When maternity leave is over, heading back into the work world can be tough on a new parent . One thing that makes it easier is knowing that you have reliable and trusted childcare lined up for your infant. With so many different types of infant care available, it’s important to do your research and find the option that’s best for your family.
Group Day Care
For some parents, choosing a day-care center is the best option due to its location, open hours and cost. “We chose a day–care center that has been around for a long time and was more affordable than our other options,” says Cincinnati mom Anne Threm. Finding a space with availability for an infant can be quite difficult, so start the search early.
With a group day care, you aren’t at the mercy of one person’s vacation schedule or sick day as with an in-home day care. Other perks of a center are that kids get to socialize with others their age, though they may get sick more often than if they were at their own home or a relative’s. Most centers won’t care for child who is ill, and parents must adhere to the center’s drop-off/pick-up schedule, no matter how rigid.
In-home Day Care
With a reputation for nurturing atmospheres, in-home day cares can be the right option for families who appreciate the socialization their kids get with a small group of children, with convenience, price and location often factoring into the decision. An infant may be paired with kids of different ages attending the same caretaker. A newborn could have slightly less exposure to illness than with a day–care center, with fewer children overall. One consideration is that an in-home provider may need to call in sick if they are ill or their own family has an emergency, or they may close the center during vacations, so having a backup option is key.
Perhaps the most convenient infant childcare option is to have a nanny come and care for the child in your own home. With plenty of personalized attention, children are in their familiar surroundings and parents don’t have to worry about drop-off or pick-up. But this convenience comes with a cost — perhaps the heftiest of all childcare options. With a few children at home, though, it may make financial sense. Some friends may go in together and share a nanny for multiple kids. And if the nanny gets sick or decides to move on from the role, a family could find themselves suddenly without a backup plan.
For those who have relatives in town, an inexpensive childcare option is to ask a grandparent or other family member to watch your children in your home or theirs. This option can help you shave time off your commute, and give your relative a chance to invest in your child, who they have a vested interest in. For families who enter this arrangement, communication is key to avoid sticky situations or hurt feelings if the arrangement doesn’t work out. This could be full-time or part-time and with or without pay.
How to Find Childcare
Ask other parents for infant childcare recommendations, and you’ll be surprised at how eager they are to share their experiences — good and bad. Hit up other parents at the playground, talk to your child’s doctor, or survey your online contacts. A nanny agency can help you find an infant caregiver who is qualified and has already had a background check.
If you do search online, get names of day cares that are licensed in your state at childcaresearch.ohio.gov.
When to Start Looking
It’s never too early to get on the waiting list for a good group day-care center. Those that accept infants are in high demand, so start looking when you’re in your second trimester — especially if you live in a big city like Cincinnati. To hire a nanny or find a spot at a good in-home day care, you’ll want to start looking at least two months before you plan to return to work. And if you are going with a relative, ask them to watch your baby while you are still on maternity leave, to help you work out any kinks in the new arrangement.