Susannah Birch is a certified birth doula, journalist, and owner of Trimester Talk, a leading pregnancy website.
Should ? Could I?
A baby is one part of life you'll find comes with a lot of decisions. From where baby should be born to when they should eat, all the way up till when and where they should start school, decisions must be made.
Choosing to send your child to daycare and return to work is another big decision. For some mothers it's a painful experiment in hopes of helping an only child get some more social interaction. Other mothers rush back to work for a few days a week just so they can have some sanity in an otherwise nappy and bottle filled life.
Whatever your reason for returning to work or sending your baby to daycare, you need to remember that it's yours alone and only you know the circumstances. If you want your child to stay home - that's great. But if you want to return to work, that's great too!
Of course, each baby and situation is different - so in the end - it's your decison.
Habits & Routines
You need to think firstly, about whether your baby has any special needs. If your baby was preterm or had any problems after birth, you may need to take these into consideration when choosing when and where to leave them.
Another important issue is feeding - if you breastfeed you'll need to be prepared to express and have a carer willing and able to correctly feed expressed milk to your baby.
You'll also need to consider the differences between your home and a carer's. If your baby is used to being picked up, going to sleep a certain way or being picked up the second they make a whimper, they may have a hard time adjusting.
What Age Is Best
Like most things with babies - it can vary widely depending on the child's development, home surroundings and their personality in general.
Most carers and daycare centres will take a child from 6 week onwards but most people agree that this is too early. Babies often become clingy around the age of 6-8 months so, if you wish to avoid a scene, it might be wise to get them used to being away from their parents before 6 months.
Most babies can take a little while to adjust to daycare. Of course this can vary depending on how many days and hours they spend there. Don't be surprised if it takes your child 6 weeks or more to get fully comfortable with their surroundings and develop a routine at daycare.
Why keeping your child home too long can be bad for them
Studies have shown that a baby is often better adjusted when their parent works part time. The reason for this is that being away from your child full time can lead to feelings of loss and rejection - baby still needs its mum.
However, keeping your child home for too long can lead to big problems if you need to go somewhere or leave them somewhere new. The first few years are the most crucial, when children are learning about their surroundings - and they can't do this to the full extent if they are always with one person, in one place.
What to look for in a carer
- Someone friendly who doesn't scare your child (or you!) more than most strangers.
- Someone who realizes children are different - and doesn't ignore most of what you tell them about your child because they think they are experienced.
- Someone willing to fit in with you and your child's routine.
- Check the cost - this can vary widely. Some places will charge you per hour while others will charge you per day (since they cannot book in another child in that block of time.)
- Make sure that they have strict policies on things such as how many children with one carer, who can pick your child up and cleanliness.
Checklist before returning to work
- Make sure you have all the items your child will need for daycare - most centres will give you a list. Make sure all items have your child's name on them.
- Spend some time with your child at daycare. Most carers and centres will allow this - if they don't it might be a better idea to try somewhere else.
- Send baby to daycare on days when you are able to pick them up if you need to - this way you can both get used to the idea.
Types of care
- Daycare centres - a special centre with separate areas for different age groups.
- Home care - a carer looks after several children in their own home.
- In home care - someone who comes to your home.
- Friends & Family - a great choice if you have plenty of extended family.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
michelle on February 15, 2019:
hi can you see adout a baby
Kate on January 03, 2019:
Mmm l don't feel fine because am a sectary l yes close by five pm and also nurseing mother l have any good person to take care of my baby l feel very worry my self please l need help thank you.
Provi on April 04, 2018:
Hi my son is 2 years old and I start sending him to day care but he cry a lot it almost a 4th day but still he is crying ... not able to understand shell I keep him home or continue with day care
Allison on December 09, 2012:
I started my son in daycare at 6 weeks, I might have liked to stay-at-home a bit longer for bonding... but I had no choice! I am a doctor and was given 6 weeks for my maternity league. Although, He is only in daycare 3 days per week, and my mother and mother-in-law take care of him the other 2 days. But, I do feel that my son will benefit from his experiences at daycare. He is now 1.5 years old, and has moved in to the toddler room at his daycare, he loves daycare "school" and I love the fact he is learning how to be a productive member of a classroom community!
davyfetons on December 08, 2012:
hi trevor if your still in need of them i think this is the site and details , they have a wealth of knowledge ,just say mr davy fetons
give you there number
mj23 on April 10, 2012:
I really do agree that babies should be put in daycare to get used to socialising with their peers. I was kept at home until the age of 5 when I was sent to my first daycare. It was a severe shock to my system. I was a quiet introverted child until my late teens and very socially awkward. My baby is due in 2 months and I will make sure that she is well prepared for the world before she goes to formal schooling.
Susannah Birch (author) from Toowoomba, Australia on December 16, 2011:
Kim you obviously didn't read the article very well... it's pointed out that working full time is not the best option, but a day or two of daycare each week can be beneficial to the child.
kim on December 16, 2011:
what's the point in bring a child into this world when your all to busy working!! this really boils my blood.your selfish in having the child to start with and then even more selfish in living the child for some one else to look after.
CatrionaS from England on November 12, 2010:
I'm very lucky in that my dad offered to look after my first son when I was ready to go back to work. I still put him in nursery, but only for 2 half day sessions so he had some social interaction with children his own age. My friend has no choice but to put her son into nursery full time, 11 hours a day, 5 days a week, and it's killing her. She's currently looking into getting a nanny as she feels so guilty about leaving him in there for so long. I'm currently on maternity leave with my 2nd child so have this all to look forward to again! I'd love to be able to stay at home but it's not really an option unfortunately!
Susannah Birch (author) from Toowoomba, Australia on November 11, 2010:
Abby, I'd say that before 6 months of age would be a good choice. They don't have to go every day - in fact one day a week is fine. However getting them used to day care before the "scared of strangers" stage means it'll be a lot easier than trying to put them into unfamiliar care at a later age.
Abby on November 11, 2010:
what is the best period of time to leave your newborn
Amy29 from South Carolina on October 01, 2010:
No help here in South Carolina.. its work or stay home!
G. M. Cruz from USA on August 28, 2010:
I have been at home for the past 3 years and it has been great. I had to give up some things but it is worth it to spend all day with my son.
sunnygb on June 29, 2010:
In the Czech Republic, you get some money when your baby is born and then you get up to three years of paid maternity leave (about $400 a month). No wonder all my friends are having more kids and I'm glad we can afford one in Texas.
saket71 from Delhi, India on April 28, 2010:
Hi, thanks for the nice hub, am pondering on when to put my about to be two year old daughter in the playschool/day care. While I know, this has to happen, it worries me to no end that this step out of house that she makes will be first of many that she will make, each taking her farther from home. But then as Khalil Gibran said, children are arrows which have to leave the bow, and ships will sail, sooner or later, for their own good.
LarasMama from a secret location, Australia on April 20, 2010:
You're very lucky then! In Australia we get $5000 'baby bonus' and a small fortnightly amount after that, but not enough to live on. Most workplaces allow up to a year leave for each child. I'm back at work but only two days a week - I have a 6 month old. I'd rather be home!
Wendy Iturrizaga from France on April 20, 2010:
The cost is a very important factor. In France mothers have lots of incentives to stay at home after they have a baby. A friend of mine had 3 years paid (with all extras like Xmas and mother's day bonuses) maternity leave for her 4th child. I think that the more children you have the more extended maternity leave you can have. I think it is very good, because mothers are not forced to leave their babies if they don't want to.