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Day care has been a popular choice for child care for a lot of parents; most people with children have busy lives and need to work in order to provide for their family, so they must leave their children in the care of somebody. Some parents choose different options over day care for their infants including staying home with them themselves, hiring a nanny or babysitter or leaving them with relatives or friends. Day care can be a great choice, but it does have its pros and cons, and finding the right day care for an infant is essential to their development during such an important time of growth.
Infancy is an extremely important period of life that typically lasts from birth through the first twenty four months, or two years old. Some consider all the way up to three years old to be infancy and others consider infancy to only last the first twelve months as well. This time period is the most rapid period of growth in an entire life time and certain things need to go right in order for that infant to develop into a normal, healthy human being. A child will have very clear cognitive, physical and social developmental changes and their environment is crucial to proper development. Leaving your child with someone that does not cater to an infant’s special needs is very dangerous and could lead to detrimental effects later in their life. During the course of the first two years a child builds the foundation for the rest of their lives and absolutely need quality nutrition, health care, tenderness and touch, interaction and newness consistently. Cognitive development is the development of mental processes such as reasoning, memory, conceiving, and symbolization. It is the foundation of the child’s status as a psychological being in this world.
Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget developed the modern theories about cognition in infants, his theory states that infants are born with no mental framework in place and only gradually construct a conceptualization of the world through their experiences with it. During the first two years of life an infant will have dramatic changes to their physical structure as well as their central nervous system. The weight of an infant quadruples by the time they reach two years old and their length typically grows by ¼ of what it was at birth. An infant’s body develops fastest starting at the head followed by the rest of the body progressing downward and the parts closest to the center of the body mature much more quickly than parts further away, such as hands and feet. The physical structure of the brain is also changing during this time, the human brain triples in weight by the time a child reaches three years old. Research has shown that an infant’s experiences shape their brain, in a sense, by preserving active synapses and pruning less active and inactive ones as well.
Freud proposed that all children go through five stages of development, two of them occurring before three years old. He thought that sexuality starts at very young age and is further developed through various fixations. The two that occur in infancy, or the first three years in this case, are the oral and anal stages. In the oral stage, lasting from birth to one year, the libido is focused on the mouth and the pleasure sources are sucking, biting and swallowing. In the anal stage that same pleasure sources are developed through the anus by defecating or retaining feces. People can become trapped in these stages and develop certain defense mechanisms to avoid anxiety from a conflict of each stage. A conflict for the oral stage is being weaned, which prevents sucking and for the oral stage it’s being toilet trained.
An infant gains social development directly through their relationship with caregivers and other people in general. Creating attachments with caregivers is the most important part of an infant’s social development. A great theory that pertains to an infant’s social development stems from Erikson’s original theory and is called John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory. This theory states that there are four phases of attachment, as opposed to Erikson’s single phase, and includes the pre-attachment phase, attachment-in-making phase, clear-cut attachment phase and reciprocal relationships phase. Erikson’s theory stated that there was only a trust versus mistrust stage from birth to twelve months that would determine whether or not the child would develop trust and love for people or mistrust and indifference for people in the future based off their caregiver interactions. Bowlby’s theory shows that there are different degrees of attachment during infancy and each stage has a different significance on the child’s development. A quality nutrition and health care will help to ensure the physical and cognitive development of an infant, if a child is provided the resources they can excel in many areas. Tenderness and touch, along with interaction, will really help in the social and emotional development, and newness in their lives can help with all aspects of development. When a child receives resources in all of these areas everything comes together much more quickly and creates a happier, healthier person.
I chose to visit the La Petite Academy out of Louisville, Colorado to do my day care observation. I chose this day care because I had heard good things about it and checked out the website and liked what I read. I thought that this day care would be the best chance I had at finding a facility to argue that day cares do have developmental advantages. This daycare offers childcare from eight weeks old to twelve years, the children are separated mostly by rooms and in categories. Infants at this facility are children that are from eight weeks old to twelve months old. This academy really puts a value on developmental aspects and really stress on all areas such as physical, cognitive and social areas. Not only do they focus on those three areas but they also stress language development and creativity and the arts as well.
They focus on giving the same level of care that a parent would and really work with the parents of each child to provide extremely customized care. I noticed that each infant wasn’t necessarily on the same schedule; the caregivers did exactly as the parents wished and had a very organized system in doing so. They understand that it is pretty difficult for a parent to leave their child with anyone, especially at such a young age. The program for the infants is even called, “Our Infant Day Care Program: Love and Trust,” which really reinforces that their infant program is great for the crucial period where the child needs to form an attachment with their caregiver to develop properly. They were very quick to change diapers and each child had a specific schedule that was coordinated with each individual parent. All infants were held while they were being fed and never left unattended. Most of the time the infants weren’t crying, but when one would a caregiver would be there immediately and would calm them down. The babies were held very often. The rooms were very stimulating visually and there were all kinds of musical toys with bright lights and similar toys that are fantastic for an infant’s development in more than one area. There were enough cribs for each infant and plenty of supplies in strategic areas of the “classroom.” Most of the time the infants were either sleeping or being played with in some fashion and all the caregivers seemed very able to perform all tasks included in the job well. They all seemed to have training in infants and knew exactly how to provide proper care to them. I was very impressed with this facility; I think that if I were to send my own child to a day care I would pick a place like this.
While La Petite Academy had a very excellent program and facilities, knowing what I do about the importance of development during infancy I have to say that a day care probably wouldn’t be my first choice. This place is top notch as far as any kind of day care goes, but because they have a ratio of one caregiver to five infants, I think that more individualized attention could be beneficial to an infant. When I have children I will probably try to hire a nanny or participate in a nanny share, where children from different families share a nanny. I have decided this for many reasons, the biggest reason being that I believe that five infants need more attention than one person can provide during the day in order to develop at an ideal rate, as per the current Colorado caregiver to child ratio law. Being a nanny myself, I know I have my hands full with two infants, one is fifteen months and the other is eighteen months. I am able to foster their development on an even more individualized level and have developed a very loving relationship with them. There are times when they are both crawling on to my lap and need attention and love that one person wouldn’t be able to provide for more than two children at a time. There are just situations that come all the time that are similar to that. I would just want my infant to be provided that love so they can have that attachment with their caregiver and thrive in all areas of development.
Boyd, D., & Bee H. (2009). Lifespan Development. Pearson Education Inc. : Allyn & Bacon.
Freud, Erikson, and Piget’s Theories and Cognitive, Physical and Social Development of Infants.
The book describes the theories of Freud, Erikson and Piget’s theories of infant development and describes the infant development processes. This book was a great resource for all aspects of this paper and even has an area that mentions how to pick a good daycare for your infant.
Behavior and Development. (2010). Retrieved April 20, 2010 from Zero To Three: National
Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families: http://www.zerotothree.org/child-development.
This website was an excellent tool for identifying the key elements of development in infancy as well as the information about John Bowlby’s attachment theory.
Farley, C. R. (2004). A Brief Overview. Retrieved April 20, 2010 from University of Illinois
Psychology Department: http://www.psych.illinois.edu/~rcfraley/attachment.htm
This website was a good resource for John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory as well as gathering more information about