I thought nothing was more nerve-wracking than becoming a parent ... that is, until I started my search for childcare before heading back to work. It's a terrifying experience -- handing your child over to a virtual stranger for the better part of the day. With so many awful stories in the news, it's not an easy thing to do whether you opt for a daycare center or a nanny in-home.
So The Stir has enlisted the help of experts to help you weed out the wackos and choose the best caregiver for your precious little one.
It's a must-read for every parent.
Q: Is a background check really necessary?
Ingrid Kellaghan: "When hiring a child care worker, trust and credibility are key. Background checks should be a critical component of the hiring process. A resume may look impressive on paper, but how do you know the information is true or false? A background check should verify work history, references, education, credentials, and criminal history. This will help you find the best employees and to protect your child, family and home."
Q: What kinds of questions do I ask references to find out what this person is really like as a caregiver?
Q: What are the red flags when evaluating a nanny?
Q. What are the red flags when evaluating a daycare center?
Q: What should the caregiver's initial interactions with my child be like?
Dr. Moberly: "Observe the prospective nanny with your child in several settings -- at a park, in your home prior to hiring. Have her bring several activities for your child. Observe not only her, but your child’s reaction to her. Here's what to look out for ..."
Q: What are the characteristics of a good daycare center?
Q: Are there subtle signs that let you know a nanny is right for kid?
Ingrid Kellaghan: "Yes! There are myriad visible and invisible signs to look for. Pay attention to how your child responds to a caregiver. Is your child happy and energized in their presence? Is your child anxious or withdrawn? Is your newborn baby relaxed or crying uncontrollably? Children have a built-in radar when it comes to caregivers that should not be overlooked. Tune into how your child is responding to the caregiver. If there is not a real connection -- keep looking!"
Q: How do you determine whether a nanny or daycare is best?
Daelyn Dillahunty: "This is more about a family's needs than the child. Nanny care is largely unsupervised and typically costs more than childcare centers. It is still a personal choice that families have to make. Child care centers automatically offer a child social skills due to the very nature of having peers in the class. If a family uses a nanny, it will be important to place the child in programs that will build the necessary social skills needed once they are in school. Another important thing that a family needs to consider when choosing the type of care they want is who will care for the child if the nanny is sick or goes on vacation. The advantage of child care is that most are opened year-round and substitutes are provided when staff are out."
The 8 Questions Every Parent Must Ask:
Meet Our Experts: Ingrid Kellaghan, child-development/parenting expert and founder of Cambridge Nanny Group (www.cambridgenannygroup.com); Dr. Deb Moberly, early childhood development expert and founder of St. Louis-based Children 1st (www.children1st.us); Daelyn Dillahunty, vice president of Children's Lighthouse Learning Centers, a values-based, early-education childcare provider based in Fort-Worth (www.childrenslighthousefranchise.com).
Have you ever made a mistake when choosing your own child nanny or daycare provider? What happened?
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