From the day you become a parent, you begin to have questions. “Is my child growing normally?” “Am I feeding my child correctly?” “How can I foster their learning?” The questions persist and even become more complex with time. This series will help address many common parenting questions.
Parenting and child development writer Amy Webb, Ph.D., will be your guide as we explore these questions asked by real parents who probably face many of the same struggles as you. Fellow parents submitted these questions via social media platforms. Although there is not usually one simple answer to individual parenting questions (every family is unique), we will use the latest research and expert advice to address these concerns.
This question, while deeply relevant to millions of parents across the globe, is, as you might imagine, very difficult to answer. Since dual-working parents began to be a more common trend in the 1970s (at least in the United States), scientists have gathered large amounts of data to try to answer this question.
Here’s an overview of what we know from hundreds of scientific studies⏤full-time daycare does not seem to be linked to any negative developmental outcomes for children, unless the quality of the daycare is low.1 That being said, there are a few caveats to this finding. For example, infants who begin daycare in the first year of life and spend more than 10 hours a week in daycare may be at higher risk of not developing a strong attachment to their mother.1
The key issue from the bulk of the research is that quality really matters when it comes to daycare and its influence on children. Children who experience a low-quality daycare setting are at a higher risk for developing behavior problems later in life.1 This brings up the obvious question of how low-quality daycare is defined. In general, low-quality care means that the interactions between the staff and the children do not have a tone of care and responsiveness. Caring for young children requires a great deal of patience, responsiveness, and attunement to the children’s needs. If the staff-to-child ratios are too high or the staff are not well trained in interacting with children, this type of caregiving may not occur. Additionally, factors such as lack of cognitively stimulating activities for the children, unhealthy eating options, or a lack of cleanliness of the facility can contribute to a low-quality standing.
The choice of whether or not to utilize daycare is very unique to each family’s needs and circumstances. It’s helpful to keep in mind that any childcare arrangement is not the only factor that influences a child’s development. An almost endless list of factors play into how a child develops⏤genetics, family environment, childcare, school, siblings, peers, etc. All of these factors combine to influence aspects of children’s development. Understanding what the research shows regarding daycare can offer you one more piece of valuable information as you make decisions for your child’s care.
The information provided on this site is NOT medical advice and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, provide medical or behavioral advice, treat, prevent, or cure any disease, condition, or behavior. You should consult with a qualified healthcare professional regarding your child’s development to make a medical diagnosis, determine a treatment for a medical condition, or obtain other related advice.
- Shpancer, N. (2020) The Deal With Daycare: What Do the Data Denote? Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/insight-therapy/202002/the-deal-daycare-what-do-the-data-denote