Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The great daycare dilemma

Yesterday's comments (thank you, readers!) lend themselves to another interesting internal debate that is constantly raging inside my head.

Daycare center vs. home daycare vs. having family take care of the wee one.

I've been thinking about this a lot... listening quietly when I hear other Moms talk very passionately about this subject. But my mind still isn't made up.

Right now, Anna's with her Nanny while I'm not at home. My hours are kind of all over the place, and I'm fortunate enough to have someone who can work with me and my effed-up schedule. But that's not the only benefit, in my opinion.

Here's how I see things.

Having family watch the baby - pros:
  • Your wee one gets to be with someone who loves them an INSANE amount. (If you could see my parents or my husband's parents with our buttertart, you would think that life did not begin until Anna came into the world).
  • Your baby will have someone's undivided attention. Think about how much a grandparent loves to hold, snuggle, pinch the cheeks of, give gum to, and overall shower their grandkid with love and attention. That can't be a bad thing.
  • Less stress. While I'm away from Anna, I can focus on what I'm doing. I'm not constantly worrying if she's standing in the middle of a room crying while nobody pays attention to her. And I'm not worried about rushing home so I don't have to pay $8000 for each nano-second I'm late picking her up.
  • Familiar environment. Yesterday was my first day away from Anna for an extended period of time. Her reaction? She slept really well, had a great big lunch, played and didn't cry once. Being in a home that she's visited before, with her doting grandparents and lots of toys helps.
  • The price is right.
Home daycare - pros:
  • Baby/toddler interaction. Your baby will be with other babies and, most likely, toddlers in varying ages as well. Which means, they'll probably learn new things faster. Mind you, this could also mean that your baby's first word could be that cool new swear word the big kids learned at school last week. (Mommy, what does @^&#*!! mean?)
  • Semi-familiar environment. 1-year olds still seem so wee to me. So, transitioning from being in their warm, cozy, lovely home to a daycare center seems kind of sudden. With a home daycare, at least they've got that cozy home setting still. (Even if it doesn't smell like home.)
  • Cheaper than daycare centers. Let's face it, daycare is ridiculously expensive. Just another indication that our country is a bit screwed up when it comes to how we take care of our young ones. Home daycare isn't cheap - but at least it's a bit more affordable.
Daycare center - pros:
  • Lots of learning. Your baby will interact with other kids. They'll learn letters and numbers and shapes and colours. They'll even learn that fun tidy-up song. (Brainwashing our kids into thinking cleaning is fun = awesome).
  • Schedules, schedules, schedules. As the Baby Whisperer likes to beat into our brains, schedules are good things for babies. They thrive with a schedule. Schedule, schedule, schedule (okay... now I'm just having fun saying it. Like this: shed-u-el.)
Maybe it's because I've been up since 3am (damn you insomnia!) but that's about all I can list off for pros of a daycare center. Actually, maybe my mind is more made up than I thought. (The pros dwindle as my list goes on, I see...)

NOT to say that if you take your baby to a home daycare of a daycare center that there's anything wrong with it, whatsoever. There are pros and cons to everything. I'm just trying to wrap my head around a subject that I know a lot of Moms struggle with.

After a year of bonding and developing and learning about your baby - the next step seems so hard. Who should be in charge of the continued health and development of your little one? Are they learning enough? Are they getting enough interaction and stimulation? Are they loved and cared for enough?

Man. This having children thing is certainly not for the faint-of-heart.


  1. Pro of Daycare Centre - regulated, great menus, clean environment, mandated outdoor time and trained staff, never need to find back up care

    Con: suits more outgoing type kids, not as much individual attention, VERY expensive, siblings split into age groups

    Pro of home daycare: home like setting, personal attention, calmer environment, cost is cheaper than centre usually, if you are lucky enough to find a good sitter, it's the next best thing to home, siblings can be together

    Con: you must take vacation or find back up when sitter is sick or on vacation, not regulated (generally), must go with gut instinct or a recomendation

    Personally, under the age of 2 or so, I'd keep my kids in home daycare or with a family member (if I was that lucky), but after 2-2.5 I find that they are old enough to really develop social skills and learn some independence and would transition them to a bigger environment. This is what I plan to do this time around with my youngest and what I wish I would have done for my now 4.5 year old.

    I've done both home day cares and centres and can honestly say there are good and bad of both. Daycare centres are NOT these terrible places where kids cry and are left alone all day, like something out of Oliver Twist. The ones that I've experienced are fabulous, fun and loving. Of course, we've had some good teachers and some not so good, but overall, they are truly wonderful environments. But for younger kids, I prefer a quieter environment where they get more personal attention when learning to speak and are still learning how to interact properly with other kids. Right now we have a 2 year old benefitting from being the youngest and watching the older, well-behaved kids.

  2. I have one child in a home daycare and one in a centre, and have also had the experience of a family member watching our oldest. I agree with the above comments. I plan to keep Kailyn in a home daycare until she is around 2-2.5 and then transition her to a centre. Daycare centres are great because they really prepare your kid for going to kindergarten. And, since Kailyn is going to be heading to JK when she is THREE (eek!) since she is a December baby, I want her to have experience in an environment that has a lot of structure and routine, and where she is one of a group and not the only child.

    My son was looked after by his grandmother until he was almost three and in retrospect, I wish that we put him in daycare earlier. He had a hard time transitioning to a world where he wasn't "king" and where he didn't get everything that he wanted all of the time. He needed to learn that he wasn't the centre of the universe! Unfortunately, sometimes when we have family members take care of our kids, they aren't as strict and regimented as we are and it is a rude awakening when kids realize that they can't always have their way!

    I am really happy with the decision we made for Kailyn. While she is in a home daycare, we went through Wee Watch which provides for backup care if the provider is sick or on vacation. It is almost as expensive as a centre but we still get the benefits of having a small, loving setting.

    If there is one thing I have learned in the last few years, it is that kids are extremely resilient. They will be fine regardless of where they are (centre, home, family). I used to worry so much more but I got to the point where I just had to decide to trust my instincts and the people who I chose to watch my kids...and it has worked out fine!

  3. Great advice above! I totally agree.

    I almost put Olivia into a Daycare Centre and the only reason I didn't is we lost our spot. I was really lucky to find our home daycare - it's incredible. And everything happens for a reason, I had no idea Olivia was a bit shy, too many kids stress her out. So now she knows the 3 others she sees every day and I hope it's starting to feel natural to her. Today my lady sent me pictures of Olivia playing - made my whole day!

    And I will say one more thing about Home daycare - our lady has a schedule but she'll deviate if need be. If Olivia is having a meltdown and needs a morning nap, she can go down in her own playpen with her own blankets and chill. My lady also plays Olivia music to help her sleep, the same album I use at home. She wouldn't get that in a centre where all the infants are in the same room.

    They are both good - find your comfort.