Have you ever looked down at your new baby and realized their fragility? When you hold your infant in your arms, it is so easy to understand how much they need your careful attention. Even the slightest bump could cause serious harm.
How do you trust someone else with that responsibility when you go back to work?
Whether your decision to go back to work is by need or desire, it can be extremely stressful or even frightening to leave your precious newborn at a daycare. With 71.5% of mothers with minor children in the workforce, you are certainly not alone.
Knowing the rules may help ease your mind
One of the most common experiences for new moms is learning everything there is to know about child safety. There is a good chance that you’ve either had conversations with your pediatrician, family or friends or read “mommy blogs” about when and at what age certain things are safe. You most likely found that opinions differ… greatly.
The good news is that while parents have the right to make many of these decisions for their child without legal interference, Alabama law doesn’t give daycare provides the same discretion.
Here are just a few of the guidelines for infant care:
- Infant to staff ratios: There must be one staff member per five infants (infants aged 0-18 months).
- Safe diaper-changing: The law requires providers to pay attention to infants during every diaper change, never leaving them alone on the table. They must also ensure that they address every wet or soiled diaper promptly.
- Hygienic diaper-changing: Diapers are necessary but dirty, and failure to keep proper hygiene can lead to the spread of illness from common cold to serious ailments. Provides must use disposable gloves and wash their hands and dry them with disposable towels after every change. The station cannot be near any food-prep/storage areas and must have a plastic-lined surface that providers wash after every change.
- Naps: Until they are at least 12 months old, providers cannot give children blankets, teddy bears or other comfort objects during sleep. The law also prohibits them from using bumpers or letting children sleep on soft surfaces, such as a couch or even a mattress that is not firm enough.
- Tummy time: Infants need to spend time on their stomachs to help develop the muscles in their neck necessary to hold their heads up and help prevent them from getting a flat head. Providers must give children under one years old tummy time each day.
- Food: Providers must give infants breast milk/formula as directed by the parent and ensure that it is labeled with the child’s, but it might surprise you to learn that parents must mix the formula for the provider.
- Pickup: The law prohibits anyone other than the parent/guardian from picking up the child without written consent.
These rules are not a secret, and nor should they be. You can learn more about daycare licensing and rules on the Alabama Department of Human Resources.