Working and Breastfeeding – Choosing a Child Care Provider

Going back to work and leaving your baby in someone else’s care can be one of the most difficult parts of returning to work. Choosing the right person and right setting takes care. You want to find a setting that will provide the kind of care and attention you would give. You want a setting that respects breastfeeding and your expressed breastmilk.  This may take some homework on your part. Visits to the locations you are considering will be important. Here are some things to consider:

In home care with a family member, close friend, or nanny
  • This allows your baby to stay in your home, where all is familiar.
  • It works best with someone the baby already knows or who is willing to come to your home several times before your return date.
In a private home
  • Look for a low adult-child ratio and preferable with yours as the only infant.
  • Preferably with family or a friend.
  • If a stranger, look for a licensed homecare.
  • Ask about any background in child care, child development.
  • Have they experience with breastfed children and the proper storage and preparation of breastmilk for feedings.
  • Look for an “open door” policy where you can stop in without prior notice.
  • Do a home inspection before making your decision.
  • Be aware of possible allergens, like pets, that could be present.
  • Non-smoking – by anyone entering the home.
  • Choose a setting close to your work so that you can go to baby easily if needed.
In a commercial day care
  • Look for low child-adult ratio.
  • Look for low staff turnover so that your baby has consistency.
  • Look for a licensed facility.
  • Have they experience with breastfed children and the proper storage and preparation of breastmilk for feedings.
  • What experience, education, and training does staff have.
  • Look for an “open door”
  • Do an onsite inspection.
  • Look for a setting where the director is as “hands on” as the staff.
  • Ask about space on site for breastfeeding before leaving and when picking up your baby.
  • Choose a setting close to your work so that you can go to baby easily if needed.
  • Observe how care is provided for older children as well, how they relate to the caregivers, time for outside play, relaxed or structured in approach, etc.

When you have decided who will care for your baby while you are separated, plan to ease into the situation. If the baby will be cared for in your home, have that person come to your home several days a week. You can gradually increase their interactions with the baby while you are still present and then take short trips out of the house, even if only to walk outside, to allow your baby to get to know them better and the care giver to know your baby, too. If the baby will be going to a location outside your home, arrange to spend time with your baby in that location so that the place and the people caring for your baby will be familiar to him.

No matter what setting you choose for child care while you are working, it will be helpful if you provide a journal of your baby’s typical day – feedings, naps, alert/play times, baby’s cues for feedings, etc. Many mothers experience a “perceived” drop in supply due to the care giver not reading baby’s cues properly and offering bottles at times that baby is not truly ready to feed. This can cause smaller feedings, milk not fully consumed, milk being tossed, and baby being hungry again sooner, which may lead to the day care going through your regular supply and into any extra bottles you may have stored there.

LLL offers local support in over 70 countries: see if you have a local group by searching here.
Many groups run meetings in the evening, or on a weekend, so those who work can attend. Some groups also run online meetings that may be easier to fit in.

Working and Breastfeeding
Introducing a Bottle to a Breastfed Baby
Feeding Breastmilk From a Bottle

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