To daycare or not to daycare?

Hi fellow parents,

Long time reader, first time poster. My husband and I are trying to decide whether or not we should send our 11 month old son to daycare next month. He was admitted into the daycare of our choice after being on a waitlist since December. If it weren’t for the recent rise of Covid cases, I think we’d feel comfortable sending him. The daycare sent us a long and detailed list of ways that they are keeping everyone safe. However, we’re concerned about the risks of exposure especially as we have been sheltering in place since March. My husband and I both work full time and we are blessed to have had family live with us for the last 7 months to help with childcare. They are scheduled to leave us next month.

If we delay his enrollment, we’d be put back on the waitlist with no estimated date given for when he’ll be re-admitted. We could temporarily move in with my parents for a month or so and then look into hiring a part time nanny until things get better and/or his name gets called again. Our jobs are flexible enough to where we could work off hours, and be with our son when the nanny is not around.

Our concern is that we’d be hindering his development by keeping him home. At the present, his only interactions have been with adults and he’s had very little experience playing with other babies. We’re worried that he’ll be bored or under stimulated and that this will hurt his social skills in the long run. Can you tell that we’re first time parents? 😂 

We’d love to hear insight from other parents who have children in daycare or have a nanny. How are you managing any concerns about keeping your children (and yourselves) safe? 

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RE: To daycare or not to daycare? ()

We had concerns sending our kid back to preschool so the first person we spoke with was our pediatrician.  We actually spoke with 2 pediatricians in the practice.  I would recommend speaking with your doctor.  Both of ours were encouraging sending our child back to school especially with precautions in place.  Data has shown young kids are not spreaders and cases are mild. 

A recent article said there have been cases "linked" to California daycares (eg a parent had it from work) but not one case of a child to child spread and that's out of 35k+ daycares licensed in the state and daycares have been open for months (and some never closed).  

RE: To daycare or not to daycare? ()

We had exactly the same thoughts when our daycare reopened in June! We were concerned about the risks of exposure but also that we would hinder our son's (18 months) development by not having any interaction with kids his age.

We eventually decided to send him back to daycare based on a few things: 1) Regarding our child's safety: Current research shows that young children are less likely to catch COVID and are less likely to spread it (so far, there have only been very few COVID-related deaths in the US among children under the age of five). 2) Location of the daycare: Berkeley (where our daycare is) has been doing pretty well in terms of COVID cases and new infections. 3) Risk for others: again, young kids have consistently been shown to be slow to spread the disease and we are not living and are never in close contact with any people that are at high-risk who could be severely affected by the disease. Plus I am also fortunate to be tested for COVID every two weeks at work. 4) Our daycare has been doing an AMAZING job implementing all COVID-related regulations and policies including keeping children in small pods of 3-4 (there are 10 kids in total) and wearing masks at all times. 

Taken all these things into consideration we felt personally comfortable sending our son back to daycare. I completely understand parents who don't send their kids back to daycare/school though! It could very well be that we also change our minds in a few weeks, especially if cases continue rising. But for now, we fell very good about our decision!

I am not sure this helps I just wanted to share our thought process :).

RE: To daycare or not to daycare? ()

My girl is 17 months old and we put her back in daycare when they reopened in June. They are keeping the classes small and having cleaning protocols. Honestly I think its less about the daycare itself and more about how compliant the other families are about wearing masks, social distancing, etc in their daily life. Our daycare has asked parents to keep kids home that have any signs of illness, or if anyone in the household as any signs of illness, asked us all the be responsible in our daily lives, if we have to fly anywhere we must self quarantine at home for two weeks before bringing her back in. 

With that said, you can't really control anyone. Its definitely a gamble, but one hat we felt we had to take. We are both working from home and could NOT do so with my daughter home. Before COVID she constantly had some sort of cold from daycare, since going back she hasn't even had a single sniffle. I think they are keeping things really clean. 

We have family that can help us vs daycare, but our family doesn't really follow social distancing and mask wearing so I feel like they are more of a danger to her because they don't sanitize the enviornment like a daycare would. 

Good luck!

RE: To daycare or not to daycare? ()

TL;DR: The decision is based on your family's risk tolerance and your son's temperament.

My son went to a daycare starting around 7 months and switched to a nannyshare at 14 months, at the start of the pandemic due to daycare closure. We thought the nannyshare was temporary until we noticed that my son feels more secured, is more social, and thrives better under more 1-on-1 attention compared to a daycare environment. We decided to keep the nannyshare until there is a vaccine in place, both for my son's developmental benefits and for safety. We love nannyshare even though it's not risk-free, because my son gets a friend to play with and has more attention. 

If your daycare is small (e.g., less than 8 kids and 2 or more caregivers), its risk level is proably on par with a nannyshare. You can always have your son attend the daycare now for a couple of months, get a feel for it, and then decide whether to stay.

RE: To daycare or not to daycare? ()

I'm sure every parent is struggling with this decision right now. Since so little is known about Covid-19 and young children, there is no right or wrong answer, you just have to choose what is best for you. That said, an 11 month baby does not NEED peer socialization. Babies at that age are only dimly aware of other children, and they don't actually start playing with other children until they are much much older, 2-4 years old. You are NOT doing any developmental harm to your baby by keeping him at home and having loving interactions with grown-ups! And if you lose your place in daycare, you'll get another spot somewhere else. So don't get bogged down by those factors at least. Good luck!

RE: To daycare or not to daycare? ()

With so many unknowns for us it came down to balancing our (informed) sense of risk, our need to actually get work done and feel sane for several hours a day, and our instincts about the daycare place and the other families there. When we balanced those (particularly the sanity during working hours aspect), we made the decision to go back to daycare. Emerging evidence seems to suggest reduced risk of infection in younger kids, so the science seems leaning toward it being safe-ish, especially if the adults are wearing masks and there's increased handwashing and outside time. I think you're totally right about social development. The transition back to daycare was really tough for our 2.5 year old after months of just family but he's doing so much better now and is happy to participate at school and talk about his day.

Plus, if you go to daycare and don't feel safe, you can pull the kid out and go for the nanny/family won't know until you try! and expect lots of crying at the beginning...from everyone

RE: To daycare or not to daycare? ()

Hi there,

We have a 3.5 y/o in preschool and an 11-month-old in a nanny share, and we also agonized over whether and how to restart childcare after shelter in place. Ultimately we decided that the precautions in place at school, plus the ones we agreed to take with the nanny and the other family in the share, made us feel safe, and that the benefits to the kids were worth it. Preschool has a long list of ways to keep everyone safe, probably similar to what your daycare has in place -- masks, distance, lots of cleaning, lots of time outdoors. At the nanny share, we're doing all pickups/dropoffs outside with masks and distance except when we're literally handing off the baby -- so, rather than looking at it as a social bubble, we're doing everything we can to minimize contacts between the adults. Only the nanny and the babies are together without masks. Results after a few weeks are that both kids are really happy and we have some sanity + mental space. It's not an anxiety-free choice, but it's for-sure the best one for us.  

RE: To daycare or not to daycare? ()

I have a 9 month old foster baby living with us who recently started daycare. Like you, we were also concerned that he was under stimulated and bored being only with adults (and we are not first time parents!). I do think that the fact that we were not able to take him to playgrounds or to meet with other children and babies was starting to have a negative effect on his development. I have been impressed with our daycare's commitment to keeping everyone safe as much as possible. Of course it's a risk, life is full of them. With the information we have at this point (babies rarely having serious symptoms, rarely infecting adults), it seems safer than the otherwise lifelong emotional and developmental risks, but who knows- 

RE: To daycare or not to daycare? ()

Your child is still in the parallel play phase, so your son would probably get less out of being with other kids than you think. If your child were closer to 2 (or older than 2), the issue of their development would be more of an issue. I think girls become social and move out of the parallel play phase a bit earlier?? So, at 11 months he might get sufficient "social" time through some sort of "pod" arrangement with some trustworthy families of similar-aged kids so your son can have a playdate a couple of times a week. For us, there was a big change in the style of play when our son was closer to 20mo-2 and at that point he seemed to get something out of playing with other kids and going to library story times etc. He had a little friend who is 3 months younger and it was interesting to see this developmental pattern repeated with his friend as well. So, if it's development you're worried about, I don't think preschool is a necessity, and you should do what works financially and risk-management wise.