If you will eventually need child care for your child, it’s a good idea to start thinking about your options during your maternity leave. Finding the right caregiver for your child takes time and patience. While you look into the options, keep in mind your parenting style, your child’s personality and developmental level, and what you consider most important for child care. Ask friends, relatives and women in support groups for new and breastfeeding mothers about their experiences with finding child care. You can also find information about child care in your community, at college and university employment offices, nursing schools, churches, the YWCA, community centres, and agencies that specialize in finding child care. Books and the Internet can be helpful tools as well. You can even place an ad in your local newspaper or in the school or church bulletin. Looking at all of the options for child care will help you to secure a child care arrangement that you and your child can be comfortable with.
In your home
1. Live-in caregiver
Most child care experts agree that in the early months, the best option is leaving your baby at home with a caregiver. You only have to get yourself ready to leave in the morning, while your baby stays in the comfort of her own home, where she is less likely to be exposed to the common infectionsyou can’t avoid in a public daycare. A live-in caregiver may also be able help out by doing some housekeeping, such as laundry, light cleaning and preparing basic meals. Your live-in caregiver may also offer more flexibility with time, so you will not panic if you have to stay at work a little later or if you miss a train home. You will lose some family privacy when you have a live-in caregiver. It’s ideal if you have private living quarters for the caregiver, including a television and separate bathroom. The cost of employing a live-in caregiver is similar to the cost of a daycare centre. A live-in caregiver is even more costeffective if you decide to add another little one to your family. If you would consider a nanny from another country, contact the federal government department, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, to find out about immigration laws that apply to foreign workers.
2. Outside caregiver
Having a caregiver come to your home each morning and leave when you get home from work has the same advantages of a live-in caregiver – without the loss of privacy. There will be less flexibility, however, and this option costs more money (especially if the caregiver is a trained nanny and/or is sponsored from abroad).
If relationships in your extended family are healthy and strong, leaving your child with a grandmother or other close relative is an excellent arrangement. You have trust in your relative, and they have a personal interest in your child’s life. Also, you can mark your child’s developmental milestones as a family. Close family members are more likely to stay in your child’s life, which means your child can form lasting emotional bonds with them.
Outside the Home
1. Co-operative daycare
Many mothers make co-operative daycare arrangements, especially if they do not work full-time or if they are not away from home for long periods. They schedule days or hours when one person takes care of the other’s baby. This may also be the case with a daycare co-operative, in which mothers spend a certain amount of time as caregivers, in exchange for child care for their own children. This can be a less costly alternative to hiring a babysitter. It’s also a great way to connect with other new mothers.
2. Private family daycare
If you can’t arrange child care at your own home, a private family daycare may work for you. In this arrangement, a caregiver provides child care in their home. This is a relatively economical alternative, and provides some flexibility. There are usually no more than two children being cared for (the limit for private home daycare in most provinces), so your baby receives more individual attention. Remember that these caregivers are not licensed, however, so you need to be especially careful when you interview them to make suer they know how to care properly for babies and children. Look at the care setting carefully to make sure it is safe and clean, and provides an appropriate sleeping area. Trust your instincts.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to begin looking for child care.
- Don’t settle for an option you’re uncomfortable with.
- Do realize you can change your child care arrangements if you are not satisfied.
- Do consider all of the options.
- Do trust your intuition when you hire someone. Check references.
- Do know there are many good caregivers who can care for your child properly.