How To Choose The Right Infant Care Centre For Your Child
Deciding on the right infant care for your child can be challenging, especially if you’re a first-time parent, and you have to take into account all factors such as distance of the childcare from your house, the cost, the quality of facilities and of course, the teaching style. So how does one begin to decide where to send their little bubba? It's important to note that infant care centres in Singapore take in children from as young as two months old to 18 months, and can offer half-day and full day care programmes to cater to the different requirements of working parents.
Read on for some helpful tips for choosing the right infant care centre for your child:
1. Is the centre licensed and accredited?
All childcare centres in Singapore are licensed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development, under the Child Care Centres Act (Cap 37A) and Regulations, and are required to be licensed and registered with the relevant government agency. Also consider how long the centre has been in operation (the longer the duration, the more trustworthy it is).
Then check if the centre has passed the Singapore Preschool Accreditation Framework (SPARK) assessment? SPARK is a quality assurance framework to assist Singapore pre-schools in raising their quality and enhancing the holistic development and well-being of young children, and serves as a benchmark for pre-schools to measure themselves against, so always choose a SPARK certified centre.
2. Look at the location and cost
It’s always helpful if the infant care centre is conveniently located and easily accessible from either your home or workplace. It’s no fun having to rush out of your way on a daily basis to drop off your child while trying to get to work on time; and likewise, the sooner you pick up your child after work, the better off everyone will be. Of course, the cost will also play a role in choosing the infant care centre, so check if you are eligible for any subsidies. For example, as outlined by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), Singaporean children with working mothers can receive a subsidy of up to $600 on monthly school fees, while non-working mothers receive a $150 subsidy.
3. Do you like the environment of the infant care centre?
The environment that your child is in plays a huge role in his / her development, so choosing an infant care centre that provides the appropriate care and stimulation is crucial for such a young age. A good centre should be warm, friendly and safe, with values and beliefs that are ideally similar to yours, so make sure you visit as many centres as possible (much like house-hunting), to determine which one might be the right fit for you and your family. Does the centre look clean and hygienic (especially the cots where the infants will nap); and are there appropriate learning materials to provide the right kind of stimulation to the babies, allowing them to develop their motor skills and senses? Finally, confirm if are there enough qualified caregivers to look after all the children (ECDA recommends a ratio of 1 educarer for every 5 children). A smaller ratio means that the caregiver will have more time to attend to your child’s needs and the child will likely be looked after a little better.
4. Is there a curriculum offered at the infant care centre?
The best infant care curriculum encourages curiosity and provides opportunities for babies to explore and learn from. There are four types of infant care programs in Singapore to choose from: relationship-based, play-based, Montessori-based, or whole-brain learning:
i. Relationship-based care – helps a child to learn how to relate with adults, other children and also how to connect with the environment.
ii. Play-based care – children are involved more in playing experiences and exploring through sensorial activities.
iii. Montessori-based care – emphasises the child’s individuality and independence, to set the foundation for independent and self-driven individuals with spontaneous thinking.
iv. Whole-brain learning – maximises every learning opportunity. Every child’s needs are met, and they get sufficient individual attention from the educarer.
5. Enquire about the meals and feeds for your baby
Is the centre able to cater to your baby’s dietary needs? Your baby is only going to survive on milk for the first six months of his or her life, so find out the infant care centre’s approach to formula milk preparation. If you are going to be supplying your expressed breast milk for your child, do ensure that the centre is equipped to refrigerate and take care of the milk until feeding time.
If your child is older than six months and is already on solid foods, check the meal plans that are offered to the infants, and the ensuing nutritional value of the food.