Choosing child care is one of the most important decisions a parent can make. Finding the care most suitable for your child will take time, but learning about the types of child care available and what makes a quality child care program will help your search to be successful.
THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR YOUR CHILD
Some important factors or questions to consider when
selecting quality child care are:
- What is the education level of the child care providers?
- Is the space safe, bright, attractive, and interesting
- Does the environment allow for a variety of play
activities both inside and outside?
Parents may use TrustLine to find out background information
about caregivers who are not currently required by the State
of California to be licensed. TrustLine, a public registry
maintained by the California Department of Social Services
and the Child Care Resource and Referral Network, includes
caregivers who have submitted their fingerprints to the
Department of Justice and have no disqualifying child abuse
reports or disqualifying criminal convictions in California.
These “license-exempt” providers include: (1) in-home care
in which a caregiver (nanny, babysitter, friend, or relative)
provides care for the child in the child’s own home and (2)
home care in which a caregiver provides care in their home
for children from only one other family besides their own.
Some before- and after-school programs may also be
HEALTHY & SAFETY CHECKING POINTS
Is the facility licensed?
Are the proper adult/child ratios maintained?
Is the setting bright and attractive, with adequate space
for quiet and active play both indoors and outdoors?
Are all areas child-proofed and free of hazards
and is all equipment safe and in good repair?
Is the facility clean overall (bathrooms and
diapering areas, kitchen, play areas) and
is handwashing practiced regularly?
Are there safe areas for napping?
Are there working smoke detectors,
fire extinguishers, and a first aid kit?
Is an emergency evacuation plan posted and practiced?
Are there emergency contact cards for each child?
Does the caregiver have liability insurance
or a waiver of liability?
Does the caregiver or center staff have up-todate
training in pediatric first aid and CPR?
Does the caregiver or center use appropriate
car seats or safety belts for each child if
children are being transported?
If food is furnished at the facility, is it nutritionally
balanced and prepared and stored in a safe manner?
Getting enough sleep is an important part of a healthy, happy lifestyle. Yet parents often face many challenges with their children and sleep. Fortunately, there are ways to change unhealthy patterns and help your child get the quality sleep he or she needs.
For proper brain and body development, children need sleep. However, from worrying about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) with a newborn, to getting a toddler to sleep, to helping a preschooler cope with nightmares, most parents face challenges with their children's sleep. Fortunately, by getting the right information and making some changes in routines, most sleep problems can be eliminated.
SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME (SIDS)
SIDS is the sudden death during sleep of a seemingly healthy baby. Although there is no known cause of SIDS, there are things that parents can do to help with prevention:
- Always place your baby to sleep on his back.
- Make sure your baby is sleeping on a firm surface.
- Put your baby to sleep in a room that is not too warm.
- Make sure your baby is in a non-smoking environment.
- Keep loose bedding, pillows, and toys away from a sleeping baby.
- Make sure your baby receives all recommended immunizations.
Changes in your child's life such as an illness, vacation, new home , or new caregiver can affect sleep.
Be patient and stick to your bedtime routine and your child will be able to return to her regular sleep pattern soon.
WHY SLEEP IS SO IMPORTANT
Pediatricians agree that not getting enough sleep can cause children serious problems such as:
- Reduced coordination and reaction time; tired children are much more likely to get injured
- Difficulty paying attention and reduced memory retention, which results in less learning at school
- Increased irritability, rising frustration, and difficulty controlling emotions
GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP
Children's need for sleep changes as they grow. Below are some guidelines on the right amount of sleep for your child, depending upon his age. The amounts include both nighttime sleep and daytime naps.
When a child bites or is bitten, a strong emotional response is sure to follow.
Children and adults alike may experience overwhelming feelings of fear, anger, frustration, and guilt. Biting by a child of any age cannot be tolerated. It is not safe, socially acceptable, or helpful in creating a positive environment for children. And most of all — biting hurts!
WHY DO CHILDREN BITE?
Most biting occurs among toddlers who have limited language skills or ways to express their feelings.
Preschoolers, too, may occasionally bite when they have become so frustrated or overly tired that they have lost all control. Pressures to keep pace with a hurried adult world can be very stressful for young children. They often need more time than adults allow to move from one activity or setting to another: home to child care, dinnertime to bedtime. Also, intense play such as tickling or wrestling for an extended time can overwhelm children and lead them to bite.
WAYS TO DISCOURAGE BITING
- Evaluate the children’s environment to make sure there is ample space, equipment, and toys to keep all the children occupied and to minimize having to wait turns.
- Avoid overstimulation for a child who becomes easily frustrated. Keep groups small and make play periods shorter with less challenging activities.
- Increase adult supervision to intervene before frustration levels rise.
- Teach cooperation throughout the day, demonstrating words and phrases children can use to express their desires and feelings. Praise cooperative behavior.
- Familiarize yourself with the child's signals of rising frustration or anger.
- Be aware of the child's current situation. Does a parent have a new job or exams at school? Is there a loss or an addition to the family? Evaluating what a child is experiencing helps in understanding what a child may need so that she does not resort to biting.
ACTIONS TO TAKE
When a child bites, adults must intervene quickly, calmly, and firmly. Most often, a child bites because he is out of control, which is very frightening to him. Parents and caregivers can help children the most by staying in control themselves. Reassure both the child who bit and the victim. If possible, keep both children by your side as you inspect and wash the bitten area with warm, soapy water. This way, you are demonstrating the consequences and the seriousness of the behavior.
Young children may not understand that biting hurts. Make sure the children understand that biting cannot be allowed and that you will stop it every time. A child who is out of control and frightened by his own behavior needs to know that adults will help take control until he is able to control himself.
- Encourage — but do not force — the child to comfort the victim with words, hugs, or pats. Demonstrate that gentleness and kindness are expected.
- Assess what led to the biting and teach the children alternative actions. Give the children words they can use to ask to have a turn with a toy such as, “Can I have that next?” or, “It is my turn now.” Suggest acceptable ways a child might express his anger or frustration such as pounding some clay or
drawing a picture.
A new caregiving situation can be
upsetting for both parent and child, but with some preparation and suggestions, parents and caregivers can work together to ease the transition from home to child care.
An all too typical scene on the first day of a new caregiving situation is a frightened child in tears, clinging to a parent’s leg.
Parents often feel embarrassed or confused about what to do next. They may feel a mix of strong emotions: either sympathetic and angry toward the child for this protest, guilty for leaving the child, or perhaps questioning what they have “done wrong” since everyone else’s child is adjusting so easily!
Separation is a developmental challenge. When adults take children’s feelings seriously, talk to them honestly, and give them lots of understanding support, children can learn ways to cope with separation successfully both now and in the future. Responding to “I want my mommy!” is only the beginning.
TIPS TO EASE SEPARATION
- To build trust, always tell your child the truth — that you are leaving but you will be back. Don’t disappear without notice. Sneaking out does not build trust!
Say: “Mommy is going to work and I will come back to get you after your nap” (or whatever time, based on an activity in the child’s schedule).
- Stay calm and show confidence in your child, but get help if needed. Ask your child, “Can you say goodbye to me by yourself, or do you need (caregiver) to help you?”
- Develop a special goodbye ritual that you and your child share at every separation. It should be short,
pleasant, and loving. Be consistent.
- Always talk to your child about the happy experiences to expect in the new situation. Help your child look forward to a favorite activity or person.
- Keep a brief schedule of your child’s activities or discuss your child’s day with the caregiver as time permits. Use that information to reinforce the good times as you talk to your child. One of the least fruitful questions a parent can ask a child is, “What did you do in school today?” because the response is usually “Nothing.” But if you were to ask, “Who did you sit next to at snack?” you may open up an entire conversation about your child’s day.
- Prepare your child for a new separation. Prior to the first day, make a short visit and include a tour of the facility. Show your child where his belongings will go, where the bathrooms are, and where he will nap.
- When your child’s first day arrives, be prepared for your own separation anxiety. Once you have said
goodbye, leave. Prolonging your goodbye only makes things harder. If you are concerned about your child during the day, call your caregiver. Most parents discover that all was well shortly after their departure.
- Help your child choose a part of home to bring to child care if she wants. Often a blanket, snuggly toy, or familiar photograph extends the security of home to the unfamiliar setting. A “blankie” is a tactile comfort that smells, feels, and looks like home.
- Watch for your child’s individual expressions ofanxiety — wetting pants, thumb sucking, or other
behavior changes. Patience and understanding from parents and caregivers will help your child cope with his feelings.
- Be prepared for separation anxiety to appear after a seemingly painless initial adjustment. (Many teachers call this response “Second Week-itis.”) Your child is now comfortable enough to show her true feelings.
Don’t mistake this apparent delayed reaction with indications that something is wrong with the caregiver and withdraw the child needlessly.
Being a parent or caregiver can sometimes seem like an overwhelming responsibility. While caring for your child, you are also fulfilling many other roles that can create stress at home, at work, and in other settings. If not recognized and dealt with, stress can affect your physical, emotional, and mental health. As a result, your family environment will be affected, especially your children.
It is important to pay attention to your body to recognize signs of stress so you can take steps to respond in a healthy manner. You may not be able to eliminate causes of stress, but you can reduce and manage it so you can function at your best for yourself and for your child.
CAUSES OF STRESS
Stress can be caused by a variety of positive and negative factors or a combination of factors. Some sources of stress are:
- The sickness or death of a loved one - Hardships affecting family and friends
- Relationship troubles
- Loss of work - A new job
- Balancing work and family
- A new baby
- Disciplining children
- Financial troubles
- Moving to a new home SIGNS OF STRESS Your body often tells you when you are under stress. Pay attention to these signs, especially a combination of them.
- Back pain
- High blood pressure
- Frequent sickness
- Unusual weight loss/gain
- Frequent indigestion
EFFECTS OF STRESS
Stress can affect you physically, emotionally, and mentally. It may cause you to react to others and situations with less control than you normally would. Listed below are some of the effects that stress may have on you and others.
- Lashing out at children
- Neglecting children
- Problems with relationships
- Difficulties at work
- Health problems
- Disorderly home environment
- Inability to concentrate
The following suggestions may help to reduce the level of stress in your life.
- Feelings of depression
- Stomach aches
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feelings of anxiety
- Cold sores
- Overeating or undereating
Seek stress management classes and counseling through your local social service agency, hospital, or community center.
- Exercise. (You can burn off chemicals that build up in your body during stress.)
- Eat healthy foods. (Avoid processed foods. Eat less sugar and fatty foods and more vegetables, fruits, and whole grain foods.)
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, drugs, and nicotine.
- Make time to get adequate sleep and rest. (Most adults need an average of eight hours of sleep per day. Children need an average of 10 to 12 hours, depending on their age.)
- Find hobbies you enjoy.
- Get family members involved to help with responsibilities at home.
- Learn to say “no” when you have the option.
- Make a list of “things to do” to eliminate the clutter in your mind.
- Seek support from family and friends.
- Take time to take care of yourself.
Having good nutrition means giving your body the food it needs to grow and stay healthy. Healthy eating habits help children have the energy they need physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. It also helps them prevent and fight off illnesses. As parents and caregivers, you can help your children build healthy eating habits so they can make smart nutritional choices.
-Carbohydrates provide energy. Fat helps growth and provides energy. Protein helps growth and brain development.
-If a child eats a diet based on My Plate, he will get the vitamins needed to be healthy. Give your child vitamins and supplements only if the pediatrician recommends doing so.
-Children should eat three full meals and two to three snacks every day. When a child becomes a toddler, her appetite often decreases. Try serving smaller amounts. If she wants more, offer a second serving. Do not force her to eat food.
-Healthy oils are fats that provide essential nutrients. Some oils are used in cooking, such as canola or olive oil. Other foods are naturally high in oils, such as nuts, fish, and avocados.
-Foods labeled “reduced-fat” may have high amounts of sugar.
-When a child eats more calories than he uses up in physical energy, he can become overweight. Watching television and snacking for several hours at a time on a regular basis can lead to obesity.
-Serve lean meats: Fish, lean beef cuts, skinless chicken, and turkey.
-Instead of butter, use soft margarine with zero trans fat and vegetable oils made from canola, corn, olives, soybeans, or sunflowers.
-Use fat-free cooking methods like baking, broiling, grilling, poaching, roasting, or steaming.
-Read nutrition labels to make healthy decisions. Percent Daily Values are based on calorie levels for adults. Foods intended for children have a Nutrition Facts Panel that is specific for children.
-Serve meals with small amounts of fat, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and sugar.
-If your child often refuses food, try offering a variety of healthy choices. Avoid bargaining and begging to get your child to eat. (For example, if your child refuses milk, try offering cheese or a fruit smoothie made with milk.)
-Do not keep supplies of snacks high in fat and sugar at home. Buy what you need for special occasions.
-Practice food safety: Wash your hands, rinse and dry fruits and vegetables, and clean surfaces that come into contact with food. Keep raw, cooked, and ready to eat foods separate while shopping, storing, and preparing foods. Make sure foods are cooked to a safe temperature and refrigerate perishable foods quickly.
-If you feel your child is overweight or has unhealthy eating habits, talk to her doctor or a registered dietitian for recommendations.
-If your child attends child care or school, find out what type of meals and snacks are given and how often they are given.
ALLERGIES & SPECIAL NEEDS Food allergies are common in many children. For children with special needs, their developmental disabilities or food allergies may require special diet plans. - Seek help from health consultants, other parents, pediatricians, and therapists. - You may need to give special attention to amounts of food, frequency of feeding, medication, special equipment, or types of food.
- Some common food allergies are cow’s milk, citrus fruits and juice, egg whites, nuts, and wheat. - Some symptoms of allergies are coughing, diarrhea, itching, nausea, rashes, runny nose, sneezing, stomach pain, swelling, and vomiting.
- If your child has allergies, always check a food’s ingredients.
Children’s early eating experiences affect their future eating habits. For children younger than two years old, do not restrict fat or calories unless the doctor says to. Keep in mind that the amount they eat will vary because their diets are changing.
-Children should have at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
-Limit the amount of time children spend doing activities that do not require physical movement like watching television, using the computer, and playing video games.
-Because of funding, some schools are not able to offer recommended amounts of physical education. Some alternative ways for children to exercise are: Dancing ,Jumping rope , Playing at a park , Playing sports , Playing tag , Riding a tricycle, bicycle, scooter or skateboard , Rollerskating or rollerblading , Sledding or ice skating , Swimming , Taking walks & Throwing balls