Child care for my baby

Once we get over the excitement of knowing a baby is on the way, we have to come down to earth and start making preparations for baby’s arrival. Most of us will have a checklist of to do things such as shopping for baby’s essentials etc. I think that one of the most important aspects of preparation is deciding who is going to look after your newborn baby. What are your options?

Looking after your baby yourself

Some questions you and your husband may have to consider
• Can you make do with one income?
• Can you work part time or work from home?
Are you able to spend 24 hours a day with your baby?
• If this is your first baby, do you have any support with caring for your baby? This includes physical, emotional and psychological support as it is not always easy looking after a newborn baby.

If you answer yes to all the questions above than you will make a good stay at home mum. If you cannot answer yes to all the questions or after a few months of staying at home with your baby, you decide that you want to go back to work, than you will have to consider other child care options for your baby. The options for child care facilities are slightly different in Asian countries compared to Western societies

Sending baby to grandma

This may be ideal if grandma lives nearby. However many grandmas live in another town or state which means that you will only get to see your baby once a week at weekends or an even longer period if the distance is too far. I have seen many cases where the baby does not know his parents at age 1 year. If grandma is a bit elderly she may not know how to properly stimulate your baby and there is also the possibility that grandma will spoil your baby. I have children who come to my centre who do not know how to sit or crawl at the age of 10 months because their grandparents carry them all day long. They are very clinging and refuse to be left alone except when they are sleeping. If your parents are looking after your baby do make sure that you encourage them to allow your baby to learn normal developmental activities like rolling over, crawling and exploring their environment.

Having a care giver in your home

For many parents this arrangement is very appealing as your baby will be in familiar and comfortable surroundings. You do not have to spend time sending and collecting your baby from an outside caretaker. Your baby gets one on one care and would be exposed to fewer people and germs. Your care giver may do some light housework while your baby naps which would allow you to spend quality time with your baby when you come home. In the past, it was easy to get a local mature lady to live-in as amahs but nowadays it is getting more and more difficult to do this and it is quite expensive to employ local amahs or nannies. Nowadays, many parents in Malaysia and Singapore employ foreign maids to care for their baby. Having heard many horror stories about foreign maids I do not encourage leaving your baby alone with them as they may decide to run away leaving your baby at home alone, or worse, taking your baby with her. In addition, most foreign maids do not have any experience in looking after a newborn baby. Do remember that the first 2 years of your baby’s life is eventful as he will be more prone to fever associated with immunizations, teething etc. This is also a time when he is learning a lot and if the maid cannot provide the right stimulation your baby’s development will be slightly slower.

Day care in someone else’s home

Many first-time parents choose this type of care because they believe it’s important for their child to interact with other children as well as at least one adult during the day. Normally, this type of care is provided by housewives (baby sitter) who have had children of their own so they have experience with caring for small children. Some provide a one on one care but the majority will have at least another 3 to 4 children to care for. If you are lucky you may find a fantastic baby sitter who will provide your baby with the best physical and developmental care. I find the vast majority of these baby sitters provide quite good physical care but do not know how to provide adequate stimulation for the baby’s development. Most of the babies end up watching Chinese soap operas all the time. If you send your baby to this type of baby sitters please make sure that you also provide some developmental media for your baby such as educational toys, books with pictures and educational videos so that he learns through music and singing. Some parents will only take the baby home on weekends and I personally disagree with this arrangement as I feel very strongly that you must spend some quality time every night in your own home with your baby. This will help your baby to build trust in you and for you to know everything about your own baby.

A day care center

Choosing the proper day care center for your child should be a carefully thought out and researched process. It is important to choose a center that helps your child grow and develop his skills while also having fun. There are several advantages to having your child in a daycare center. Good centers have a mix of activities that will teach different skills. Activities that lead to creativity, storytelling, dancing and singing all help your baby learn instead of just playing all day. Children also get to socialize and interact with other children which they wouldn’t get to do if they were at home with a nanny.

A few disadvantages are that the children do not have the one-on-one attention they would get if they were at home with a parent or nanny. The children are also more likely to be exposed to more germs from all the other children. The upside of this is that the children start to build their immunity earlier. While centers are usually very structured and have clear rules for parents to follow such as those regarding picking up your child, a disadvantage is that you could incur fees for picking up your child late, having to find a place for your child on holidays, or finding someone to care for your child if he or she becomes sick from a highly contagious illness and is sent home by the center.

As an operator of a child day care centre I recommend that you MUST check out the centre before you send your baby there.

• Check out the centre when there are other children around. This will let you see how the children are looked after and whether they are happy, outgoing or shy and withdrawn and how they respond to the staff members.
• Take your baby to the centre because babies are very sensitive to their environment. If you enter and your baby starts crying then the place is not for your baby. Let your baby spend some time looking around and see how he reacts to the staff members and the environment.
• Check whether it is a safe clean facility. All the areas should be clean, well lit and ventilated. There should be policies on staff hygiene and cleanliness such as hand washing, cleanliness of feeding equipment and disposal of rubbish.
• Does the centre have an open door policy i.e. do they allow you to visit without calling up first? If they do not have this policy, they may be hiding something.
• What is the staff to baby ratio? Newborn babies require extra time compared to bigger children so the ideal ratio is 1 to 3.
• Does the centre have any daily programme to help your baby’s development?
• Any other personal questions of your own.

The most important thing to consider is the safety, wellness and happiness of your baby and the least stress to you the parents when making your choice.

Copyright (c) 2007 Cecilia Koh