Choosing the right person or people to take care of your baby while you’re away can seem like a daunting task. But if you do your homework, ask the right questions and trust your instincts, you may just end up adding some really wonderful people into your baby’s life.

This finding childcare guide gives you an overview of some typical infant childcare options:

Finding Childcare

» Daycare Center
» Nanny
» Au Pair
» Family Childcare
» Family Member
» Babysitter
» Additional Resources

Also check out: http://nrckids.org/ and http://www.healthychildcare.org/ for finding childcare and more information.

 


Daycare Center


Definition

A facility of varying size, usually grouped by age, with teachers, assistants and a structured daily schedule and activities.

Daycare Pros

  • Highly trained personnel
  • Full staff
  • Opportunity for social interaction and independence
  • Structured environment
  • Opportunity for field trips, parties and developmental activities
  • Easier to regulate and monitor
  • State-licensed

Daycare Cons

  • Can't bring baby in if he's sick
  • Less individual attention
  • Centers may close for holidays and inclement weather
  • Center hours may not fit your schedule
  • Center may charge late fees
  • Popular centers have waiting lists
  • Increased exposure to illnesses

Daycare Need-to-Knows

  • Choose a center that is nationally accredited. Visit www.naeyc.org for more information
  • Tour the facility with the director, and ask lots of questions
  • Find out their philosophy on childcare
  • Ask for references from some of the parents whose children go there
  • Find out about hours, holidays, late fees and sickness policies
  • Ask to set up trial visits for your child for an hour or two each day in the week leading up to his enrollment to get him adjusted
  • Listen to teacher interactions

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Nanny


Definition

A caregiver who takes care of your baby in your own home.

Nanny Pros

  • Your baby is in a familiar surrounding
  • Works around your schedule
  • May be more one-on-one attention
  • Baby will be less exposed to other children's illnesses
  • If your child gets sick, your nanny will care for him

Nanny Cons

  • May be expensive
  • You'll need a backup in case the nanny gets sick or goes on vacation
  • Nannies are not required to be licensed, or have formal childcare education
  • No one else around to make observations

Nanny Need-to-Knows

  • Go with your gut during the interview process
  • Find out her ideas about discipline, personal hygiene and safety, as well as her personal beliefs; write down your questions before the interview
  • Look for someone whose philosophies match or complement your own
  • Have him/her play with your child to see how they get along and interact; see if he/she joins in the play or merely observes
  • Ask if he/she is CPR and First Aid certified
  • Get references, and check them
  • Background check
  • Find out if he/she drives and if so, check out his/her driving record
  • Set parameters for visitors, phone calls, and outings
  • Agree to a daily or hourly rate plus overtime and nail down your vacation policy
  • Make it clear if you expect them to do light housework or grocery shopping as well
  • Leave a list of all emergency contacts, including 911 and the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222), along with your pediatrician's name and number, and the number of a close neighbor in case of emergency; plus your cell number, of course
  • Be sure your nanny has your home address and telephone number in case she needs to call 911
  • Write down your baby's name, age, known medical conditions and allergies, plus info on medications he may be taking
  • Point out your First Aid kit and fire extinguishers in the house
  • Have the nanny spend some time with your baby before you go back to work

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Au Pair


Definition

A young person, generally from a foreign country, who provides infant childcare in exchange for room and board and usually a small stipend. Au pair selection works through an au pair agency. There are also fees involved with selecting an au pair.

Au Pair Pros

  • One-on-one attention
  • Familiar environment for baby
  • Baby will be less exposed to other children's illnesses than at day care
  • If your child gets sick, your au pair will care for him
  • Cultural enrichment for the whole family
  • Family-like atmosphere
  • Candidates are pre-screened by the agency

Au Pair Cons

  • Au pairs only stay for a pre-selected amount of time, usually one year
  • They generally work no more than 25 hours/week
  • Not right if you're uncomfortable with live-in help

Au Pair Need-to-Knows

  • Learn about au pair agencies and their program options
  • Some au pairs have childcare education, some don't; ask for what you want
  • Go with your gut during the interview process
  • Find out each au pair's ideas about discipline, personal hygiene and safety, as well as her personal beliefs; write down your questions before the interview
  • Look for someone whose philosophies match or complement your own
  • Have him/her play with your child to see how they get along and interact; see if he/she joins in the play or merely observes
  • Ask if he/she is CPR and First Aid certified
  • Get references, and check them
  • Background check
  • Find out if he/she drives and if so, check out his/her driving record
  • Set parameters for visitors, phone calls, and outings
  • Make sure you clearly understand the agency's policies on hours, vacations and sick time
  • Make it clear if you expect them to do light housework or grocery shopping as well
  • Leave a list of all emergency contacts, including 911 and the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222), along with your pediatrician's name and number and the number of a close neighbor in case of emergency; plus your cell number, of course
  • Be sure your au pair has your home address and telephone number in case she needs to call 911
  • Write down your baby's name, age, known medical conditions and allergies, plus info on medications he may be taking
  • Point out your First Aid kit and fire extinguishers in the house.
  • Have the au pair spend some time with your baby before you go back to work

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Family Childcare


Definition

A caregiver who watches a number of children in her own home.

Family Childcare Pros

  • Can be a loving, home-like environment
  • Offers social interaction
  • Usually less expensive than day care or in-home care

Family Childcare Cons

  • Is probably not accredited
  • Most likely doesn't adhere to set rules about teacher-to-child ratios
  • Quality of care can vary

Family Childcare Need-to-Knows

  • How do the caregivers interact with your child?
  • Make sure they are registered with the state
  • Get references, and check them
  • Background check
  • Tour the home, and ask for references from other parents
  • Find out if he/she drives and if so, check out his/her driving record
  • Does she take the children in her own car?
  • Ask about ratios, daily activities, if they keep daily sheets of your child's activities and when they get outside playtime
  • Ask about their philosophies on development, discipline and hygiene
  • Find out about their sickness policy and inclement weather policy, as well as holidays, vacations, hours and late fees
  • Are there other people in the home during the day?
  • What happens when the caregiver is sick?
  • Leave a list of all emergency contacts, including 911 and the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222), along with your pediatrician's name and number and the number of a close neighbor in case of emergency; plus your cell number, of course.
  • Be sure your caregiver has your home address and telephone numbers in case she needs to call 911
  • Write down your baby's name, age, known medical conditions and allergies, plus info on medications he may be taking
  • Make sure they know what to do if the baby is choking or stops breathing

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Family Member


Definition

A grandparent, relative or friend watches your child in your home or theirs.

Family Member Pros

  • You and our baby know them
  • Inexpensive
  • Convenient

Family Member Cons

  • You may not be able to ask things of a family member that you could of a paid caregiver
  • Payment (or not) may be a sticky situation

Family Member Need-to-Knows

  • Make your opinions clear on daily activities, schedules, development strategies and discipline style
  • Ask them to record their daily activities, feedings, bowel movements and major developments
  • Have a contract so there are no surprise expectations
  • Leave a list of all emergency contacts, including 911 and the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222), along with your pediatrician's name and number and the number of a close neighbor in case of emergency; plus your cell number, of course.
  • Be sure your family member has your home address and telephone number in case she needs to call 911
  • Write down your baby's name, age, known medical conditions and allergies, plus info on medications he may be taking
  • Make sure your family member knows what to do if the baby is choking or stops breathing

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Babysitter


Definition

Someone who provides infant childcare occasionally while you run an errand or go out to a movie. Babysitters are usually high-school or college students, and are generally not trained beyond taking a babysitting course or having younger siblings.

Babysitter Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Willing to work for an hour or two at a time

Babysitter Cons

  • Often not that experienced in dealing with infants
  • Babysitters don't need to pass any tests or register with an agency

Babysitter Need-to-Knows

  • Ask friends for recommendations of sitters, or look around town or near a college for signs
  • Interview the person thoroughly
  • Ask for references
  • Check their driver's licenses
  • Set parameters for visitors, phone calls and outings
  • Ask if your sitter is CPR trained or has taken an American Red Cross Babysitter's Training Course
  • If not, pay for them to take it
  • Leave a list of all emergency contacts, including 911 and the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222), along with your pediatrician's name and number and the number of a close neighbor in case of emergency; plus your cell number, of course
  • Be sure your sitter has your home address and telephone number in case she needs to call 911
  • Write down your baby's name, age, known medical conditions and allergies, plus info on medications he may be taking
  • Point out your First Aid kit and fire extinguishers in the house
  • Make sure your sitter knows what to do if the baby is choking or stops breathing

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Additional Resources


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