Many moms have to work to support their families. But that doesn’t make leaving a newborn baby in daycare any easier. The heartache caused by leaving a new baby in a stranger’s care is a scary experience for a new mother. Here are some of the fears many moms experience when leaving their babies and ways to ease the anxiety when the time comes.
Abuse and neglect
One of the scariest thoughts is that your baby will become just another face in a crowded room without enough caregivers. While abuse and neglect on the caregivers’ part are extremely rare, these are very real fears in the minds of mothers.
“I was concerned about leaving my baby girl in the hands of strangers who would not care for her properly,” said Liz Bello-Matthews, mom of a 2-year-old daughter. “Little babies can’t express themselves and you can’t help but wonder if they’re being mistreated. I was afraid that she could get hurt.”
Do your research. Some daycare centers have background checks on every employee. Daycare centers with a waitlist might actually be worth the wait. They generally have checks and balances in place. And you can always double check with the state licensing board if you want more information.
Bad habits, illnesses or unforeseen problems in the future
Many researchers believe leaving your child in daycare too many hours a week could lead to unforeseen problems in the future, such as lack of self discipline, attention deficit and bullying. However, the federal National Institute of Child Health and Human Development released a study in 2007 stating that children in high quality care scored higher on tests in language, memory and other skills than those watched by stay-at-home mothers or kids in lower quality day care.
Another aspect of daycare, or even if your child is in school, that any parent can attest to is the increase in illnesses. Physicians stress the need for vaccines and hand washing because viruses and bacteria are rampant in these environments.
“It was hard for me the first year to adjust to so many colds,” said Gina Tumbarello, who is a working mother of a 3-year-old boy. “But I realized it truly was one of those inevitable things and let that fear fade.”
Will my baby forget about me?
Mothers fear the attachment with their babies will denature if daycare or a nanny is involved.
“I am confident he will get a lot of attention and love, but I fear that he will love her more,” said Jane Pizem, mother of a three of 4-month-old baby boy. “He will spend five days a week with her, and I will only have him for two. I’m afraid when I pick him up, he’ll cry because he doesn’t want to leave.”
Part of this concern is due to a book, Children First, written by British psychologist Penelope Leach, which argues children should stay home with their mothers for the first year or two. The book claims kids are at risk for attachment disorder if left any sooner.
The amount of time your child spends in daycare has a lot to do with his or her response to it. Most studies examine children who are in daycare for at least 30 hours a week, often more. Also, consider the age at which your child starts daycare. Some centers will not take babies younger than six weeks because it is too young.
Read more on daycare
Should I start a home daycare?
How to make a daycare drop off easier without separation anxiety
How to find a good childcare program for your child