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Going back to work in USA when baby is 6 weeks old - how to choose suitable care?

(19 Posts)
Fishpants Mon 17-Oct-11 16:57:39

I am a single parent by choice, living in the USA - will have to return to work when baby is 6 weeks old as that is the mandated maternity leave allowance (all 6 weeks WITHOUT pay I might add!!!). I might take 8 weeks but that would be the maximum.

No family can care for the baby so I will be left with the 'traditional' child care options: nursery or CM (nannies are non-existant in this part of the country). I can see pros and cons to both.

Can anyone share any experiences?

annh Mon 17-Oct-11 18:57:49

I think it's difficult for people to comment in any but the most general terms as you are in the US, where different rules and regulations will apply to childcare. People will probably tell you, for example, that a childminder may give more continuity of care and have more one-to-one time with a baby than a nursery but we have no idea (or most of us don't!) how CMs are regulated, if at all, in the US. Also what the rules governing nurseries are, what the ratio of children to carers is etc?

An0therName Mon 17-Oct-11 19:06:11

yes quite different system - in UK would go for a CM but they are very heavily regulated here
you could post in the living overseas section as there are quite a few US based mumsnetters

jamaisjedors Mon 17-Oct-11 19:13:48

I xould go for a childminder, having gone back to work myself when my two DS were 10-12 weeks old.

I think a childminder/home setting is better suited to younger babies who don't need the noise/stimulation of a nursery.

Also if you have a fairly hectic job, a childminder will be much more flexible than a nursery could ever be - of course depending on getting a good one - but mine will look after the children if I have a late meeting and has even offered to have them overnight.

They are a part of her family.

BertieBotts Mon 17-Oct-11 19:13:54

Okay, taking any regulation differences out of the fact (Could you look them up? Or let us know what state you are in?) - I would always if possible go for a setting which allows the baby to develop a main bond with one caregiver, and if possible, one who will be with them as they get older (so not changing to a totally different caregiver when they move up to the toddler room, for example). The obvious solution to this probably is a childminder, but it's possible some nurseries may offer this as well.

This would be my overriding criteria above all else, mainly based on Attachment Theory (wiki article)

An0therName Mon 17-Oct-11 19:17:35

Just to note the ratios ie number of children to carer will be critical - so in the UK a CM can only have 1 under 1 and normally in total 3 under 5 - and with a very young baby I would be looking for the other children to be in the older range

thisisyesterday Mon 17-Oct-11 19:21:30

if it were me, i would do my utmost to find something as close as possible to what he would have at home with you. so, one primary carer who can look after him in a home atmosphere....

i know you say nannies are non-existent there... but there is no possibility? at all? I would have thought that for the right wage you may find someone? you could advertise in childcare magazines or at agencies etc etc?

Fishpants Mon 17-Oct-11 19:36:15

Apologies for not giving the relevant regulation info (which is woefully inadequate compared to the UK)...

Here where I am - it's all fairly murky in terms of residential home care and I'd hazard a broad guess at approx 75% of childminders not being registered by the State. Providing care for 3 children or less (in ADDITION to the carer's own children) actually exempts a carer from needing to be certified, and the children can be of any age - so theoretically, my CM could have 3 children of various ages, and s/he could also be looking after my 6-week-old plus 2 other 6-week-olds!!

Carers with 4-6 additional children must be certified, of which no more than 4 must be under 1 year old unless an assistant is present, and 10 children including provider's own is the maximum. There are 2 yearly visits from the certifying board, CM must have First Aid/CPR and 6 hours of continuing education per year.

Nursery ratio for babies is 1:5, rather than the UK's 1:3. And the maximum group size in an under-1's room is 10. Regulations include 12 hours of training for staff, at least 1 unannounced and 1 announced re-licensure visit per year, and various other program requirements.

These are the bare minimums I could find, and I have found a list that claims to set out the more extensive procedures but all I am really getting from it is a glossary confused. I may try to advertise for a nanny but I definitely need a firm backup in place.

Fishpants Mon 17-Oct-11 19:37:26

thisis Further to the nanny option - there are no agencies within a 3-hour drive, and there are no local childcare magazines - all national and do not have nanny advertisements in them. The best I could do would be a local newspaper classified ad, which may attract some candidates (fingers crossed!).

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 17-Oct-11 20:03:28

Hi Fishpants
Congrats on the impending arrival and shock at mat leave
If you would like us to move this to Living Overseas where you may get some more American MNers to help out then let us know

thisisyesterday Mon 17-Oct-11 20:03:53

blimey, i would have thought that regs would be far more stringent over there!

might be worth advertising privately. i think I would rather have an unqualified person working as a nanny for me, than have my 6 week old be one of 10 babies in a room with 2 assistants who only need to have had 12 hours training each!

obviously those are only min regs though, so you might find that actually local nurseries ARE more stringent, which brings me to my next point... go and check them out! and the local childminders and see what's out there before making a decision

BertieBotts Mon 17-Oct-11 21:05:32

Definitely go and see them. Ask questions about

Staff turnover. You don't want a nursery which has staff leaving and arriving all the time. Not only is this difficult for your child, it indicates possible problems with management.
Whether your child will be assigned a keyworker
If there are different rooms, whether the keyworkers move with the children into the next room (I think this would be unlikely unless they have a small number of children)
Staff ratios
Security policies ie who is allowed in and out of the building, how this is enforced.

Amount of experience/training of staff
Amount of children, ages, whether they go full time/part time (ie are they all going to be there all of the time or are some days quieter)
Flexibility e.g. weekend care, overnight/evening care, whether staff are allowed to babysit for parents as a private arrangement.

Some stuff you might not be thinking about with a newborn, but probably best to ask about now, to avoid conflict later on or a dilemma where you are thinking of moving your child because of some issue, but they are settled there.
- Discipline policies/practices
- Food policies - when they intro solids, what kinds of foods they provide, whether it's included or costs extra, whether they encourage them to eat everything or are more laid back (etc)
- Educational aspects - are they pushy or laid back or somewhere in between?
- TV - do they let them watch, how much?
- Access to outdoors, whether they ever go out of the house/nursery on trips and where.

As well as all the stuff which is relevant now like
- Are they child led or routine led? (If they use a routine you should ask for a copy so you can try to follow it - though be aware not all babies like routine!)
- Will they handle expressed breast milk (if you wish to use this)?
- Do they feed/rock/carry babies to sleep, or do they let them cry it out?
- Do you have to provide nappies?
- If they use transport at all do they have appropriate car seats, will you have to provide one, when do they turn babies forward facing?
- What is their policy on illness and medication? At what point would they fetch you from work?

When you are there, look at all of the rooms, not just the baby room. You can't do the test which is seeing whether they are interested in the child if you're looking now, but it would be a good sign if they seem enthusiastic about the idea of your new baby joining them and seem to have time for you and want to show you around. Try to see how they interact with the other children as well, if you visit when they have children there. Be wary when asking the questions which depend on your personal preference if they seem to be telling you the answers they think you want to hear. Although on individual child issues like introducing solids, FF car seats, CIO vs rocking to sleep, if they say they will do whatever you specify, that's probably a good sign. The things like whether they encourage them to eat, how they enforce discipline, TV etc won't really be able to be tailored to each child so they should have a policy which covers all children.

badgerhead Mon 17-Oct-11 21:43:24

Hi Fishpants..It definitely depends on which state you're in as to what regulations there are on childcare and as to whether it has to be registered, licensed or not registered even. I belong to an Amercian Daycare Group on Yahoo and therefore have several contacts throughout the states who I could easily ask as to what the regulations are in their area (& I think in some states it varies slightly from county to county). If you want to pm me you are welcome to. You never know I might even be able to find a provider for you through my contacts. The members of the group are varied & some are family daycares & some work in centers.

BertieBotts Mon 17-Oct-11 23:28:28

And forgot to add on the nursery questions list - ask if staff stay in one area (e.g. baby room) or if they move between rooms during the working week.

Fishpants Mon 17-Oct-11 23:34:31

Olivia that would be lovely, thanks very much! smile

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 18-Oct-11 00:09:33

No probs, I'll also change the title to put the American-ness in it, if you don't mind? Very best of luck

Halbanoo Tue 18-Oct-11 19:20:06

Visit a few daycare facilities and see what your "gut" reaction is. You can get a good sense of the quality of care provided just by visiting a few infant rooms at daycares. Most people choose home-based care/childminder for a baby that young. You can always move the baby into a daycare center at a suitable age (after about 6 months or so)

I was lucky enough to delay my return to work until my son was 5 months (he went right into a daycare center) but my friends who went back to work around 6-8 weeks postpartum all said that it made them feel a bit more at ease to have their babies at a home-based facility with a carer they felt they could get to know well (compared to the often rapidly changing revolving door of daycare center workers).

Halbanoo Tue 18-Oct-11 19:22:03

Good points also made above about State credentials for carers/daycare centers. I lived in Texas and all childminders and daycare centers were inspected at least once a year, if not more. Those reports are published online and should be easily found with a quick Google search. I would assume the same would go for other states.

blackcurrants Thu 20-Oct-11 01:50:18

Fishpants I put ds into a daycare at six weeks, he still goes there now at 15 months. we are in NJ and had a good pick of places with carer:baby ratios of 1:3, the state mandates 1:4 I think. DS had one primary carer and still goes in to say hello to her every now and then, and get a cuddle, even though he has moved on to the walkers room. we have all-day webcam access and all-day pop ins welcomed, most places will be the same. Happy to talk more by PM if it would help you, advice re:staff turnover upthread is good. visit lots and see what the staff are doing, we chose ours because they were sitting next to the babies, cuddling and singing to them, playing with toys- all in the course of a normal day. Go with your gut, if it feels lovely and the facts add up. We also heard glowing things from DH's colleagues who use it.

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