“Who will look after the baby?” This is a question that plagues all mothers even those who stay at home because there is always a time when it is not possible to watch over the child – a simple case being going to the toilet. Unless and until the mother takes the child into the bathroom with her, there is no way she can have a bath with a little child around her – especially a toddler who is awake.
Childcare- a universal problem
With changing work profiles and the need for double income families becoming the norm rather than the exception, consistent childcare is assuming greater importance. In the good old days with joint families this question didn’t arise as there were enough people around to watch over the child while mummy had something to do. However with nuclear families becoming more the norm, parents are concerned with this problem. Nuclear families are located far away from their natural support system (grandparents living close by or in the neighbourhood) and mothers often give up their jobs to stay home to look after their babies. As the child begins to go to nursery or kindergarten for a few hours a day, mothers slowly ease themselves back into the work force with part time work or the option of working from home.
While the Internet has facilitated remote working, this is not entirely a good option. Babies and toddlers have their own schedules and their own minds. It is hard to meet a deadline when your toddler’s mind set isn’t in tune with yours! It is a universal truth that when you are working towards a deadline the baby seems to sense your urgency and will change his sleep schedule, need a nappy change, fuss incessantly or just want YOU to play with him NOW.
Here are 5 reasons why day care is the better child care option:
- It is consistent: There is no question of whether the nanny / care giver will show up. Even if the regular carer is unable to come, an equally competent substitute is available.
- It is safe: With stringent rules for becoming child carers only the best qualified are employed. These women are trained in basic first aid, early childhood education and are vetted with extensive background checks.
- It is regular: Children love a routine and day care environment ensures that every day is like every other day. Meal times and nap times are strictly adhered to so baby’s life goes on regardless
- Structured activities: Babies have more of a structured day in Day Care with planned age appropriate activities. While education is not the primary aim, it helps that the baby has more meaningful activities added to his day. And don’t worry about regimentation and too much structure. There is enough down time for babies to do their own activities – play and indulge in their own independent games with complete supervision.
- Socialisation: With smaller families and especially families where both parents work, a child left alone in the care of a nanny or grandparent is at a disadvantage of not having any peer interaction. In a day care, the child has plenty of opportunity to interact with other children.
Over the past three decades I have looked after my own children and now my grandchildren. While I have tried to replicate a day care regimen at home , I know that it is not always possible for every grandparent/ parent to do so. Both my girls were brought up together because they are closer in age and had each other. Similarly my grandchildren had the luxury of being cared for in a joint family while their parents were at work. With older people and young cousins , they had the opportunity to interact with intelligent, caring individuals who were always around to guide and entertain them. But in the absence of such a facility, I would strongly recommend a well recognised Day Care.
As with everything in life, do your due diligence before choosing your day care. Avoid Day cares that are run by individuals in a home setting. Even though the day care operator has a license to conduct a day care, I would choose a more professional set up. Children in Day Cares are more prone to infections especially coughs and colds so that is the real downside to Day Care. But on the other hand children get sick anyways and that’s no reason to keep them cloistered at home. During a recent trip to the US I was lucky to visit a Day Care situated on the same campus as the parents’ work place. Now obviously this is an ideal situation but even if a day care is not, I find this the best childcare option.