To Daycare, or Not To Daycare
Deciding on a daycare is one of the biggest decisions you make with new parenthood. The ability to stay home with your children, or have a family member stay with them, isn’t always financially feasible for many families. So they turn to finding alternate care. There are a lot of options available. Finding a nanny, a church daycare, a center, or a childcare home for your newborn is exciting and terrifying. Finding a place where your child will feel loved, safe, and enriched is stressful.
So, I should start by explaining. First and always, I am a mom. Before having kids of my own, I spent 5 years as a nanny. Now, I proudly provide family childcare service out of my home. So when I say that I’ve experienced first hand the stress parents carry when trying to find the perfect fit for their child, I mean it. It’s not easy for anyone involved, and that’s okay. But the benefits of raising children in a family childcare environment- they’re there, they’re real. And it’s worth it.
In the beginning, children sometimes arrive scared, nervous, or under socialized.(Check out my tips for a rockin’ Daycare drop off, here.) But then, after a while, I watch them bloom. Joined in a social environment, kids language skills begin to explode. In awe, I marveled as small babies and toddlers performed tasks that most babies and toddlers wouldn’t dream of. They did this simply because they see their bigger friends doing it. I have seen rough and rowdy preschoolers learn sensitivity and gentleness when growing up with much smaller infants.
So frequently, when a parent leaves their child with a caregiver for the first time, there are tears on both ends.
I want to assuage your guilt. There are wonderful benefits to your child growing up daycare.
3 Benefits to Raising a Daycare Baby
- Increased Immunity
- Social Skills
- Sense of Community
1. Increased Immunity
Kids who grow up in a large childcare environment tend to get sick. A lot. I’ve had so many bugs and illnesses come through my little home it would make your skin crawl. Don’t get me wrong, I keep my home clean. It may not look like I have much to show for it, but I spend half my days scrubbing to keep the germs at bay. Breastfeeding your child can help build immunity. yet despite my best efforts (and lots of bleach), if one child comes in with a bug, chances are by weeks end half my kids have contracted it. As a provider and parent, it is frustrating. So why is this a benefit? Because infections now mean fewer later. So while you may cringe at all the snotty noses when you drop your darling off at daycare, know that he is building his immunity, and is less likely to contract illnesses into their teenage years.
There are plenty of studies linking academic and socialization success to daycare in children. everyday interaction with children both younger and older than themselves teach them how to relate to others, how to compromise, share, work together. I see my five-year olds learn patience and gentleness with their younger peers. I see my infants follow around my preschoolers, just one of the group. Putting aside the studies who show that daycare children excel in communication skills, I see the socialization benefits in my Littles every day.
Sure, the kids squabble. They argue, fight over toys. Sometimes they even bite (see my 5 steps to stop toddler biting, here.). But in those many arguments, they learn to discuss their feelings. They problem solve. They know each others favorite song, show, color. At such a young age, my Littles are best friends. Toddlers join us who are largely nonverbal, and in a few months time, I watch their verbal skills explode. I see their compassion, hear parents tell me how all weekend long, they babble about their friends, and I know that they are receiving something more valuable in my home and childcare than they would ever receive at home by themselves all day.
3. Sense of Community
It could be, in part, that I run my family childcare business in a small, tight-knit, farming community. By our home, the kids run barefoot in the streets, roaming in packs throughout the neighborhood. When my Littles emerge outside to our play area, it is not uncommon that they’ll find themselves joined with several neighborhood children. Playing tag, racing on bikes in the cul-de-sac, jumping in muddy puddles, pushing each other on swings, my Littles and my neighbors children form their own, miniature sized community.
Part of the magic and what I love about this environment is that these same kids get to know one another from the time they could walk. They will go to school together, play soccer together, go to prom together. They are forming relationships that will last their lifetimes. Likewise, just as my Littles bond, so do their parents.
Some of my closest friendships grew from this daycare environment. Just as their children become friends, the parents bond as well. We look out for one another. We are our own community. And we are are a village. Together, through daycare, we are raising each others children. Our community grows and thrives together, from within and extending out from this simple daycare environment.
So yes, choosing to find someone else to raise your baby is nerve-wracking.
But the benefits to your childs health, social development, and the socioeconomic repercussions could alleviate some of your fears and concerns. As it turns out, growing up daycare grows some pretty awesome kids.
Talk to us! What were some factors that went into your childcare decision for your little one? What were your concerns in choosing the right place? How has placing your child in daycare affected their development?
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