So just what does your infant do all day? At day care, what your infant does will depend on the setup and situation of that particular day care.
If your infant is at a home daycare situation where there are few children, what your infant does depends upon the primary caregiver. In this situation you may have a lot of control over what your infant will do during the day care hours. If there are no other children (or just one or two more), you can probably have a lot of guidance and control over what your infant does all day.
Your daycare provider will provide your infant with meals and naps (obviously), but also tummy time, walks outside in a stroller or in a pack, or even facilitate parallel playtime around the other children.
If your child is in an organized formal daycare, your child may do a lot of things, or very little at all. In some formal daycares your infant may spend all of their waking time in a swing, or in a bassinet or other crib. Depending on the daycare, your infant might also spend time doing tummy time, or being carried around by one of the providers in arms or in a front pack. The infant will do what is available at the daycare. If there is a yard or outdoor area, she will probably go outside from time to time with the other children.
In some cases (and we hate to see this) but daycares will simply place infants in their car seats, and the infant will spend much of the day sitting in their seat. Unfortunately, this has resulted in the death of some infants because they are unable to move their heads enough squashed in the seat to breathe.
Nothing is more terrifying for a new mom than worrying about their infant dying while in a daycare because the child is being placed in a position where they can’t move or breathe.
All worries aside, seriously though, your infant’s probably isn’t going to do that much at daycare. Think about it, does your infant do very much at home? They sleep, then they are awake and wave their arms and legs around, then they eat, and then sleep again. A daycare is not going to be all that motivated to create special activities for an infant, because an infant will get very little out of them.
In most cases anyway the best thing for an infant is to hang out and watch the world along with everyone else. An infant doesn’t need to be entertained. They don’t need to be instructed or taught or encouraged to crawl, or walk, or paint or do anything else.
The primary thing that a daycare should do with an infant is keep them safe, make sure they get there naps, and make sure they eat. A daycare should focus on building and maintaining the infant’s schedule for sleeping and eating. Otherwise, in most cases an infant won’t do that much at daycare.
Did my comment about the car seat rattle you? How can you ensure that your infant is safe at daycare? This starts when you are working on selecting the daycare. When you are looking for a daycare for your infant, we recommend that you investigate each potential facility thoroughly. If you can, try to find a time to drop in when the daycare is not expecting you. They will not have time to prepare or move the children into a situation that is more appealing to potential clients.
If you want to see what an infant really does at a particular daycare, the best thing to do is to go and see. In this way you will also be able to identify how exactly the provider provides care for infants.
You also want to find out whether or not your daycare provider has any childcare experience of their own with infants. if your potential daycare provider has never cared for an infant, keep looking.
Next you will want to interview child care providers very thoroughly. Question them extensively about their past experience caring for infants. Does this provider have recent experience with a newborn, or is their experience outdated. Ultimately the best child care providers for infants are moms, or providers who have a cared extensively for infants. So much about infant care is learned through experience, and you cannot teach how to care for an infant through books, courses, or even school. Experience matters so much more for infant care then does education or degrees.
As you are interviewing potential daycare providers, ask them specific questions about infant care. What sort of schedule do you establish for infants? Where will the baby sleep? And if the provider says that baby will sleep in their car seat, back away quickly. Ask to be shown where the baby will sleep. Question that a provider thoroughly about SIDS related concerns such as their policy for pillows, blankets, sleep sacks, and how the baby is put to sleep.
If your baby is in the habit of being nursed to sleep or fed to sleep with a bottle, rocked to sleep versus right off, you need to know if your provider is willing and able to be consistent with the way that you handle infant feedings. It is very important for the baby to have a consistent life and schedule, you are asking for a lot of trouble if your child care provider does things very differently from your preference.
Next, I would ask for references. You want to know of other parents who have placed infants with this care provider. and when you get the references try if possible to have an actual extensive conversation with them, or even meet them in person. I have been called upon many times to give references for former nannies and other child care providers, and in most cases the parents calling me just want to know that I exist and that this provider actually care for my child. They are less concerned about the details of it.
But if they questioned me further they might find out some things that would change their opinion about whether or not this particular provider is their first choice. I don’t feel obligated to volunteer a ton of information to people checking up on references unless there is something really horrible about the provider, because I don’t want to hurt their chances of moving up in the world. I understand that people make mistakes, and they learn from them, and the dog they did for me is probably not the job they will do for someone else. Having that new experience of course. but if they took the time to talk to me and asked me about specifics they would learn a lot but in most cases people don’t.
Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, all under the age of 10. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the US, Emily is a mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the computer when the kids are sleeping. She started this blog in April of 2019 and is proud that the blog is now paying for itself. If you want to know about her journey as a blogger, check out out her personal digital journal or her post about failing her way to blogging success.