First published Spring/Summer 2011
If you have decided to return to work, you will need to arrange for someone to look after your baby. There are many childcare options available. Most common are friends or relatives, nannies, au pairs, in-home and workplace childcare, and daycare centers. The goal is finding the right arrangement for you and your family.
Dr. Teri Sullivan, a 38-year veteran clinical psychologist who specializes in working women’s issues, says kids thrive in highquality childcare — no matter what type, or where. “Babies need someone to care for them who loves them, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be a parent,” she says.
Tips for finding good childcare follow.
Begin the search while you’re still pregnant.
The better providers tend to have long waiting lists.
Interview more than one childcare center.
You’ll learn about their philosophies and pricing.
Get childcare referrals.
Ask your friends or neighbors who use childcare for their recommendations.
Find out the qualifications of the caregivers.
Be sure the daycare is state-licensed. Find out if the providers are certified in CPR/first aid. If you’re using a nanny, ask for at least two references.
Ask a lot of questions.
Find out the baby-caregiver ratio, what the activities are, how naps/ feedings are handled, how they charge for services, and the policy if a baby gets sick.
Stay in close proximity to home or work.
Make sure childcare is easy to reach quickly.
Keep an eye out for those red flags.
Visit the provider several times in the first three months, and at least once before you sign up. Look for red flags. Are babies sitting around in dirty diapers? Is the TV on all day? Does the staff look overwhelmed? Are children neglected? Is the facility dirty or disorganized? Any of these red fl ags indicates that the daycare is poorly organized — and is not a good, safe choice for your child.
Paula Peters is a working mother, an awardwinning entrepreneur and the author of The Working Mom’s Survival Guide.