daycare, you must ensure that your name is on their waiting list. Reputable and popular daycare facilities usually have a long waiting list, so it would be a good idea to put your name on one even before your baby is born.
When shopping around for daycare, be sure to ask a lot of questions, and also have a list that to you, is not negotiable. Your list should include:
- The rooms should all have outlet covers and smoke detectors.
- The cabinets containing any harmful substances should remain locked.
- The toys should all be age-appropriate without any choking hazards.
- Food served should be safe and healthy. Ask to see their menu, ensure it contains healthy, well-balanced meals and snacks.
- Adult supervision must be no less than one adult to four children.
- Do the caregivers and children have access to water for handwashing?
- Is the diaper changing area clean and are the diapers disposed of correctly?
- Are the sleeping and eating areas spotless?
- Are they licensed and properly trained in infant care, including First Aid?
- Do they engage with the children in regular play and challenge skills development?
- Do they communicate well and give regular feedback on the child’s progress?
- Do they encourage surprise pop-in visits?
- Has the daycare done an appropriate background check that clears the caregiver to work with children?
Advice For New Daycare parents
Enrolling your infant in daycare for the first time will impact you, the parent, mentally, physically and emotionally, but it is important to remember that all new daycare parents feel that way. Here are some tips from parents who have traveled this road before:
- The first few weeks are the hardest, but it does get easier.
- You will have an internal struggle where you will be torn with wanting to stay home with your infant, but you also love your job and crave adult interaction. You are not alone in this struggle.
- The first couple of drop-offs are traumatic for you and your child, so talk to the caregivers about how you can ease into this time. You may stay with your child the first day, then for half the day and continue to slowly shorten the goodbyes until you are both comfortable. This takes planning, so take the time to do so.
- You will cry a lot during those first few days, and that is okay. Be kind to yourself during this emotional period, and try to do something fun that you cannot normally do.
- Talk to the other parents in the group about their experiences, a lot of parents make lifelong friends during this time.
If you are looking for specialized infant daycare, that accepts infants from six weeks to 24 months, contact Parkland Children’s Academy today.