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Creche or nanny for baby care?

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FOR many new parents, the decision of who should watch over their babies while at work is stressful, emotional and confusing. Many moms are not emotionally ready to go back to work but have limited or no maternity leave policy.

Without paid maternity leave, many parents are left without many options. Aside from being a stay-at-home parent or having relatives watch over your child, the two most popular childcare choices are enrolling your child in a daycare center (crèche) or hiring a nanny to watch over your child in your home.

While most parents are scared of the horrible experiences encountered by others as a result of entrusting their newborns to a nanny or enrolling them in a crèche, they are still left with little or no option than choosing between the two. Both choices have positive and negative aspects, but it is most important that you find a childcare situation in which you are comfortable with and where your baby will thrive.

Few weeks ago, it was announced in my church that a lady lost her 4- months old  daughter, (the lady had been married for approximately six years without any child and God visited her last year with this beautiful daughter whose death was just announced). Feeling so shocked, I went to visit the lady after service, and there, she narrated her sad story to me.

According to her, “after my maternity leave, my husband was of the opinion that I should go with our baby to work, but given my work schedule, I suggested taking her to the crèche, which never went down well with my husband but after series of argument over the issue, he reluctantly agreed. That was how I enrolled our baby in a crèche quite a little bit close to my office with the intention of checking on her frequently”.

“Then on that fateful day, I received an urgent call from my daughter’s school, requesting me to come to the school. I paused, what could be the reason for the urgent call? Then, I took permission from my office and headed to my daughter’s school.

On reaching there, I found out that my baby of less than four months old was dead. It was just like my whole world has come crumbling. In my confusion, I called my husband, after some arguments with the school management over what happened to our baby whom I dropped off earlier at the school, hale and hearty”.

“Wracked by grief and having lost his only child in a controversial circumstance, my husband called for an autopsy of the baby’s body. The autopsy result showed that the baby had been consistently fed a sleeping drug over a period of time. We did not know the crèche was putting the children in their care to sleep with the use of sleeping drugs in order to give the teachers a respite from their regular crying. Over time, the drug was said to have overwhelmed the baby’s system to the extent that she slept in the crèche and never woke up again.”

As we were still talking, a friend who also came to sympathise with her over the loss of her baby came in, and joined in our discussion. This lady is a young petty trader, who witnessed a similar incident in a crèche around her business area in Awka metropolis. She said, “Sometimes, I go from school to school showing my customers new shoes to sell. I went to the crèche to deliver a pair of sandals when I saw a child’s leg tied with a piece of cloth.

“I paused, could this be a form of punishment and wondered why punishment should be meted out on a child of about eight months. But one of the teachers said the child was always crawling outside and almost hit his head on a step. The teacher was so tired of running after the child that she tied one of his legs with a long piece of cloth and attached it to the leg of a chair.” Then, I wondered, could this be a way of taking care of a little child entrusted in your care of which they were paid for?”

Coming to nannies, a nanny is a person who has special training in early childhood development. They are employed to care for a child (or children) on daily basis, whether part time or full time. It’s that dedicated time and care that separates a nanny from a babysitter, who typically takes on a more occasional role. But the question is “are there still good nannies?

Sometime last year, a video went viral, where a nanny who was employed to take care of a little baby was seen maltreating (constant beating, dragging the baby about on the floor, hitting the baby with some kind of object, even to the point of trampling on the baby). But unknown to the nanny, the house had a CCTV camera that monitors the activities in the house. With this, one can imagine what goes on with other nannies.

While these unpleasant tales trend, parents who are not privileged to have grannies look after their toddlers in their absence, are forever left between the devil(risk of having a nanny care for them at home) and the deep-blue sea(leaving them in a daycare centre). Whether you choose a nanny or a crèche, each has its pros and cons.

Whatever the family’s option is, all aspects of the child’s safety should be considered. When choosing crèche as the childcare situation for your family, sit down and make a list of the crèches available to you, tour them, check the environments, the environment might be okay, but what about the workers?

They are also important because they are the people you are going to entrust your child with. Discuss extensively with the management about issues concerning the welfare of your baby; issues like feeding hours, how often they change the baby’s diapers.

At least, make sure they don’t induce the babies to sleep; more especially, check their first aid facilities. Ask questions about all the things you think might put your baby in the harm’s way in the future.

But if you think nanny is the best childcare situation for your family, make proper enquiries about the nanny. Preferably, get a nanny from a registered firm, so that you will be able to hold the firm responsible if anything goes wrong.

A mother who simply identified herself as Uju Menaka said “my baby started developing constant diaper rashes after one week of enrolling her into a certain creche near my office and I spent months switching from one diaper brand to the other, and changing diaper ointment not knowing the real cause of the problem.

She was just four months then. But something told me to change her creche even though this particular one she was into looked a bit clean. I did, and few weeks after, I noticed the rashes had suddenly disappeared. That means she was not changed when she was usually supposed to; maybe unless it was time for me to pick her up.

So I wondered how can someone collect money and promise to render you services even when they know they are too lazy for such jobs. Caring for babies is a challenging job and I believe only people who are competent and humane enough should launch into the business. Not just anybody,”

Mrs Onwudinjo, a banker, in her own contribution said, “When I had crèche age kids, I had some bitter experiences with the crèches I enrolled my kids in. Since I was careful, I found out their lapses on time. Sometimes, you pay for so many things they were to use in taking care of the kids, such as disinfectants (dettol, izzal), toilet wash, tissue, baby soaps, etc, while the workers end up not using those things on the kids when necessary. Most times, my kids lose weight; develop rashes and constantly picking up infections as a result of improper care, because those workers do not use the items they requested for the kids.

Only God knows what became of those items. At a time, I resorted to nannies, but the ugly tales continued. I believe it is only God that keeps these kids for us”.

“Whichever one a family chooses, (nannies or crèches), the watch word should be carefulness and constant monitoring.  If possible, pick your baby up immediately after dismissal; do not opt for extra hours even if you are to pay for that. Examine your baby everyday and ask questions when necessary.  Most importantly, pray for your baby always”.

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