Choosing Child Care

No bio available

Enlisting qualified, nurturing caregivers is one of the best things you can do for both yourself and your child. Here’s how to find someone you want to trust with your most prized possession. From Drs. Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet Oz, bestselling authors of YOU: Raising Your Child

We’ve all heard the expression “It takes a village.” Part of your job as a parent is to create that special community for your child. Your village will include you, a partner if you have one, as well as grandparents and other family members who will interact with your child regularly. It may also include a nanny, day care professionals, and an assortment of occasional babysitters or mother’s helpers. Enlisting qualified, nurturing caregivers is one of the best things you can do for both yourself and your child. For one thing, every parent needs a break now and again — either to revive the romance in your relationship that led you to become a parent in the first place, or simply to recharge your batteries so you can return to diaper duty relaxed and refreshed. For another, it’s vitally important for your child to interact with adults other than you in order to learn how to socialize and to separate, skills that she’ll need to successfully start school. Unfortunately, not all caregivers are created equal, and it’s important to choose carefully and to pay close attention to the signs your child gives you after spending time with each one to know whether or not this is someone you want to trust with your most prized possession.

Choosing a Nanny.
Many people hire a nanny either because they prefer the convenience and individual attention a nanny can provide or else because, with multiple children, it may end up being more economical than day care. The key thing to remember is that, whether the nanny lives in or out, or works part time or full time, she is someone you are inviting into your home and your family. It’s a very intimate relationship, but it must also remain professional.

The most important criterion for a nanny is that she share your ideas and values about child rearing. That is best determined not only in a personal interview but also while watching her interact with your child. Accordingly, we suggest hiring her for a trial day before you seal the deal. Of course, you’ll also check all references, and in conversations with her former employers listen for nuances carefully. What is her approach to discipline? Nutrition? Sleep? TV? Is she a homebody or does she like to spend time outdoors? Is she someone who will take the initiative to make playdates for your child, take her to the zoo, the park, or enrichment classes? How are her language skills? Is she comfortable reading to your child and playing number games? Does she talk or sing to her, or does she spend more time chatting with friends on her cell phone?

As wonderful as a nanny may be with your child, it’s also important that you find someone who meets your needs. If you work long hours, can she come early and leave late, or does she have family obligations of her own? How is her health? Is she energetic enough to care for a young child? Does she know CPR? If not, you should arrange for her to take a class. If you need her to travel, is she comfortable doing so? Will you require her to do additional household chores, such as shopping, cooking, cleaning, or laundry? Be up-front about your expectations, as well as about salary, vacation, and sick days. And don’t hesitate to run a background check, including of her driving record if she will be driving your child. Finally, when you do reach an agreement, include a trial period of a few weeks; it gives both of you the chance to opt out if it looks like the arrangement isn’t working.

By the way, surveillance cameras, or “nanny cams,” are legal in all fifty states, but in some states it is not legal to record voices, so check before you do. If your nanny finds out that she has been secretly recorded, it may damage the trust on which your relationship is based; a better alternative is to be up-front about your intention so she knows you’re just doing due diligence.

Choosing a Day Care Center.
Day care can be an excellent choice for many reasons: It can be more affordable than a nanny. It can be more reliable; you don’t have to find coverage when the nanny is out sick or on vacation. And it can be more socially enriching, even if it provides less one-on-one attention. Again, the most important thing is to find a day care center that reflects your philosophies and values in terms of the level of structure, the approach of the providers, and the policies on nutrition, sleep, discipline, and TV. While all day care facilities must be licensed (if it’s not, don’t even consider it), requirements vary from state to state. In addition, check to see if the facility you’re interested in has been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children or the National Early Childhood Accreditation Program, or if it has won any local award or recognition. Other key elements to discuss on the telephone with the director and confirm upon visiting include:

  • Child-to-staff ratio: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following: Age: Birth to 12 months
    Child-Staff Ratio:
    3:1
    Maximum Group Size:
    6

    Age: 13 to 30 months
    Child-Staff Ratio:
    4:1
    Maximum Group Size:
    8

    Age: 31 to 35 months
    Child-Staff Ratio:
    5:1
    Maximum Group Size:
    10

    Age: 3 years old
    Child-Staff Ratio:
    7:1
    Maximum Group Size:
    14

    Age: 4 to 5 years old
    Child-Staff Ratio:
    8:1
    Maximum Group Size:
    16

  • Staff qualifications: In addition to being cheerful and loving, the staff should have a minimum of two years of college, with training in early childhood education and knowledge of first aid, including CPR. Ask about ongoing faculty development opportunities as well as the average length of tenure or rate of staff turnover.
  • Safety and cleanliness: Is the facility light and airy? Are there safe indoor and outdoor play spaces? Are the walls, floors, kitchen area, and bathrooms clean? And while you’re looking, are there developmentally appropriate pictures on the walls, or is it all signs saying, “Don’t Do That,” or pictures with a big X on them? Do the decorations stimulate or stifle creativity? Are the toys clean and in good repair? Are there visible first aid kits, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors? Is there a childproof storage area for cleaning materials? Does the staff wash its hands after changing diapers and before preparing meals? How often do the children wash hands?
  • Clear policies: The center should have clear policies on everything from drop-off and pick-up procedures to fees, health, and vaccination requirements. If your child is sick, can you be reimbursed for missed days? And when is it okay for her to return to day care? Most important, the center should have an open-door policy for you to drop in unannounced to check on your child. Some facilities even have cameras set up so you can watch your child from your computer.
  • Scheduled activities: The best day care facilities have scheduled times for indoor and outdoor play, snack, meals, and naps or rest. Ideally, preschool-age children should have two hours a day of active play, including two visits a day to an outdoor play space, weather permitting. TV and video watching should not be on the schedule. Rather, there should be plenty of opportunities for creative play, including arts and crafts, music, story time, as well as games involving letters and numbers.

As with any child care arrangement, check references — in this case, current and former parents. Also, in addition to visiting the day care center yourself, visit a second time with your child and gauge her reaction to the staff and environment.

Home-Based or Family Child Care.
Some people prefer family child care to day care because it is less formal, includes fewer children, allows for different-aged siblings to be cared for together, and is in a home environment with a single caregiver. It is also less expensive. Most states require regulation of providers who care for more than four children, including background checks; ongoing training in early childhood development; minimum health, safety, and nutrition standards; and regular or random inspections. Nonetheless, you still have to do your homework, which includes checking references, inspecting the home to make sure it is smoke free and at least as safe and clean as your own, and confirming that there are age-appropriate toys and books and that children are not parked in front of the TV. If there are pets in the home, make sure they are well trained and that your child does not have an allergic reaction. Confirm that the children are never allowed outdoors unsupervised, especially if there is a swimming pool or hot tub. (Watching from the kitchen window doesn’t count.) And don’t be afraid to drop in for a random spot check to make sure everything is as it should be. Home-based child care providers may be accredited by the National Association for Family Child Care.

Babysitters and Mother’s Helpers.
Chances are, even if you are a fulltime mom, you’ll want to go out to a movie or run an errand sometime in the next five years and will have to hire a babysitter. Or you may find you want someone else to watch Junior for a couple of hours while you clean out your closets in peace. In these cases, babysitters and mother’s helpers are ideal. They’re not expensive, they don’t require a big commitment, and they usually have tons of energy and think it’s really fun to take care of kids. Mother’s helpers are traditionally preteens who provide an extra pair of hands while you’re still in the house. Babysitters are slightly older and more experienced, either from having been mother’s helpers themselves, having babysat other children, or having cared for younger siblings.

While there are certification classes for babysitters, an enthusiastic, intelligent, responsible teen doesn’t require certification (unless you want her to know CPR). You may have to teach her how to warm a bottle or change a diaper the first time around. Depending on your comfort level, you can allow her to bathe or cook a simple meal for your child or, if she is old enough, to drive Junior to an activity.

And on a very serious note: While there are wonderful male baby sitters out there, we do not recommend them. With boys, there’s a 1 in 6 chance that they’ve been sexually abused as children. With girls, there’s a 1 in 4 chance. But here’s the difference: Boys who are abused tend to take it out on another victim, while girls tend to be depressed and take it out on themselves. We’re not saying that males cannot be good caregivers, but if you’re playing the odds with people you don’t know (and perhaps even people you do), the evidence simply shows that your child is safer with female sitters.

The most important thing is to always leave your sitter with your cell phone number, numbers for a couple of neighbors and relatives, and the numbers for your pediatrician and for Poison Control. By the way, if you’re at a movie, put your cell phone on vibrate and instruct the sitter to call only in an emergency.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Michael F. Roizen, M.D., is a four-time New York Times number one bestselling author, and is cofounder and originator of the very popular RealAge.com website. He is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute of the Cleveland Clinic and chief medical consultant of The Doctor Oz Show. Mehmet Oz, M.D., is also a New York Times number one best-selling author and Emmy Award-winning host of The Dr. Oz Show. He is professor and vice chairman of surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and the director of the Heart Institute. They are the authors of YOU: Raising Your Child (Copyright © 2010 by Michael F. Roizen, M.D., and Oz Works, LLC).

MORE PARENTING ARTICLES BY THE AUTHORS

MORE ARTICLES BY THE AUTHORS

LEARN MORE


self_help_woman_567

How to Make Your Retirement Years Meaningful

Ron Pevny is the founder and director of the Center for Conscious Eldering. He received his masters degree in Integral Counseling and Psychotherapy from the California Institute of Integral Studies. He is a Certified Sage-ing Leader with Sage-ing International and is a member of their Coordinating Circle. He is also active in the Life Planning Network and is a contributor to Second Journey. He conducts workshops across the country, including at Earthrise and IONS Retreat Center.

Green-Smoothie_567

How The 17 Day Diet Transitional Day Fast Works

Dr. Mike Moreno is a graduate of the University of California at Irvine and Hahnemann Medical School. Following his residency at Kaiser Permanente in Fontana, California, Dr. Mike moved to San Diego, where he now practices family medicine and serves on the board of the San Diego Chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

More Stories >

Debugging information below
(This will not show up in Production)

Total Queries ran on page 50
Time Query
Time Query
0.0039241313934326 SELECT ID, post_name, post_parent, post_type FROM wp_posts WHERE post_name IN ('parenting','choosing-child-care') AND post_type IN ('page','attachment')
0.0013291835784912 SELECT wp_posts.* FROM wp_posts WHERE 1=1 AND wp_posts.post_name = 'choosing-child-care' AND wp_posts.post_type = 'post' ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC
0.00095701217651367 SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (842) ORDER BY meta_id ASC
0.00012397766113281 SELECT t.*, tt.* FROM wp_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_term_taxonomy AS tt ON t.term_id = tt.term_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('category') AND t.slug = 'parenting' ORDER BY t.name ASC
7.4148178100586E-5 SELECT term_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_termmeta WHERE term_id IN (5) ORDER BY meta_id ASC
0.001600980758667 SELECT tr.term_taxonomy_id FROM wp_term_relationships AS tr INNER JOIN wp_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tr.object_id IN (842) AND tt.taxonomy IN ('category') ORDER BY tr.term_taxonomy_id ASC
0.00059604644775391 SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 842 LIMIT 1
0.0033400058746338 SELECT t.*, tt.* FROM wp_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tt.term_id = t.term_id INNER JOIN wp_term_relationships AS tr ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('category') AND tr.object_id IN (842) ORDER BY t.name ASC
0.0040740966796875 SELECT t.*, tt.* FROM wp_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tt.term_id = t.term_id INNER JOIN wp_term_relationships AS tr ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('post_tag') AND tr.object_id IN (842) ORDER BY t.name ASC
0.0010988712310791 SELECT term_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_termmeta WHERE term_id IN (147,212,49,200,201,211,34,63,48) ORDER BY meta_id ASC
0.0012331008911133 SELECT t.*, tt.* FROM wp_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tt.term_id = t.term_id INNER JOIN wp_term_relationships AS tr ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('post_format') AND tr.object_id IN (842) ORDER BY t.name ASC
0.00012707710266113 SELECT tr.object_id FROM wp_term_relationships AS tr INNER JOIN wp_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('nav_menu') AND tt.term_id IN ('10280') ORDER BY tr.object_id ASC
0.00012016296386719 SELECT wp_posts.* FROM wp_posts WHERE 1=1 AND wp_posts.ID IN (15201,17412,17413,17414,17415,17416,17417,17418,17419,17420,17421,17422,17423,17424,17425) AND wp_posts.post_type = 'nav_menu_item' AND ((wp_posts.post_status = 'publish')) ORDER BY wp_posts.menu_order ASC
0.00014901161193848 SELECT wp_posts.* FROM wp_posts WHERE 1=1 AND wp_posts.ID IN (2) AND wp_posts.post_type = 'page' AND ((wp_posts.post_status = 'publish')) ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC
0.00094389915466309 SELECT t.term_id FROM wp_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tt.term_id = t.term_id INNER JOIN wp_term_relationships AS tr ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('category') AND tr.object_id IN (842) ORDER BY t.name ASC
0.00012898445129395 SELECT tr.object_id FROM wp_term_relationships AS tr INNER JOIN wp_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('nav_menu') AND tt.term_id IN ('10282') ORDER BY tr.object_id ASC
0.00010585784912109 SELECT wp_posts.* FROM wp_posts WHERE 1=1 AND wp_posts.ID IN (15204,15205,15206,15207,15208) AND wp_posts.post_type = 'nav_menu_item' AND ((wp_posts.post_status = 'publish')) ORDER BY wp_posts.menu_order ASC
0.00013589859008789 SELECT t.term_id FROM wp_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tt.term_id = t.term_id INNER JOIN wp_term_relationships AS tr ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('category') AND tr.object_id IN (842) ORDER BY t.name ASC
0.00010108947753906 SELECT tr.object_id FROM wp_term_relationships AS tr INNER JOIN wp_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('nav_menu') AND tt.term_id IN ('10282') ORDER BY tr.object_id ASC
0.00011086463928223 SELECT wp_posts.* FROM wp_posts WHERE 1=1 AND wp_posts.ID IN (15204,15205,15206,15207,15208) AND wp_posts.post_type = 'nav_menu_item' AND ((wp_posts.post_status = 'publish')) ORDER BY wp_posts.menu_order ASC
0.00023102760314941 SELECT t.term_id FROM wp_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tt.term_id = t.term_id INNER JOIN wp_term_relationships AS tr ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('category') AND tr.object_id IN (842) ORDER BY t.name ASC
0.00089406967163086 SELECT p.ID FROM wp_posts AS p WHERE p.post_date > '2010-10-05 07:00:25' AND p.post_type = 'post' AND p.post_status = 'publish' ORDER BY p.post_date ASC LIMIT 1
0.0014579296112061 SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 16121 LIMIT 1
0.0024809837341309 SELECT t.*, tt.* FROM wp_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tt.term_id = t.term_id INNER JOIN wp_term_relationships AS tr ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('category') AND tr.object_id IN (16121) ORDER BY t.name ASC
0.00010108947753906 SELECT term_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_termmeta WHERE term_id IN (10664,10913) ORDER BY meta_id ASC
0.0020859241485596 SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (2229) ORDER BY meta_id ASC
0.0098719596862793 SELECT SQL_CALC_FOUND_ROWS wp_posts.ID FROM wp_posts WHERE 1=1 AND ( wp_posts.post_date >= '2012-01-01 00:00:00' ) AND wp_posts.post_type = 'post' AND (wp_posts.post_status = 'publish') ORDER BY RAND() LIMIT 0, 4
0.00014114379882812 SELECT FOUND_ROWS()
0.0026748180389404 SELECT wp_posts.* FROM wp_posts WHERE ID IN (13849,4674,16639)
0.0062189102172852 SELECT t.*, tt.*, tr.object_id FROM wp_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tt.term_id = t.term_id INNER JOIN wp_term_relationships AS tr ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('category', 'post_tag', 'post_format') AND tr.object_id IN (4674, 13849, 16639) ORDER BY t.name ASC
0.002547025680542 SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (4674,13849,16639) ORDER BY meta_id ASC
0.00013899803161621 SELECT * FROM wp_users WHERE ID = '285'
0.00013303756713867 SELECT user_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_usermeta WHERE user_id IN (285) ORDER BY umeta_id ASC
0.00084304809570312 SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 13659 LIMIT 1
0.0022709369659424 SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (13659) ORDER BY meta_id ASC
0.01040506362915 SELECT `post_id` FROM `wp_postmeta` WHERE `meta_key` = 'bk_isbn' AND `meta_value` = '9781582704388';
0.00040197372436523 SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 13841 LIMIT 1
0.076013088226318 SELECT `ID` FROM wp_posts WHERE `post_title` = 'AirlineTravel_Kids_300'
0.001060962677002 SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 4675 LIMIT 1
0.0017600059509277 SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (4675) ORDER BY meta_id ASC
0.0044901371002197 SELECT * FROM wp_users WHERE ID = '240'
0.001945972442627 SELECT user_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_usermeta WHERE user_id IN (240) ORDER BY umeta_id ASC
0.0011498928070068 SELECT t.*, tt.* FROM wp_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tt.term_id = t.term_id INNER JOIN wp_term_relationships AS tr ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('post_format') AND tr.object_id IN (11507) ORDER BY t.name ASC
0.00051784515380859 SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 8657 LIMIT 1
0.0010178089141846 SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (8657) ORDER BY meta_id ASC
0.010339021682739 SELECT `post_id` FROM `wp_postmeta` WHERE `meta_key` = 'bk_isbn' AND `meta_value` = '9781476754154';
0.00062108039855957 SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 11509 LIMIT 1
0.00061702728271484 SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE ID = 17691 LIMIT 1
0.00084781646728516 SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (17691) ORDER BY meta_id ASC
0.013777017593384 SELECT `post_id` FROM `wp_postmeta` WHERE `meta_key` = 'bk_isbn' AND `meta_value` = '9781476756073';
WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 842
    [post_author] => 1
    [post_date] => 2010-10-05 07:00:25
    [post_date_gmt] => 2010-10-05 11:00:25
    [post_content] => Enlisting qualified, nurturing caregivers is one of the best things you can do for both yourself and your child. Here’s how to find someone you want to trust with your most prized possession. From Drs. Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet Oz, bestselling authors of YOU: Raising Your Child   

We’ve all heard the expression “It takes a village.” Part of your job as a parent is to create that special community for your child. Your village will include you, a partner if you have one, as well as grandparents and other family members who will interact with your child regularly. It may also include a nanny, day care professionals, and an assortment of occasional babysitters or mother’s helpers. Enlisting qualified, nurturing caregivers is one of the best things you can do for both yourself and your child. For one thing, every parent needs a break now and again -- either to revive the romance in your relationship that led you to become a parent in the first place, or simply to recharge your batteries so you can return to diaper duty relaxed and refreshed. For another, it’s vitally important for your child to interact with adults other than you in order to learn how to socialize and to separate, skills that she’ll need to successfully start school. Unfortunately, not all caregivers are created equal, and it’s important to choose carefully and to pay close attention to the signs your child gives you after spending time with each one to know whether or not this is someone you want to trust with your most prized possession.

Choosing a Nanny.
Many people hire a nanny either because they prefer the convenience and individual attention a nanny can provide or else because, with multiple children, it may end up being more economical than day care. The key thing to remember is that, whether the nanny lives in or out, or works part time or full time, she is someone you are inviting into your home and your family. It’s a very intimate relationship, but it must also remain professional.

The most important criterion for a nanny is that she share your ideas and values about child rearing. That is best determined not only in a personal interview but also while watching her interact with your child. Accordingly, we suggest hiring her for a trial day before you seal the deal. Of course, you’ll also check all references, and in conversations with her former employers listen for nuances carefully. What is her approach to discipline? Nutrition? Sleep? TV? Is she a homebody or does she like to spend time outdoors? Is she someone who will take the initiative to make playdates for your child, take her to the zoo, the park, or enrichment classes? How are her language skills? Is she comfortable reading to your child and playing number games? Does she talk or sing to her, or does she spend more time chatting with friends on her cell phone?

As wonderful as a nanny may be with your child, it’s also important that you find someone who meets your needs. If you work long hours, can she come early and leave late, or does she have family obligations of her own? How is her health? Is she energetic enough to care for a young child? Does she know CPR? If not, you should arrange for her to take a class. If you need her to travel, is she comfortable doing so? Will you require her to do additional household chores, such as shopping, cooking, cleaning, or laundry? Be up-front about your expectations, as well as about salary, vacation, and sick days. And don’t hesitate to run a background check, including of her driving record if she will be driving your child. Finally, when you do reach an agreement, include a trial period of a few weeks; it gives both of you the chance to opt out if it looks like the arrangement isn’t working.

By the way, surveillance cameras, or “nanny cams,” are legal in all fifty states, but in some states it is not legal to record voices, so check before you do. If your nanny finds out that she has been secretly recorded, it may damage the trust on which your relationship is based; a better alternative is to be up-front about your intention so she knows you’re just doing due diligence.

Choosing a Day Care Center.
Day care can be an excellent choice for many reasons: It can be more affordable than a nanny. It can be more reliable; you don’t have to find coverage when the nanny is out sick or on vacation. And it can be more socially enriching, even if it provides less one-on-one attention. Again, the most important thing is to find a day care center that reflects your philosophies and values in terms of the level of structure, the approach of the providers, and the policies on nutrition, sleep, discipline, and TV. While all day care facilities must be licensed (if it’s not, don’t even consider it), requirements vary from state to state. In addition, check to see if the facility you’re interested in has been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children or the National Early Childhood Accreditation Program, or if it has won any local award or recognition. Other key elements to discuss on the telephone with the director and confirm upon visiting include:
  • Child-to-staff ratio: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following: Age: Birth to 12 months Child-Staff Ratio: 3:1 Maximum Group Size: 6 Age: 13 to 30 months Child-Staff Ratio: 4:1 Maximum Group Size: 8 Age: 31 to 35 months Child-Staff Ratio: 5:1 Maximum Group Size: 10 Age: 3 years old Child-Staff Ratio: 7:1 Maximum Group Size: 14 Age: 4 to 5 years old Child-Staff Ratio: 8:1 Maximum Group Size: 16
  • Staff qualifications: In addition to being cheerful and loving, the staff should have a minimum of two years of college, with training in early childhood education and knowledge of first aid, including CPR. Ask about ongoing faculty development opportunities as well as the average length of tenure or rate of staff turnover.
  • Safety and cleanliness: Is the facility light and airy? Are there safe indoor and outdoor play spaces? Are the walls, floors, kitchen area, and bathrooms clean? And while you’re looking, are there developmentally appropriate pictures on the walls, or is it all signs saying, “Don’t Do That,” or pictures with a big X on them? Do the decorations stimulate or stifle creativity? Are the toys clean and in good repair? Are there visible first aid kits, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors? Is there a childproof storage area for cleaning materials? Does the staff wash its hands after changing diapers and before preparing meals? How often do the children wash hands?
  • Clear policies: The center should have clear policies on everything from drop-off and pick-up procedures to fees, health, and vaccination requirements. If your child is sick, can you be reimbursed for missed days? And when is it okay for her to return to day care? Most important, the center should have an open-door policy for you to drop in unannounced to check on your child. Some facilities even have cameras set up so you can watch your child from your computer.
  • Scheduled activities: The best day care facilities have scheduled times for indoor and outdoor play, snack, meals, and naps or rest. Ideally, preschool-age children should have two hours a day of active play, including two visits a day to an outdoor play space, weather permitting. TV and video watching should not be on the schedule. Rather, there should be plenty of opportunities for creative play, including arts and crafts, music, story time, as well as games involving letters and numbers.
As with any child care arrangement, check references -- in this case, current and former parents. Also, in addition to visiting the day care center yourself, visit a second time with your child and gauge her reaction to the staff and environment. Home-Based or Family Child Care. Some people prefer family child care to day care because it is less formal, includes fewer children, allows for different-aged siblings to be cared for together, and is in a home environment with a single caregiver. It is also less expensive. Most states require regulation of providers who care for more than four children, including background checks; ongoing training in early childhood development; minimum health, safety, and nutrition standards; and regular or random inspections. Nonetheless, you still have to do your homework, which includes checking references, inspecting the home to make sure it is smoke free and at least as safe and clean as your own, and confirming that there are age-appropriate toys and books and that children are not parked in front of the TV. If there are pets in the home, make sure they are well trained and that your child does not have an allergic reaction. Confirm that the children are never allowed outdoors unsupervised, especially if there is a swimming pool or hot tub. (Watching from the kitchen window doesn’t count.) And don’t be afraid to drop in for a random spot check to make sure everything is as it should be. Home-based child care providers may be accredited by the National Association for Family Child Care. Babysitters and Mother’s Helpers. Chances are, even if you are a fulltime mom, you’ll want to go out to a movie or run an errand sometime in the next five years and will have to hire a babysitter. Or you may find you want someone else to watch Junior for a couple of hours while you clean out your closets in peace. In these cases, babysitters and mother’s helpers are ideal. They’re not expensive, they don’t require a big commitment, and they usually have tons of energy and think it’s really fun to take care of kids. Mother’s helpers are traditionally preteens who provide an extra pair of hands while you’re still in the house. Babysitters are slightly older and more experienced, either from having been mother’s helpers themselves, having babysat other children, or having cared for younger siblings. While there are certification classes for babysitters, an enthusiastic, intelligent, responsible teen doesn’t require certification (unless you want her to know CPR). You may have to teach her how to warm a bottle or change a diaper the first time around. Depending on your comfort level, you can allow her to bathe or cook a simple meal for your child or, if she is old enough, to drive Junior to an activity. And on a very serious note: While there are wonderful male baby sitters out there, we do not recommend them. With boys, there’s a 1 in 6 chance that they’ve been sexually abused as children. With girls, there’s a 1 in 4 chance. But here’s the difference: Boys who are abused tend to take it out on another victim, while girls tend to be depressed and take it out on themselves. We’re not saying that males cannot be good caregivers, but if you’re playing the odds with people you don’t know (and perhaps even people you do), the evidence simply shows that your child is safer with female sitters. The most important thing is to always leave your sitter with your cell phone number, numbers for a couple of neighbors and relatives, and the numbers for your pediatrician and for Poison Control. By the way, if you’re at a movie, put your cell phone on vibrate and instruct the sitter to call only in an emergency. ABOUT THE AUTHORS Michael F. Roizen, M.D., is a four-time New York Times number one bestselling author, and is cofounder and originator of the very popular RealAge.com website. He is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute of the Cleveland Clinic and chief medical consultant of The Doctor Oz Show. Mehmet Oz, M.D., is also a New York Times number one best-selling author and Emmy Award-winning host of The Dr. Oz Show. He is professor and vice chairman of surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and the director of the Heart Institute. They are the authors of YOU: Raising Your Child (Copyright © 2010 by Michael F. Roizen, M.D., and Oz Works, LLC). MORE PARENTING ARTICLES BY THE AUTHORS MORE ARTICLES BY THE AUTHORS LEARN MORE [post_title] => Choosing Child Care [post_excerpt] => Enlisting qualified, nurturing caregivers is one of the best things you can do for both yourself and your child. Here’s how to find someone you want to trust with your most prized possession. From Drs. Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet Oz, bestselling authors of YOU: Raising Your Child [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => choosing-child-care [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2010-10-19 11:00:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2010-10-19 15:00:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tipsonlifeandlove.com/parenting/choosing-child-care [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )