Infant daycare can be found in a variety of settings, although child care for infants will generally be provided within a child care center
or home daycare
attended by older children as well. Accepting children as young as a few weeks old, infant child care centers can be a lifesaver for families in which neither parent will be staying at home full-time. Besides being able to work, many working parents will also enjoy the social network of other families that often arises within a child care community. However, because of the lower teacher-to-child ratio required, the cost of infant child care is higher than for older children. Indeed, infant daycare costs can be as high as $22,000/year for full-time infant care in a center, and up to $16,000/year for a home daycare.
Depending on the philosophy of a given infant child care program, a typical day might vary, but in general, a consistent schedule and guided exploratory play will be the rule. While new parents are often concerned about being separated from their baby, it's important to note that a number of infant daycares allow parents to stop by to check on their child during the day. Some even have nursing rooms for breastfeeding mothers who want to continue nursing their infant without switching to a bottle. This is especially common in infant daycares that are sponsored by the mother's employer (although it is available in many home daycares for infants, as well as child care centers.)
Some parents may worry that placing their baby in a daycare center might impact their ability to forge a strong parent-child bond. However, many studies have shown that there is no evidence to support that theory
, as long as parents remain engaged with their children when they are together. In fact, most young children thrive on consistency and regular attendance at a daycare for infants provides a comfortable setting that they can rely on. Additionally, the trained child care providers, age-appropriate early education program, and face time with other little ones all can lead to a happy child and a positive developmental outcome.
While there are many potential benefits to sending your infant to a daycare, there are also some drawbacks that should be considered. First, the high cost of infant daycare can prevent a lot of families from enrolling their child in an early childhood education program. Also, while parents appreciate the social aspects of a daycare center, it's worth noting that children get sick more often in daycare
. However, the good news is that they get sick less often when they get older! Finally, some parents simply prefer to have the additional bonding time that comes with keeping their child at home. Part-time child care
or drop-in daycare
might still be good options for those parents.