1. Parenting

Top 10 Pitfalls to Avoid When Choosing Child Care

By

There are many good reasons parents choose the child care option they do. Unfortunately, there are also many bad reasons as well. Choosing the wrong type of care, or one that is selected strictly for cost or convenience, can backfire, creating a stressful situation for the family and an unhappy child as well. Here are pitfalls to avoid when choosing child care.

1. Choosing Child Care Strictly Due to Location

Location should be a consideration when choosing child care for your youngster. But choosing a child care facility strictly because it is close to your home or work, without carefully determining whether it also meets your family's expectations for other considerations, spells potential disaster. Parents need to make sure a facility provides the right education focus, environment, hours of service, safety, and other criteria as well. Then, a convenient location essentially seals the deal!

2. Selecting Care Because of 'Prestige'

A private pre-school prep program may be right for some kids, but it doesn't mean it is right for your child. Some parents reserve a spot for their child at an exclusive pre-school program when a child is born, or apply for a child's acceptance even before the infant can even walk or talk. However, all children learn in different ways, and a structure under which some kids thrive may very well make others withdrawn. There is no "best" child care; what's best is what works for your family.

3. Picking Child Care Because It's A Bargain

Cheap child care is hard to ignore, especially for families on a tight budget, but don't get swayed into using a child care provider because it's cheap. You may get what you pay for, and that may not be meant in the best way. While affordable child care can be of optimal quality, it could also be offered by a start-up provider or new daycare that may not have experience to draw in families. It could also be a parent who wants to "babysit" other kids for extra cash. Bottom line: be careful!

4. Relatives or Friends Offer to Watch Your Child

Family members have lovingly and carefully watched kids for generations so parents can work. While this arrangement often bodes well for all parties involved, parents need to consider whether their child is thriving or is missing out on enrichment, stimulation, and early education opportunities. Being "family" doesn't at all mean a person is truly qualified to safely watch after a child, especially if it is on a recurring basis. It's okay too for parents to set expectations and place limits.

5. Being Loyal to a Person Rather Than a Place

Child care is notorious for having high turnover among staff, especially at institutional daycare facilities, where pay is low and hours long. Parents should be careful to not choose a child care facility because of an individual teacher/provider. Staff may get transferred to another age group, move to another location, or leave the facility altogether. Unless you're willing to follow this person wherever she goes, make sure you like the overall operations and employees.

6. Using a Caregiver Strictly Because of a Neighbor or Friend

Just because your toddler's best friend uses a particular daycare doesn't mean your child will agree. Parents sometimes make child care decisions based on where a buddy goes or a neighbor or friend's recommendation. While these recommendations provide a good starting point for considering options, parents need to keep in mind that kids may view a place differently, or even find that being in the same care setting actually harms budding friendships rather than fostering a closer relationship.

7. Limiting Your Options To A Specific Type of Care

Parents should carefully research their options for different types of child care offerings (i.e. nanny, daycare, in-home provider, or au pair), and not be closed-minded. Often, parents prefer a particular type of care based on their own childhood or because of someone they like vs. well-thought out fact-based details. Each type of care has advantages and disadvantages, and families should discuss pros and cons and give true consideration to options.

8. Rushing into a Child Care Decision Without Asking Questions, Doing Research

Parents often rush into choosing child care without giving careful consideration into how it will impact the development of their child. Parents may be meticulous and demand details and schedules in certain areas of their lives, yet be all too willing to make a snap decision concerning care of their child. Deciding who will be caring for your kid, whether it is occasional or every day, part-time or full-time, is a huge decision and parents need to make sure they do the proper research first.

9. Not Giving Part-Time or Short-Term Child Care Enough Consideration

So, your child will be spending an hour or two a few times a week in an after-school program, and since it is at school it should be fine. Right? Maybe or maybe not, but parents should be sure to ask lots of questions and do their research first before simply signing a child up. Kids deserve a quality care program regardless of whether they are only there a few hours a week or on occasion. Parents should find out staff's qualifications and experience as well as planned activities first.

10. Sticking With a Provider Because You're Afraid Nobody is Better

Sticking with a mediocre child care provider because you're afraid to make a change or because you fear there may be no one who is better are lousy reaons to keep using a particular caregiver. Parents should speak up and communicate with a provider if they have concerns about whether a provider is doing a good job. If there are concerns that have been discussed and not addressed, and you can't live with the issues, then it's definitely time to move on and find someone else.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.