If you’re a working mom you know that sooner or later, the time will come to leave your baby with an infant caregiver. Aside from wondering how you’ll find the perfect person or situation, you might be fretting over how your glued-to-you baby will react to being without you. The good (or at least bittersweet) news is that if you’ve got an infant younger than six months, the stress of being away from your baby will be a lot tougher on you than it will be on your baby. You’ll always be his number-one choice, but take comfort in knowing that when you’re gone, he’ll likely be gaga over just about anyone who goo-goos at him. It may also help to know you’re not alone: Nearly three-quarters of babies and toddlers with working moms are in some type of childcare, and many studies have shown that leaving your baby in quality childcare can have a positive impact — socially, emotionally, and cognitively.
Still, it’s totally normal to have mixed emotions about childcare: You may feel guilty and anxious about leaving your baby…you may feel a bit relieved…and you may feel guilty that you’re relieved to leave your baby! This is hard stuff, Mom, so go easy on yourself and focus your energy on finding the right childcare situation. Knowing your wee one is in caring, capable hands is the best way to ease your mind. Here’s a blueprint to get started.
Decide which type of infant caregiver is best for you.
Where you leave your baby — in group daycare, in family-home (also known as in-home) daycare, with a nanny, or with a relative — comes with its own set of benefits and challenges. This series of articles will help you find the option that’s best for your family.
Start your search for an infant caregiver sooner than later.
If you want to put your baby in daycare, it’s never too early to start looking into group programs. That’s because the good ones, especially those that accept infants, often have long waiting lists. If you want to hire a nanny or choose an in-home daycare (and even though finding a spot’s not quite as competitive for an in-home daycare as it is for a group program), you should still start your search at least two months before you plan to head back to work. If you’re planning to leave your baby with a relative caregiver, do a dry run well in advance of your first day back on the job in case the new arrangement doesn’t work out (for you or your relative) and you need to find a backup option.
Know where to look for an infant caregiver.
Online searches work really well for some things, but the best way to find out about top-notch candidates or reputable centers is word of mouth. Don’t be shy about asking parents — at the playground, at Mommy-and-Me class, at the next table at Starbucks — if they can recommend a great infant caregiver. Nursery-school teachers and your child’s pediatrician are also good sources, as are bulletin boards at your doctor’s office, library, or house of worship. If you do go online, get names of licensed daycare centers near you from your state’s Web site (usually, the two-letter postal abbreviation followed by .gov). Looking for a nanny? Agencies on the Web sometimes sell lists of pre-screened candidates — though you should always look into references yourself and make sure there’s been a thorough background check.
Weed out unlikely prospects from your list of infant-caregiver candidates.
Before you meet potential caregivers in person, ask basic questions (about fees, hours, and CPR training) over the phone so you set up appointments only with people who sound truly promising.
Original article here.