My one year old daughter currently goes to a 'day mother' who has two other babies in her charge. My husband wants her to go to a crêche starting in January. I think they are both good options but I was wondering which option you think is better. The day mother is a very loving woman so I am quite happy with her. My husband thinks my daughter will need more stimulation soon. Also, we are both a little concerned because she gets to watch a little television at the day mother's house.
Thank you very much in advance!
From: Working Mom, Anytown,
Dear Working Mom,
I am not familiar with the term "day mother" (although I love it, and assume it's akin to family day care since she has two other babies in her care), and I know nothing about the creche system, (although I can search the Web like anyone else and what I find is that it is a French immersion day care that appears to be more popular outside the US than within), so I can't comment on these specifically.
In general, the thinking is that all children need socialization beginning about 18 months. By that, I mean some exposure to age mates. Until then it's nice, but by no means a make-or-break issue. Even at 18 months, toddlers are only engaging in parallel play, but they still benefit from the exposure to each other in terms of language acquisition, potty training, motor development etc. For children not in the day care system, it can come from neighborhood play groups, age-appropriate play ground activities, Mom & Me classes, and the like. By 2 1/2 or 3, children benefit from more structured play opportunities where they are introduced to the concept of turn taking (not sharing!), following limited directions, etc.
So to answer the first part of your question, there's no urgency to make a change if all is well.
All may not be well, however. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends NO screen time for children under the age of 2 because studies show it can have a negative impact on the rapidly developing brain. Common sense can prevail, of course -- half an hour over the course of a week wouldn't bother me; half an hour a day absolutely would. (People have accused me in the past of being rigid on this point but I stand by the APA research). So you need to know how much screen time your baby is getting and what the content is.
So yes, a family day care provider who plops babies in front of screens is a bit of a red flag for me: It makes me wonder if there are other short-cuts that would make me unhappy. Is this alone reason to leave? No. But it does give pause. Talk to her before you do anything precipitous, she may be open to guidance, she may not even be aware of the research. Then I'd let that conversation be your guide as to when you want to make a change.
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