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

» 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

» Return to Top


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

» Return to Top


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

» Return to Top


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

» Return to Top


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

» Return to Top


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

» Return to Top


Additional Resources


» Return to Top