You are one awesome woman! You’ve made it through pregnancy, labor, and those first few weeks of looking after a newborn. Your hormones might be raging, eyes burning from lack of sleep, and nipples sore from nursing, but the time has come to abandon your infant to the care of someone else, while you return to work. Ok, not abandon – but to a new mom, it can certainly feel this way. It’s not an easy decision, which is why you should be aware of some of the risks of leaving your little one in the care of someone else.
1) Cleanliness & Hygiene. Are Grimy Toys Normal??
Before you pick a daycare, you MUST, MUST take a tour of the facility and check that hygiene is of the highest level. Yes, even if they have a large group of kids in the daycare and it’s natural for some mess to occur, there are some VITAL questions you should ask the staff:
Do the toys seem grimy or dirty? Ask the staff how often toys are washed and sanitized.
How often do they wash the sheets and blankets used at naptime?? Do they know whose blankets belong to who? Do they have name tags or labels?
Is your baby’s bottle sterilized on a daily basis? You may expect the daycare center staff to sterilize your baby’s bottle BUT be aware they may only wash or rinse it out after feeding. You MUST take it home at the end of the day and sterilize to prepare it for the next day.
2) Child Teacher Ratios. Do They Have Enough Staff??
No one is going to look after your little one like you do! That’s just a fact of life. However, they should have enough staff on hand to give your infant the attention they need. Make a surprise visit to the daycare in the middle of the day and make sure no babies are left to scream, just because they are short on staff. It’s natural that babies will cry, but not for long periods of time without staff taking notice.
Child: teacher ratios should remain low. Specifically, NECPA (National Early Childhood Program) standards indicate no more than a 4:1 ratio for infants and no more than 6:1 for toddlers age two.
3) Diaper Changes. Make Sure the Staff Know Exactly What They’re Doing!
Ok, moms this is vital. The sheer number of diapers that will be changed over a week at daycare calls for the proper hygiene standards. Do they cover the changing table with a disposable cover? Are the staff disinfecting the diapering area after changing the babies? Are they wearing gloves and wiping your child correctly?
Whether you’re leaving your baby with a sitter or at a daycare, you should ensure they write down the number of diaper changes on a record sheet. Typically, formula and breastmilk fed babies poop between 3 to 4 times per day.
4) Attachment Issues. Will My Baby Not Love Me Anymore or Push Me Away??
Leaving your baby for the first time with someone else may literally leave both of you crying your hearts out. You will no longer be their primary caregiver and someone else will be there for the majority of the day. Your baby probably won’t develop any attachment issues if you take a few precautions.
Try nursing your baby before drop-off, and soon after pick-up. This will nurture a strong bond. Or, if you’re not nursing, don’t rush to clean up or prepare dinner at the end of the day. Try to find some quiet time to reconnect, hold, and cuddle your little one after their long day away from you.
5) Germs & Getting Sick. It’s Inevitable BUT Mom, you can Help with Prevention!
One of the most serious consequences of sending your child to daycare is that they will inevitably pick up more germs than when they were safely at home with you. However, worry NOT as labeling your baby’s items can help prevent your child from catching fewer icky, scary germs. These are the items you MUST label before that first day away from home.
- Pacifier – Many kids have the same pacifier. You do NOT want the caregiver to accidentally give your baby the pacifier belonging to someone else. Gross! Use these mini name labels here.
- Bottles – The last thing you want is your kid to catch some weird infection or drink another baby’s milk – Yuck. Use these labels to NAME your child’s bottle, so the caregiver WILL NOT get mixed up.
- Breast Milk – The bags of frozen milk you bring to your child’s daycare, should all be labeled with dates and names. We also recommend you use bag tags for the cooler bag that you’ll be transporting the milk in.
- Baby Clothes and Blankets – That gorgeous outfit you sent your kid to daycare in? Hate to break it to you, but it may get soiled during the day. Ensure nothing goes missing by labeling clothes, blankets, and diaper cloths beforehand.
Trust Your Instincts
These are just FIVE things that all moms should be aware of when leaving your precious little one with someone else for the first time. Going back to work is NOT an easy decision, but choosing the right daycare facility is even more nerve-wracking. Do your due diligence, but at the end of the day – trust your instincts. Because Moms always know best!