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Too Young for Childcare?

Keep It Constant

Often, though, a caregiver just doesn’t stick around. Turnover rates of infant-care providers&nbsp— whether in-home or at a center&nbsp— are depressingly high, at around 40 percent. There are simply no guarantees of continuity and reliability. Studies indicate that infants who must deal with a succession of caregivers eventually feel less comfortable in social situations, so it’s best to seek out centers with low turnover. What’s more, it’s important to check references of family caregivers carefully, to see how long they’ve been providing continuous care.

And, of course, a quality childcare center understands the value of the bond between babies and caregivers. Some centers embrace a primary caregiver system&nbsp— one caregiver (or just a few) largely responsible for the same kids each day. At the very least, caregivers should honor the close relationships that babies form and try to ensure as much continuity as possible.

When Michelle Holback of San Jose, CA, enrolled her son, Zachary, in a center when he was 6 months old, he immediately bonded with one of the caregivers. "Taly is the only one who can calm him," says Holback. The center encouraged their relationship from the beginning. "Whenever Zachary gets upset, Taly always comes over and helps him through it," Holback says.

Likewise, at the Rockefeller University Children’s School and Infant-Toddler Center in Manhattan, children stay with the same caregiver for a full year instead of moving into a new age group simply because they’ve had a birthday, which is typical practice at many childcare centers. "We want babies to develop bonds with the caregivers," says director Marjorie Goldsmith. It’s important that children not change caregivers when they learn a new skill such as sitting up. If you move a child then, Goldsmith says, "you end up turning a developmental milestone into a separation experience."