What To Look for When Considering Child Care - 12 Tips from a Pediatric Chiropractor

Toddlers playing together in a daycare setting

In a recent podcast, we had a great conversation with a perinatal and pediatric chiropractor, Dr. Lizzie Sobel, who runs her practice “Wholesome Healing” in Boston, Massachusetts where she supports the health and well-being of parents as well as their children. She also happens to be a Nessle Expert

Childcare is a question most working parents are faced with after the birth of a child. It can be very overwhelming to even know where to begin when it comes to finding quality care that is affordable. 

The takeaways from our conversation with Dr. Sobel will help anyone thinking about childcare – whether now or in the future. But before we share her advice, let’s go over some of the types of child care that are available. It’s important to bear in mind that there is no ‘right or wrong’ choice when it comes to childcare since each family has its own unique set of circumstances, needs, and priorities.

Types of Child Care Options

Here are a few examples of the types of child care that are available to families.

Nanny - A nanny can be a great option for families with a newborn child or toddler. Some advantages include not having to transport your infant outside the home, allowing them to remain in the familiar surroundings of their home, and maintaining their feeding and bathing routine. A live-in nanny can also help with certain household tasks such as light meal preparation, laundry, and light cleaning.

Nanny-share - Some families don’t need a full-time nanny so they make an arrangement to share the cost of a nanny. In this way, both families have all the benefits of a nanny, as listed above, but sharing the cost makes it more affordable. This can also provide socializing opportunities for the children who share the nanny. 

Daycare Centers - Quality, licensed daycare centers provide care, and education, and often provide toilet training for infants and toddlers. These centers provide opportunities for socialization, learning, and both indoor and outdoor play for children, which is an important part of their development. 

In-home Daycare - In-home daycares are licensed childcare providers who provide care in their homes. This is a good option for parents who prefer more personalized care in a home setting, but with the socialization and learning opportunities offered by daycare centers. 

Grandparent feeding grandchild with bottle

Family Member Caregiver - Some parents have their parents, aunts or uncles, or siblings available to care for their children. If expectations are made clear and values are aligned, this can be a win-win solution for everyone. 

Babysitters - Babysitters are a great option for stay-at-home or work-at-home parents who aren’t in need of full-time child care but just need help occasionally or at specific times. Having one or two sitters that you establish a long-term relationship with is mutually beneficial. 

Points to Consider When Looking Into Childcare

Here are some important topics to cover and points to consider when looking into care for your child:

  1. Cost of Care - Cost is typically one of the most important factors when considering childcare, so this is important to find out. In addition to understanding what the fees include, it’s important to ask if and how often there is a rate increase. so there aren’t any unexpected surprises. 
  1. Staff Training and Qualifications - To have peace of mind about the care of your child and ensure that you are receiving the best value for your money, make sure to ask about your caregiver(s) education, training, and experience and if background checks are conducted for all staff - including cleaning and maintenance staff.
  1. Location and Hours- If you are considering care outside your home, knowing how far the location is from home and work – especially during rush hour times – is important. It’s also important to make sure their business hours suit your schedule and needs.
  1. Teacher-Student Ratio - Check the teacher-student ratio. For toddlers, this number should ideally be between 6-8 children per teacher. For older children, the number can be higher, if there is a co-teacher or teaching assistant. 
  1. Age Groups - Some preschools or daycares group children according to age, since children in the same age range have similar developmental needs. Others have mixed age groups so that older children can guide and serve as role models for the younger ones. It’s helpful to find out how children are grouped and why. 
  1. Meals and Snacks - For daycare centers or in-home daycares, find out what meals and snacks are included, how much focus is on, healthy nutrition and if dietary restrictions are accommodated. 
  1. Changes and Transitions - For any changes that occur during the day, month, or year, such as staff or schedule changes, changing rooms or facilities, or transitioning children to older classrooms, it’s a good idea to find out how these changes are handled.
  1. Sick Policy: Daycares, in-home daycares, and preschools have sick policies in place to prevent the spread of illness. It’s important to know these policies and have backup care available when your child has a cold, flu, or other contagious symptoms. 
  1. Boundaries and Discipline: It’s vital to ask about discipline and make sure it aligns with your parenting values. Questions such as: How are tantrums and meltdowns handled? How is student-student conflict handled? How is defiance handled? How is caring, constructive and helpful behavior encouraged? Asking for concrete examples is essential!
  1. Toilet Training: If you plan to arrange for care of your child before he or she is potty-trained, it’s a good idea to find out if toilet learning is part of the child care program. If so, ask what follow-up is required at home. 
  1. Parent Communication: To be able to focus on work and know their child is in safe and caring hands, parents need to know how their child is doing on a frequent basis. Find out how often communications such as email updates are sent. Other questions you could ask: How are parents kept in the loop about their child’s activities and developmental milestones? How often are pictures shared? 
  1. Intuition: Last but not least - when considering care for your child, don’t underestimate the power of intuition! What does your gut tell you when you consider a caregiver or place? Also important: How does your child respond to the caregiver or environment? 

You could use a scoring system for each point - for example, how happy you are on a scale of 1 to 10 -  so that you can then compare the scores you gave for each option.

Dr. Sobel made another important point that all parents should remember: Nothing is set in stone! If you don’t feel comfortable with your decision or if things aren’t going as expected, it’s always possible to change your mind! Your child’s well-being and your peace of mind are what is most important. We hope these tips will be helpful as you consider child care that works best for your family and situation. Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Learn more about Dr. Lizzie Sobel and her practice. 
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