Helping care go smoothly
Ask providers if they require a written contract. If you pick a provider who doesn't use a contract, prepare one yourself. Include the hours of care, payments, and other details that are important to you. Keep a copy with your records.
Whether you choose an individual care provider or a group care setting, make sure you communicate and have an understanding with your care provider about expected behavior, discipline methods, and appropriate activities.
Changing or ending child care
Child care changes will occur and will require careful planning. As children grow, their needs change. Also, personal preferences, a move, or other life events may require a different arrangement. Allow time for both you and your child to adjust by talking about it ahead of time. You may want to plan something special for your child's last day at the child care center, such as bringing treats and taking pictures.
Talk with your child about what to expect. Stress the positive parts of the change, but acknowledge the challenges.
Worrying about the effects of child care
Some parents worry that the relationship with their child will suffer for having another caregiver. Another common concern of parents is whether children will develop and learn to their potential in a child care setting.
The quality of the child care, the type of care (for example, group or individual), and how much time a child spends in child care have an effect on a child's development. But it is not as great as the effect that you have on your child.2 You have a big impact during the times that you are with your child. Spend quality time with your child whenever you can. For example, have meals together and do fun things that help your child learn and grow in healthy ways.
Your child is more likely to become ill when he or she is frequently with other children. The spread of many diseases can be reduced by practicing healthy hygiene habits regardless of what type of child care arrangement you have.
Having a backup plan
Plan what you will do if your regular provider cannot keep your child or if your child is sick. Children with mild upper respiratory illnesses such as minor colds usually can attend child care. (Usually, mild upper respiratory illnesses are spread before symptoms develop.) Keep your child at home if he or she has a condition that prevents attending child care, such as a fever or a rash.
Some cities have child care centers just for sick children.