Childcare : The Options

Childcare : The OptionsStart thinking about your options for childcare now, before you start finalizing your own career plans.

There are few rights and wrongs when it comes to childcare - but there is a right way for your baby, you, and the other members of your family. Some full-time mothers have babies who thrive on being cared for at home; other at home moms find themselves embroiled in household chores and less able to give a baby the care and attention he needs. Some babies benefit from from the early socialization a daycare center gives them; others seem to need more individual attention.

Thinking About Yorself

If you know that full-time motherhood is not for you, spend as much time as you can finding a caregiver for your baby, but don't feel you have to get back to work right after the birth just because your childcare is arranged. You need time to recover physically from the birth and to get used to all the changes, mental and emotional, that motherhood brings.

Making the most of the time you spend at home will help to build your relationship with your baby. You will have an opportunity to lay to rest any nagging doubts about whether you should stay at home or for how long. If you stay at home until breast-feeding is well established, you may be able to express milk for your baby to have during the day and maintain a couple of breast-feedings - perhaps early morning and bedtime - once you return to work.

Which type of Care is Right for You?

If you think that you would like to stay at home but worry that you will not be able to afford it, include in your calculations what you will save by not working - fares, lunches, business wardrobe, and, of course, the cost of childcare. figure out exactly how much you need to pay for the essentials and consider changes that might help you to manage. When they sit down to work it out, many couples are surprised by how little they have to earn.

At-Home Care by a Family Member

Childcare : The OptionsToday more and more fathers take an active role in raising their children, and for some couples, Dad's staying at home is good option. As long as your baby has a stable environment - with a caregiver who loves him, is there for him, and makes him feel important - the gender of the caregiver really doesn't matter. The other obvious family member to ask is one of the baby's grandparents.


  • Your baby has all the advantages of home - the security of familiar surroundings, his own toys and equipment, and his own crib.

  • He has the full, individual attention of the caregiver.

  • You do not have to add traveling to a sitter or daycare center to your already busy day.

  • Since he is exposed to fewer other children and their germs, your baby is likely to get fewer coughs, colds, and childhood illnesses.

  • Fathers who take such an active role in raising their children tend to have a stronger relationship with them in later life.

  • Grandparents are often revitalized by this new role.


  • You may start to resent the close relationship building between your partner and your baby and feel you are somehow missing out.

  • Despite the growing number of at-home fathers, dads are still in the minority at parent-and-baby meetings and play groups. If this makes your partner unwilling to frequent such gatherings, your baby may not many opportunities to be with other children.

  • If you ask your parent or parent-in-law to be the caregiver, you may find he or she has fixed ideas on child rearing that are different from yours. Do you have an honest enough enough relationship to be able to tell him or her that this is not the interaction you want with your child?

Care in Another's Home

Another mother may care for your child, perhaps along with her own children, in her own home.


  • This type of care usually costs less than a nanny, since the caregiver is not devoting herself to one child only.

  • Her care is more personal than that of a daycare center, and she may be more flexible about hours.

  • Your child will have plenty of opportunity to socialize with others - this can be especially important for only children, who need opportunities to learn respect for the feelings of other children.

  • Licensed care providers have met certain state legal standards.


  • Since she has more than one child to care for, the caregiver may be unable to give your child the individual attention you might prefer.

  • The caregiver may be unwilling to have your child if he is sick.

  • You have to add traveling time to your schedule.

  • The caregiver will have her own ideas on baby care and may be unwilling to listen to yours.

  • There may be no back-up if the caregiver is sick.

Care in a Daycare Center

In a daycare center, your baby is cared for with other children by trained staff. Many centers take children of all ages, from babies to school age.


  • Staff trained in baby and child development can provide plenty of opportunities for stimulating play geared to your baby's level of development.

  • A day care center offers social contact for your baby, although this is is less important for infants than for older babies and toddlers.

  • Since there are several caregivers, your baby is unlikely to be upset by a change of caregiver: someone familiar always close by. Such continuity of care can be important.


  • A day care center can be expensive, unless it is subsidized by your workplace.

  • Because of the large number of children in such facilities, the rate of childhood illness tends to be higher than with other options.

  • Your baby will not enjoy the same one-to-one relationship as with a nanny or family member.

  • You have to add traveling time to your schedule (unless the nursery is at your workplace)

At-Home Care by a Nanny

A nanny is an employee paid to look after your child. Some live in, becoming part of the family; others come on a daily basis. "Nanny sharing," by which you and a friend employ a nanny to come into one of your homes and look after both babies, is also an option.


  • As with at-home care by a family member, your baby is in familiar surroundings and has all his toys around him.

  • He is likely to be exposed to fewer germs than in other situations.

  • He has the benefit of individual love and attention from an adult other than Mommy and Daddy.


  • Exclusivity can be costly.

  • You may resent having another person in your home, particularly one who, as you hope, is developing a close relationship with your baby. If the caregiver lives in, you may suffer a loss of rivacy as a couple.

  • Once the baby has formed bond with the caregiver, he will suffer a loss if that person is not there, through sickness, family problems, or another job after.

  • Your baby may also not get much opportunity to mix with other children.

Dated 27 April 2012


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