Should you put your infant in daycare?

Is Infant Daycare a Good Option?

As a Newborn Care Specialist, Infant Sleep Consultant and Postpartum Doula, I am asked often what my thoughts are on infants attending daycare. When their time with me is through, new parents would like to know, given the option, what do I think? Should their infant go to daycare or a child care center? Is it truly better to hire an in home child care provider such as a nanny or babysitter?

Daycare or Nanny?

Some families are fortunate and have the luxury of either option. Other families do not, and must utilize a center for their infant.

IF, the family has the financial means to hire an in home care provider, that is my first recommendation, for two primary reasons:


1) Daycare centers are notorious for being cesspools of germs.

Even if your infant doesn’t attend the center, but an older child does, they are constantly exposed to other children that are getting sick. Your exposed child brings this home and exposes your infant, or you and your spouse. I have had three families this year (that I know of) pull their children out of daycare due to this reason alone. One dad told me he was tired of being sick all the time, which included getting pink eye. Twice! Their 10 month old also had a cold on and off for 6 months. A fourth family, years ago, had an older child that brought a cold home to her 4 week old brother, which led to RSV. He had to be hospitalized for two days because he couldn’t breathe well and was getting dehydrated. I enjoyed bronchitis that took 3 months to heal. 


2) Daycare centers are not ideal sleeping environments.

In the first 6 months of life, babies need to sleep a lot. Ideally 4.5 hours during daytime hours until about 3 months and 3-3.5 hours from 6-12 months.

Naps are harder for babies to develop in a center for several reasons:

  1. More babies and children means activity going on all the time. Lights, noises, people moving about, children crying. This is a lot of stimulation. All. Day. Long. Including when your little one is trying to get their needed sleep. Babies tend to want to be involved in it all and fight sleep. They get less overall sleep throughout the day, which also means less REM sleep. Babies need this sleep to grow and develop properly, eat well and be happy little humans.
  2. Sleeping environments tend to be out in the open where everything is happening and or several babies in one room, trying to nap at the same time.
  3. Because teacher to child ratios tend to be 1:4 or 1:5 in most centers, babies are often put to sleep in swings, rockers and bouncers, out of desperation. This creates a dependency and makes it harder for babies to learn to sleep in their cribs.

All three of these wreak havoc on your baby’s ability to develop good naps and connect sleep cycles. Because babies tend to catnap all day at centers, they are often exhausted by the time they get home and pass out. This is usually before dinner or even later, which is not an ideal time for your baby to have a 2 or 3 hour nap. It typically leads to a baby that wants to be up late, sometimes until 11 pm or midnight.


Sleep is Better at Home

There are definitely many pros and cons to putting your baby in childcare, but I’ll address those in another post. For now, based on the two primary reasons above, I personally think in home care is better, if you have the ability. If a partial daycare schedule is an option, it can a fantastic compromise. Baby attends daycare several days per week or for only a few hours each day. This tends to be nice happy medium for a lot of families. It helps the budget and gives parents the opportunity to work or take care of other tasks.

At the end of the day, each family has their own unique needs. Research, weigh the pros and cons and do what is right for your family. If we can help, please contact us.

The content contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or to replace the advice of any medical professional. It is based on our opinions and experience working with newborns and their families. Other’s opinions may vary. It does not represent the views of any affiliated organizations. The reader understands that term “Babynurse” is often a word used to describe a newborn caregiver. However, unless otherwise disclosed, we are not licensed nurses in any state. By reading and/or utilizing any information or suggestions contained in this blog, the reader acknowledges that we are not medical professionals and agrees to and waives any claim, known or unknown, past, present or future.
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