As a Daycare Teacher there are many stories to tell.
Recently, there have been a few that I think should be shared as a learning tool for parents. Communication is key for caring for your child! Please share with your Daycare provider, we would rather have too much info than not enough!
1. Give us details about napping routines.
After about 3 days of a baby not getting enough sleep time during the day I was asked “Why is baby not napping?” My professional answer is: “There is so much going on in the classroom that the little one was too distracted. We also have to follow safe sleep rules; that means on back, in a crib (not a swing), no blanket/lovie/wub-a-nub (not until 12 months old), no swaddling but sleep sacks are allowed and pacifiers.” Come to find out this particular baby has a very strict nap/sleep routine, they are put in one of those new Merlin suits, given a pacifier, snuggled for no more than 10 minutes then put in a crib and the lights turned off. Well, we were never told this routine when the baby started daycare or given one of these suits. Please make sure to give us the supplies we need for nap time. Also, be prepared for a change in naps if you have a routine that we cannot do (swaddling or being left in a swing); there are some things that are not allowed.
2. Overpack for daycare, just don’t overfill!
A baby comes in with 2 bags of frozen breastmilk and one clean bottle and 3 clean nipples for the entire day. I asked the parent where the others bottles were, to which the reply was “just rinse that one out.” The first issue is each bag has approximately 8oz of frozen breastmilk and baby only drinks 4oz at a time. To thaw these frozen blocks of milk, we run them under the faucet. Most times these overpacked bags breaks leaking the precious pumped milk down the drain. Mom is horrified to hear that milk was lost. Don’t overpack freezer milk bags. Put anywhere from 2-4oz in the bag and lay them flat in the freezer. Easier storage, easier thawing, and less wasted milk. The second issue is we cannot properly clean, dry and sterilize bottles (most places don’t). We ask for clean bottles with nipples for each feeding plus one, just in case. Make sure your overpack for daycare!
3. Pack a variety of foods.
11-month-old baby loves food. In fact, she tries to eat other babies food off the highchair if they are eating at the same time she is. She comes in with the same food everyday for the past couple of weeks. Every day this baby gets a waffle and a pouch of food for breakfast (usually applesauce), nuggets and a pouch for lunch (veggies hidden in applesauce), snacks are bananas and Cheerios. This poor little girl has been battling with constipation for a week now and the parent can’t seem to figure out why. Applesauce (unlike apple juice) is binding. She is getting 2 servings of applesauce and a banana a day for about 3 weeks now. We have written down on the daily note that she tries taking different foods off of highchairs. I have handed the parent a list of finger foods on 3 different occasions. Word to the wise, pack a variety of foods–as long as they have had them with the parents before, so you know there is not an instant allergic reaction.
4. Stick to a feeding schedule.
A mother brings in her baby screaming. This child is known for controlling what and how much he eats at daycare. Mom informs us that she purposely didn’t feed him so he will be hungry for us. Well this kid is too far gone on the hysterical, crazy train to eat. I couldn’t even give this kid a bottle. He was so hysterical he fell asleep for 3 hours. So now this baby hasn’t eaten in over 7 hours. Mom was so mad we didn’t feed him. I cannot force feed a child; I am also not going to put a spoon in a crying child’s mouth so they choke. If your child is trying to gain control over food, stick with a feeding schedule and be explicitly clear to the daycare teacher!
5. Don’t confuse checklists for checkups.
At the daycare I work at, we give out developmental checklists every 3 months in the infant room. This checklist is just to show what we have observed at daycare. I handed a parent the developmental for a 4-month-old. They looked it over and asked if I thought their child was delayed. “They don’t do anything, do they have cerebral palsy.” In no way am I trained to answer that question. I am not a pediatrician. In fact, I am not any sort of specialist, nutritionist, behavior specialist, therapist, speech pathologist…the list could go on. The developmental checklist is a tool–it is just a snapshot of what we were able to see at school when the parent is at work. Parents are given a copy of the checklist to talk about with their pediatrician and ask if additional support is needed. It is in no way the be-all and end-all to what your child can do.