Solutions For Parents

Infants » Child Care

Day Cares

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Dear Dr. Susan:

Can you send me some advantages and disadvantages of putting your child into different types of care.


Dear Marcia:

Childminder: The child’s temperament and personality are to be considered in choosing a person to mind your child. If you have infants you want minders who are trained (by you) to do child care the way you want it done, and to adhere to strict safety and health standards set for your household. A childminder is generally a “fill in” type of caregiving job. Some parents use childminders for respite care, and this again is a choice of matching the personality of the child to the personality and skill level of the caregiver. Other parents use family members for minding children, and I advise parents to not take for granted the notion that relatives will rear your child even temporarily in the same way you do. Training is essential. Get everyone together, talk over child guidance strategies and agree how all basic situations will be handled. Child minders need to provide only gentle, supportive, cooperative child care. Parents need to avoid using anyone who is harsh, adversarial, oppositional or threatening in their words and actions.

Babysitter  - It is best to think of a babysitter as a caring, entertaining, and lively person of any age who can make children feel good, have a pleasant experience, who will follow your orders and instructions to the letter. If family members or high school age children are used as babysitters, there must be training in CPR, basic first aid, feeding and eating and bedtime procedures with children. Family rules must be clearly made known in terms of games, use of TV, videos and computers. At the time they leave their children in the care of babysitter, babysitter is the adult who knows the schedule, all the family rules and is in charge. Communication at short intervals with babysitters should be a common practice, and is made easier today, due to the increased use of cell phones.

Day Nurseries – are old fashioned places in name only, because there are many good home day care and group settings that are acceptable for leaving small children for  few hours. These environments should be play oriented, not academic or even developmental, but simply a pleasant place to play under the close supervision of caring and nurturing adults.

Very young children should not be disciplined by such staff and are not usually trained to know enough child development to have a curriculum they follow or a program that is based on child development knowledge of how children learn to think, speak, write and read, among other things. It is a more casual and socially supportive environment. References from other parents is the way to find out if the one in your neighborhood meets these criteria.

Nannies – are formally trained, usually long-term professionals who care for a child in the total sense of being an extension of the parents, and all that that entails. The emotional commitment to the child, the depth of understanding of the family and child, even the recognition that the nanny will be or become as important to the child as the parent, has vast implications for healthy development. Dependency, attachment, complete control and other concerns often make this option very expensive and very risky for parents. A nanny is far more than a substitute caregiver. They generally live, eat, work, play and take charge of house, as well as of children. This responsibility of raising someone else’s child is of such  enormity that it requires a level of commitment that spans twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, twelve months a year. Even when a nanny has time off, the responsibility should still be considered as real as if he or she was the parent. Often parents are reluctant to accept this fact of total involvement, and only with total mutual respect and complete confidence in the person, should this option become a reality.

Creches are an option about which very few people know enough to evaluate it as a realistic option. My experience is that there is too much secular attachment to one philosophy or a particular way of rearing children to be accepted by most parents. It feels too clique-like for my belief that best practices in caring for children should be universally based on general principles of what is best for each child as a uniquely developing person. Children should not be indoctrinated at a young age. Children naturally adopt the values and beliefs of their parents and should explore merging world under the close supervision of a belief system in which the child is loved for himself, and not for a secular view of how children should behave. Children are not miniature adults, but really thinking and feeling people since they come out of the womb, and feeling people even before they emerge into the world.

Playgrounds/Pre-school groups – are commonly used today as preschool experiences, and are deemed to be appropriate by most families, except those who prefer to keep their children at home and have the time to give their children early experiences that involve other children and adults. Home schooling and home-based learning activities are entirely acceptable, as alternatives to playgroups or other organized early experiences. The reason most parents want their children to go to out-of-home preschools is because a good, nurturing and organized program offers children the opportunity to become socially aware of others. Children are social creatures, and want to be with others from the time they can move around and begin to acquire language. All humans re-engage at some level in the socialization process. Most experts feel socialization starts at birth, at home where parents are tending to the infant with emotion, as well as physical and nutritional care.

All children have an innate need and powerful drive to have friends and loving relationships because we now know that even infants have complex abilities and talents, and attend to others as one of heir most pleasurable activities. Long before children are four years old, they want to imitate, play mom and dad, take on pretend games and assume roles that they see others do. The best preschools provide stimulation, assess child progress, address special abilities and delays with a knowledgeable staff. No preschool should be closed to observation and outside scrutiny, and therefore parents need to visit, call, be involved in significant ways.

Susan H. Turben, Ph.D.

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