Choosing Childcare

There are several child-care options available to you, depending on your preferences, your budget, and your schedule. These are some ideas and guidelines to follow when pursuing your child-care needs.

In the Home

1. Nannies are hired specifically to care for children. They typically do not do work around the home that does not relate to the children. Nannies are
available on a full-time or part-time basis, and can live with you or come to your house each day. Some nannies have extensive practical experience, while others may have been professionally trained.

2. Housekeeper/caregivers are also available full or part-time, and can live in or out of the home. They provide the advantage of taking care of the home and the children simultaneously. However, if children are younger, and demand much more attention and care than older children, a housekeeper may not be able effectively to maintain both responsibilities.

3. Au pairs are usually young, live-in women and men who do light housekeeping chores and care for children in exchange for room and board. Often college and university students are interested in this type of work, but if they are foreigners, make sure they have proper visas and work permits.

4. Shared care is an option some parents pursue. In this setting, several families hire a caregiver who rotates between the families’ homes. This alternative provides a personalized care program, which parents are able to design themselves at a lower cost.

Outside the Home

1. Child-care centers are the most common child-care alternative outside the home. Not all centers will provide the services which you consider important. Some centers offer excellent, personalized services, and others do not. Care must be taken in selecting a center for your child. Some things to check for include staff qualifications, safety of the facility, activities, proper licensing, and caregiver-to-child ratio.

2. Family-care homes are another option. Many parents prefer family care homes over day-care centers for very young children because of the continuity provided by a single caregiver. Family-care homes tend to have less structured programs than child-care centers. Some things to check for include safety of the environment proper liscensing, and the number and ages of other children in the home.

Interviewing Care Providers

Be sure to include the following questions when interviewing a care provide:.
~ What experience have you had in providing care? Look for a variety in family makeup and ages, and the length of experience.
~ What do you do if a baby cries? Look at the problem-solving process of the person. Does the person mention things like trying several things to solve the problem or checking everything a second time?
~ How would you discipline a child? Look for their basic philosophy. Do they believe in physical punishment, or providing positive reinforcement? Is their approach to discipline the same as yours?
~ Ask about feeding schedules and meals. Are they organized and conscientious? Are you satisfied with the food choices?


  1. Moira Blythe says

    We’re looking for a child-care center for our little one while I go back to work. I appreciate your advice to look at the caregiver-to-child ratio. This is something I hadn’t thought of before, but it’s great advice!

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