One of the saddest parts of a maternity leave coming to an end is the realization that you will have to let go of the baby you have cared for around the clock since it’s arrival. Having to put your baby in daycare so you can return to work is emotional. You want to find a place that you feel comfortable with and that your baby will like. Here are my tips for finding the perfect daycare that meets all your expectations so you can go to work without worrying about your little one.
Home Daycare Vs. Daycare Center
First you will have to decide if you would rather your baby be in a home daycare with a smaller number of kids or in a daycare center with a larger number of kids. This is all personal preference. Maybe you would rather your baby attend a licensed home daycare where the child can feel at home and still have some of the creature comforts they experienced with you such as eating lunch in the kitchen, playing outside in the backyard and going for walks in a neighborhood setting.
Or maybe you are thinking more along the lines of a daycare center where the child will be around a larger number of kids in different age groups and days may be more structured and has a bit of a school feel to prepare them for when they are older and go to school with outdoor activities as well.
Let’s take a closer look at licensed home daycare and daycare centers.
Advantages/Disadvantages Of Home Daycare
We will start with advantages:
- Care takes place in the caregivers home with amenities your child should already be used to
- Smaller concentration of kids equaling more one on one time with each child
- Usually provides at least 1 home cooked meal (lunch) and 2 healthy snacks
- Supervisors visit the home frequently to do safety checks
- Cheaper than daycare centers
- Flexibility with pick up and drop off times
- The caregiver is the only one caring for all the kids so you feel like you get to know who is taking care of your child
Now lets look at the disadvantages:
- May take longer to find a spot since home daycare often have a significantly lower amount of spaces they can offer than a daycare center (in my area a licensed home daycare is only allowed 6 children total and no more than 2 of the same age group).
- The days may be less structured or have no structure compared to a daycare center
- If the caregiver is sick there isn’t a back up plan for care
- If the daycare is unlicensed there are no safety checks and the caregiver may take on more kids than she can handle
Advantages/Disadvantages of Daycare Centers
We will again start with the advantages:
- The day is very structured and educational
- Likely to have a more enriched education curriculum than home daycare
- There is more than one caregiver so if one is sick your child will still be able to attend
- More toys and variety of toys to play with
- Opportunities to socialize with more children and teachers
- More secured entrance and possible in-house video for surveillance
Let us explore the disadvantages:
- A lot more expensive than a home daycare
- Less flexibility for drop off and pick up times. Can be charged a late fee for being just a few minutes late
- Different caregivers throughout the day and less likely for you and your child to bond with the caregivers
- Offers a school-like environment your child may not be ready for.
Visit Before You Decide
Home Daycare and daycare centers will let the parents and child visit so you can get a feel of what your child will experience. You can also see how the child reacts to the environment as well. These visits can take place during the week when the other kids are there too so you can see roughly how many children your child will be interacting with.
Sometimes all it takes is one visit to make the decision. Maybe your child was more comfortable when you visited the home daycare or maybe your child enjoyed the school-like atmosphere of a daycare center with more kids better. You can also get a feel if you will be comfortable leaving your child there too.
My daughter and I visited both a daycare center and a home daycare and she left my side right away at the home daycare and started to play. At the daycare center she was wouldn’t let go of me to go play with the other kids at all. I don’t know if that meant that she didn’t like it but I felt she was more at ease with the home daycare which is what I decided on. Your child can often tell you where they would rather be.
Letting go of your kid for the first time is very hard and emotional but it can be easier on you knowing the right choice was made for your child and they are going to be happy in their new environment. You will both adjust and will appreciate the time you have together even more.
Did you choose a home daycare or daycare center? I would love to know in the comments below.
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