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My kid (not born yet) has both parents working.

I have the choice of calling up my father in law to stay at our house to watch the infant of 5 months and I also have the choice of sending the kid in daycare.

If my father in law stays at home with us then we will have to get a babysitter who will be there the full day.

One con of not letting the baby go to the daycare is IMO that he'll be exposed to TV at the age of 5 months at home. At a quality daycare, I can make sure he doesn't get to watch any TV.

After one year he will in any case have to be send to the daycare.

Is 5 months a too young age to let the infant be in the daycare OR should we prefer to be at home with his grand father and a babysitter?

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4 Answers 4

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We had to send my son to daycare by the time he was 3 months old.

My wife got 4 weeks of maternity leave, and then used 4 weeks of vacation to extend it to two months.

I had saved up 4 weeks of vacation/personal time as well, so I took over staying home once my wife had to go back to work.

At 3 months, we started taking our son to a friend who was looking to get into daycare (she was a stay-at-home mother with 3 daughters, and our son was the only one there besides her daughters). It was a pretty decent arrangement, since she agreed to minimize our son's exposure to TV (her daughters watched it during the day), and he got a fair amount of interaction (both she and her daughters doted on him).

The only downside seemed to be that my son developed a fascination with blonde girls :P

However, at 5 months, the friend decided to accept a job offer, leaving us stranded. Fortunately, we found an in-home daycare run by a woman who had both a license as an in-home daycare provider (with attendant prerequisite training), and excellent recommendations from a friend who had sent 2 of his daughters to her for years.

So at 5 months, our son went to a daycare with 7-9 children, all but one of whom were significantly older (the ages ran from 4 months to 5 years at the time).

More than 2 years later, my son is still there, and we're quite happy with the arrangement (aside from a few minor bumps that result from interactions with children of parents that aren't as engaged, or who have some significantly different perspectives on parenting techniques than we do).

Pros:

  • Social Interaction My son has established friendships with quite a few children there over time. While the roster of kids attending changes (some outgrew it, some moved, other new kids came in to take their place), two of the children there now are ones who were there when he started, and he's adjusted very well to the others leaving. Generally, I have to say that my son is far more social than either I or my wife. I was shy, even as a kid. My son is most decidedly not. He has also learned how to share; not to hit, push, or bite; and how to take turns. I have seen much older children who don't have the level of mastery of these skills most of the kids in the daycare have.

  • Health This one is questionable, but I have heard this repeated from many other parents. When we first started my son in daycare, he got sick. A lot. Every cold, flu, or other nastiness (including a bout of hand, foot and mouth disease that wound up knocking me out for 4 days!) that was going around... my son caught it. Many of them seemed to start in the schools, get transmitted to kids in daycare from older siblings, and then get to my son. This lasted for most of the first year. Now, however, my son rarely gets sick. Supposedly this will help him resist a lot of the stuff going around once he gets into school, too. However, I'm skeptical.

  • Nutrition Oddly enough, our son eats much better at daycare than he does at home. He is a very picky eater for us. At daycare, though, he apparently eats whatever he's given (and our daycare provider prepares homemade meals for the kids old enough to eat solid foods). I suspect peer pressure plays a part in this.

Cons

  • Lack of control We simply don't have the level of control over his environment that we would if he were home, even if we had a baby sitter. Despite our resolutions when planning our parenting strategies, he does watch TV (it runs in the background at daycare, and kids periodically bring in DVDs of their favorite movies/shows). He does get exposed to other influences that we don't love (one boy, now gone, had some behavior problems that included words that aren't generally appropriate for that age, and had a grandmother who spanked him in front of my son).

  • Cost Our daycare is a fraction of the cost of what we'd be paying at other daycares within our area, and the cost is still significant.

  • Schedule We lose a bit of flexibility in our schedule. We have to drop him off between certain times, and pick him up before 5p.m. (although we have asked in the past for a little flexibility from our provider for specific circumstances; not all daycares will allow this, though, and many charge exceedingly steep "fees" for picking up outside of normal times). Since we're reliant on a single provider, for days where she is sick or has a vacation, we have to make other arrangements (sometimes on short notice).

Other Considerations

Not all daycare providers are the same. For that matter, neither are all babysitters.

You have to do your research, and check references (this is very important; try to at least talk to some people who have brought their kids to the daycare before committing, if at all possible). Also check to see if the daycare is licensed and insured,

In our area, almost every daycare is full, and most use a waiting list system. Frequently they will limit the number of enrollments by age bracket, so even if there is an opening, your child may be too young or old for that particular spot. It isn't uncommon to have to wait over a year for an opening.

Going earlier, rather than later, may have some additional benefits. It makes it easier to drop them off in the morning, since they become used to it at an early age. We rarely have any problems with my son becoming upset about going to daycare, and if he does complain, we simply point out that he'll get to see his friends, at which point he says "oh, yeah!" and becomes enthusiastic.

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and had a grandmother who spanked him in front of my son). you might be surprised to know that "beating" kids to improve their behavior is considered very normal in India. I have received several "heavy physical beatings" from my parents, elder brother, and teachers in schools for nearly 12 years. :) Our teachers used to hit the students (of class 8th) on their knuckles with dusters and canes. One teacher used to punch us very hard on our backs! Thanks for your answer though. –  TheIndependentAquarius May 23 '13 at 5:53
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@AnishaKaul I'm not terribly surprised, actually. Corporal punishment was the norm here in the U.S. not too long ago, although its use has steadily declined in the past few decades. And yes, it still existed in some schools when I was a kid (mostly private religious schools). –  Beofett May 23 '13 at 12:02
    
I'd add that corporal punishment is norm in a lot of Latin American (and Caribbean) countries too. And the fact that it has declined in the US, I think is because of the increased concept of child abuse, and how unilaterally it is viewed by the courts and law enforcement. –  Jesse May 28 '13 at 15:41
    
In most (all?) European countries, physical spanking is illegal now, but earlier it was the norm here too. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun May 29 '13 at 7:05
    
An added pro: at 5 month the baby will probably happily attach to a caregiver. At 9-12 months separation anxiety sets in, and it can be a hard time to start daycare. –  Ida Jul 21 at 18:31

That depends a lot on the daycare and the age of the other kids.

Where I live (The Netherlands), maternity leave ends when the baby is 12 weeks old, and then they go to daycare, usually just 2-3 days a week at first. This means that the staff is experienced with babies of this age, and they are well cared for. There is also a rule that in the groups of tiny ones, there is one care provider per four babies.

The downsides that I experienced with my son in daycare were that he would be more tired than usual at the end of the day, and that he was often sick in the beginning. Both are unavoidable, but you might have reasons to want your kid to go through that kind of adjustment later (e.g. an older baby is more robust). Personally, I don't think that it makes a big difference in the long run.

The positive side is that smaller babies adjust to strangers more easily. On my son's first day in daycare, we found him completely asleep, completely relaxed, in the arms of one of the ladies working there. He had just fallen asleep while feeding. The transition from home to daycare was completely smooth for him.

I believe he started really enjoying daycare around the time that he began to crawl (7-8 months). There was more space to explore, more toys, and it was a safe space where he could touch anything he wanted, all of which he really liked. At that point it seemed pretty clear to me that daycare is preferable to staying at home.

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I agree with Ana - daycare is preferable (if you can afford it - I don't know if it has a cost where you live).

Putting the baby in daycare means the child will be cared for by trained professionals in a safe environment. It will relieve your father-in-law of a responsibility he might not want to accept, or might not be well suited for.

Daycare also means more social interaction which is a good thing, although it does include a risk of the usual sicknesses. Training the immune system is useful, but 5 months is pretty young.

Daycare also means reliability and consistency. Reliability is important to you if you depend on the time for your work. Consistency is important to the baby because fixed routines make small children feel safe. And your father-in-law is free to use his days as he pleases :-)

But daycare has downsides, too. You might not agree with the style and methods of the daycare staff, and you might not want to have your child in the hands of strangers for so many hours every day, every week.

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Thanks, I just talked to a peer here and she told me that the daycare people have to entertain many children so they resort to TV often. Secondly, they may not interact with a 5 month old until the baby cries, which means they might not be "talking" to the 5 month old at regular periods or checking his nappies to know if they are wet. You think this is common in daycares? –  TheIndependentAquarius May 22 '13 at 12:29
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@AnishaKaul It's entirely dependent on the daycare, the area, and even varies from staff-member to staff member. In the UK, they enforce policies on nurseries, and TV for infants is a red mark, but you do have to assess by going how much interaction and care there is. If you're in an area with lots of kids and low funding, more TV. We ended up going with a "child-minder" (basically looking after 5-6 kids of ages 7-8 months and up), and she had time to engage with them all. Really worth the money... but a significant amount of money. –  deworde May 22 '13 at 12:45
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Note that daycare, in some places, does not mean that the staff includes trained professionals. In the U.S., some states allow exemptions for religious-based daycare facilities, sometimes with tragic results. –  Beofett May 22 '13 at 14:56
    
@Beofett That link is broken. –  TheIndependentAquarius May 22 '13 at 17:11
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@AnishaKaul I just tried it, and it works for me.... articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-03-09/local/… –  Beofett May 22 '13 at 17:21

One point I'd like to add that I haven't seen listed is that putting your child into a daycare at an earlier age allows them to learn the daycare's schedule and routine at an earlier age. My son started in daycare at 6 weeks old and we NEVER had any trouble with transitions from room to room, knowing the staff, etc. My daughter didn't start in daycare until she was over age 1 and it took her a LONG time to adjust to all the teachers, the other kids, their day-to-day schedule, etc. Maybe it's just my daughter's personality, but the road was a little more bumpy for her than it was for my son.

If you can't find a daycare that you feel comfortable with, then you will have to go with option 1 (father-in-law/babysitter). I, personally, feel more comfortable putting my child in a daycare where there are many caregivers "policing" each other so to speak than I do inviting someone that I basically don't know into the privacy of my home where there is no one to observe them if they choose to harm my kids. That's just me. I have two sisters-in-law who would rather die than put their kids into daycare and both have had a number of babysitters/nannies over the years.

We've been through several different childcare facilities over the past five years or so because we had changes in our lives and moving and whatnot. Here are my primary suggestions:

  1. Check to see what (if any) requirements daycares in your country/area are supposed to meet. Daycares here in the US are pretty well regulated. If they can't meet the minimum requirements, they shouldn't be on your list.
  2. Schedule a visit with any daycares you are interested in. Scheduling this time will usually allow you to ask any questions you have.
  3. Once you've made your initial daycare visits, DROP IN UNEXPECTEDLY to see how they treat the children in their care when no one is looking. Many times, if you schedule a time to visit a daycare, they will make sure that everyone is on their best behavior, everything is shiny and clean, etc. If you drop in unexpectedly they don't have time to do that. You can even do it under the guise of needing to pick up some paperwork or drop off some paperwork or something. You don't have to do this with every daycare that you initially visited, only the ones you're starting to seriously consider.
  4. Find out their student-teacher ratio. Keep in mind that if they say that they have a 4:1 ratio that may mean they have 12 kids in their infant rooms with 3 teachers/caregivers in that room with the babies.
  5. Ask if their teachers/caregivers are certified in things like first aid and CPR. You can even ask to see proof of this because they could certainly lie to you.
  6. Certainly ask for references of families that you can contact. If they can't give you any, that's probably a red flag.
  7. Ask about their teacher/caregiver turn-over. If they go through a lot of caregivers in a year, that's usually a sign that the teachers are unhappy working there and wind up going elsewhere whereas a more stable workforce is typically a sign of happier employees. Happier employees usually mean happier children since they aren't constantly having to learn new teachers/caregivers all the time and all the new quirks of those new teachers.

Those are some basics. There are many more. If you can't put your child into a daycare without feeling completely comfortable doing so, then don't do it. You'll spend all your time at work worrying about them and second-guessing yourself and generally suffering from extreme mommy guilt. You will have plenty of opportunities to suffer from mommy guilt over the next 18-20 years, don't make picking a daycare be one of those things. If you can't be comfortable with your decision, go with the babysitter and give yourself a few more months to find the right place.

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Thanks for the details. –  TheIndependentAquarius May 28 '13 at 14:20
    
"Daycares here in the US are pretty well regulated" except if they're established under religious organizations, in which case they can be exempted from lots of sensible rules. (Scary example in this news article). Other countries might have similar loopholes that one should be aware of. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun May 29 '13 at 7:08
    
This is true in the state of Virginia where that particular incident took place. If you read the laws for that state, even an unlicensed faith-based daycare is supposed to meet some minimum requirements regarding health and safety inspections, immunization requirements, and the staff are supposed to be undergoing training and development. The real tragedy of that whole story is that there were any number of things that should have shut that particular daycare down long before a child died of SIDS in the infant room. –  Meg Coates Jun 2 '13 at 0:25
    
Parents beginning the search for a childcare provider should make themselves aware of these things. Knowlege is, after all, power. –  Meg Coates Jun 2 '13 at 0:34

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