While some working parents are fortunate enough to have the grandparents care for their newborn, others struggle with finding a suitable child care centre or care giver. What are some of the considerations when deciding the child care arrangements for your newborn? Let’s run through the checklist:
1. Is the child care option conveniently located?
You will need to drop off your child and pick him or her up after work, so the ideal child care option is one that is conveniently located, and which minimises the commuting time for you.
2. Is the child care option flexible?
If your working hours tend to be more flexible, getting a caregiver to take care of your child may be better. A caregiver may stay slightly longer or start slightly earlier to accommodate changes in your work schedule.
That said, some child care centres now offer child care services on a full, half-day, or flexible hours basis to meet the needs of parents who are working part-time, shifts, or flexi-time.
3. Does the child care option provide a good environment for your child?
A good child care centre or child giver’s place should be neat, well-lit comfortable and safe for children. The atmosphere should be relaxed and conducive to free activity and healthy development for the child.
4. Is the child care option one which has a lot of experience?
Experience matters when it comes to caring for children, especially when it comes to dealing with emergencies such as injuries or sickness. Experience also counts when you need to instill discipline in a child – an important aspect of child care.
5. Does your child comfortable with the child care option?
More important than anything else, your child needs to be comfortable with the care giver you choose or the child care centre you selected for him or her.
Bring your child to meet the care giver or take him or her to the child care centre. That way, your child gets to know and interact with the people who may potentially take care of him or her.
It is normal for children to cry when they are in a new child care environment. Once they realise that the stay at the centre or at the care giver’s place is only temporary, and they will be reunited with you at the end of the day, they will feel more comfortable with the care giver or with attending the child care centre.
Here are some things you need to be mindful of when considering the use of child care facilities:
• Choosing a child care centre:
Shortlist a few child care centres that are most convenient for you by visiting Child Care Link website at www.childcarelink.gov.sg; or call the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports’ Family Service Information Line at 1800-2585812.
Then, contact the child care centre and ask about the centre’s arrangement in cases of emergency and when your child falls ill.
If the centre meets your requirements, arrange to take your child along to visit the centre and observe how the staff and children interact.
Are the children happy and do they turn to the staff for help and comfort? Do the staff respond to what a child has to say?
The atmosphere at the centre should be relaxed and conducive to free activity and healthy development for the child.
Check the licence of the centre. A 24-month licence indicates a centre with a high standard of care and a 12-month licence is for meeting the minimum standard.
• Preparing your child for the child care experience
Before admission, prepare your child by explaining how the experience at the child care centre will be an enjoyable one for him or her. Emphasise that it will be fun place to meet other children, make new friends, play with new toys and have a teacher who would help look after him or her during the day.
It is advisable to accompany your child to the child care centre for the first few days, but no more than a week. Once your child begins to interact with other children, you should leave and allow him or her to settle down in the centre.
• Dealing with anxiety over child care
It is normal for children to cry when they are in a new child care environment. Once he or she realises that the stay at the centre is only for the day, and he or she will be reunited with you at the end of the day, they will feel more comfortable attending the child care centre.
However, if your child fears being left alone in the centre, even after you have repeatedly reassured him or her about the child care centre experience, you should talk to the teacher and discuss ways to help your child overcome his or her fears.
If you still feel uncomfortable, you may need to reconsider the child care arrangement. As far as possible, avoid changing child care arrangements too frequently as this will be unsettling for your child. Remember each child is different and some may take a longer time to adjust to the new environment.
As a general rule, allow about two weeks for your child to adjust to the centre.