Module 1: Promoting Mental Health in Infancy

Child CareBaby at Child Care

A Safe and Nurturing Environment

Babies benefit most from having consistent child care providers and regular and
predictable daily routines. A skillful caregiver relates reliably to the baby, is available
both physically and emotionally, and responds to his cues, interests, and needs.

Questions to Ask

  • Do you plan to return to work? To school?
  • What have you done about locating someone for child care?
  • What options do you have for child care?
  • Are you comfortable with the arrangements you’ve made?
  • How do you feel about leaving your baby with someone else?
  • How many hours does your baby spend in child care?

Provider Tips

  • Child care decisions can be emotional for parents, and many feel guilty about leaving their baby with other caregivers. Allow parents the opportunity to discuss child care concerns and help them make more informed decisions about how best to meet their baby’s needs.
  • Note any special child care concerns parents may have regarding their baby’s age or temperament. Explore options that might help address their concerns, including the nature and duration of care.
  • Offer parents child care information including child care resources, guides, and information about vouchers and subsidies.
  • Using the guidance listed below, discuss how parents can find quality child care and ensure a positive experience for their baby.

Guidance for Parents

  • Many parents find it hard to leave their baby and return to work. If you are returning to work, talk with your provider about your child care options and your feelings about leaving your baby.
  • Finding just the right child care situation for your baby will help you feel more comfortable about leaving her. When seeking quality child care, look for licensed in-home child care and child care centers. Visit settings where you might be leaving your baby and observe caregivers to see if they are patient, enthusiastic, able to set limits, and responsive to the children in their care. Ask about:
    • Ratio of babies to caregivers
    • Number of children your baby will interact with every day
    • Daily routines
    • Quality of sleeping, eating, changing, and play facilities
    • Caregivers’ knowledge about child development
    • Level of stimulation your baby will experience
    • Policies regarding infection control (hand washing, caring for sick babies)
    • Overall philosophy of caregiver or program
  • After your baby is enrolled in child care, her caregiver will play an important role in helping her to adjust to the new environment. Stay in touch with your baby’s child care provider and ensure that your baby is having a positive experience:
    • Describe her daily routine and ask your child care provider to provide a similar one
    • Talk with staff members and caregivers when you pick up your baby and ask for daily reports about her feedings, sleep, play, and elimination
    • Get feedback and updates on your baby’s development on a regular basis
    • Make occasional unannounced visits at various times during the day to check the quality of your baby’s care
Resource for Families

Safe, Quality Child Care PDF

Making Child Care A Good Experience

Healthy Child Care America

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