Child Care

After pregnancy, those parents returning from maternity or parental leave to work will need to investigate daycare choices for their baby. Some don't like the idea of leaving their children with others while they're at work, but the reality is that many families rely on the incomes of both parents.

The thought of placing your child in daycare can be pretty scary, with what we read in the newspapers and see on the nightly news regarding abuse and neglect. However, if you know all of your options and remember to always trust your instincts, you will be able to find a childcare option that is best for you and your baby and that you're totally comfortable with.

Daycare Centers | The Best Childcare Option?

Organized daycare facilities are becoming more and more popular for working parents, although it is generally one of the more expensive options. Close to 30 percent of children whose parents are working go to a daycare center.

In daycare, children are cared for in a group setting by adults who are usually well trained. Because they're in a group, children get the opportunity to interact with other children their age.

Daycares must meet certain minimal criteria as to the ratio of children to caregivers, and all states require the centers to be licensed and inspected by the state at least once every year.

One benefit to centers is that you don't have to worry about a backup plan if your child's caregiver is sick or goes on vacation, although if your child is sick, you may need to locate an alternative caregiver.

In-Home Caregivers | The Best Childcare Option?

Approximately 35 percent of children whose parents are employed outside the home are cared for in their own home by family members such as another parent, grandparents or other relatives. Sometimes, they are cared for by non-relatives such as nannies or au pairs.

This allows for more one-on-one personal attention in a comfortable, familiar environment. Having in-home care may also give parents more control over the kind of care their children receive.

It also may provide more flexibility for parents' work schedules, and there is no need to transport your children to a different location, making it much more convenient.

The cost of in-home care varies greatly depending on whether you choose a relative (which can sometimes even be free) or a full-time nanny, which can easily run up to $400 or more per week.

Family Daycare

Many children (over 30 percent) receive care in other people's homes, such as at their grandparents' or another relative's, or even more commonly, in a family daycare center. These are centers where the childcare provider cares for children in her (or his) own home, often in addition to her (or his) own child(ren). These centers may offer more flexibility than typical daycare centers in terms of days and hours.

Most states have licensing requirements for family daycare centers, although you will need to evaluate the center carefully yourself and check the provider's qualifications. This option is usually less expensive than a traditional daycare center, although the cost varies.