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Helping Your In-Home Caregiver

To help your daycare provider make the most of her time with your child and understand his needs:

Communicate. When you leave your child in the morning, take a few minutes to talk with your caregiver. "A lot of parents don't understand that problems at home can affect their child's care," says Sara McCallum, a daycare teacher in Portland, OR. If your toddler had a bad night, for instance, he could be cranky and refuse to cooperate during group activities the next day. If you won't see your caregiver in the morning, write a note instead. Convey less pressing issues by calling after hours or scheduling a conference.

Get the right stuff. Parents can unknowingly sabotage their child's care by not providing proper essentials--a supply of diapers, a spare pacifier, a clean change of clothes, a morning snack. Check on your little one's supplies periodically.

Label everything. If your child is in group daycare, put his name on any clothing, toys, books, or supplies that may get lost in the shuffle. If he needs to take medicine during the day, tape a small picture of him onto the label; write easy-to-follow instructions on the container, so there won't be a need to call you at work to double-check the dosage. When an antibiotic is prescribed, ask your pediatrician for one that has to be given only once or twice a day, or better yet, one that doesn't need to be given during daycare hours.