Thinking of putting your child in infant care or child care but feeling lost? This article is for you.
When our child was conceived, we intended for my mother in law to be the main caregiver during office hours. Hence, we did not do research on infant care. However, when Baby E was born, it was evident that my mother in law would not be able to care for Baby E due to old age. Thus the scramble for infant care facilities began. Believe it or not, it was very difficult to find an infant care near our house. The waiting list was so long that one centre I called advised us to look elsewhere because the waiting list was so long that we would have to wait till 2 years later for possible admission. In any case, I digress. Just to share, these are some of the main things you will need to know if you intend to put your child in infant care or child care:
1. Admissions: You can start queuing 1 year in advance, so start queuing for infant care once your child is conceived if you intend to put him/her in infant care before going back to work. Registration of interest can be done at the ECDA website.
2. Appropriate age: Infant care takes in infants of age 2 to 18 months. Child care takes in children from 19 months to 6 years old. Some centres may not offer infant care services, so do a search on the ECDA website.
3. What to look out for: There is no way for you to really determine if a centre is good or bad, in my opinion, until your child is really in there. However, this was what I did or tried to do when trying to decide on a centre for my child.
- Look for one with SPARK certification. Pinch of salt…but at least they have to get their processes in order in order to get the certification.
- Try to obtain feedback from parents with children who are enrolled. Easier said than done… I couldn’t find any parents back then. There are facebook groups such as Childcare Singapore that you can sign up for and try to obtain feedback.
- Do surprise visits. You can ask the centre to allow you to go in to have a look (though some centres with long queue may not allow it). Apart from that, you can also pop by and peep in at random hours to see what happens when no parents are visiting. Observe whether children are happy at the school. This is easier when sourcing for a child care and harder for infant care because infants don’t talk or have much expressions.
- When visiting the child care, ask for a copy of the schedule so that you have an idea of what your child will be doing everyday. Also, check their menu if you are strict about your child’s diet. Some schools allow you to send the child to school with lunch boxes but some don’t. If you intend to breast feed past 18 months, check that the centre allow breast milk feeds at the child care, because our child’s child care does not allow it, citing the fact that they do not have facilities to store the milk safely.
- After your child has enrolled, always observe him/her for injuries or changes in behaviour for a gauge of how your child is doing in school. Refusal to go to school is a red flag to us that our child may not be happy in school.
4. Fees: There is a wide range of fees depending on whether you enrol your child in a government facility or private facility. Sparkletots and My First Skool are lower in terms of fees while brands such as MindChamps are pricier. Even among Sparkletots outlets, prices differ, so check the ECDA website. Just for a sense of pricing, a general Sparkletots infant care cost about $1,800 ($1,200 for Singapore citizens after the $600 government subsidy for families with working mums) while a child care cost about $700 ($400 for Singapore citizens after the $300 government subsidy for families with working mums). The MindChamps childcare that we went to recently cost $1,900 ($1,600 after subsidy for Singapore citizens). That is your guide for how wide the range for fees can be. That said, MindChamp’s selling point is that all enrichment classes are included while for Sparkletots and My First Skool, you got to opt in for enrichment classes which then involves additional fees.
5. Enrolment procedures: After the infant care called us to inform that there is a vacancy for our child, we dropped by for a tour at the infant care, then went to the centre’s office to fill in forms and paid a deposit to enrol. We then received a guide for parents with children in childcare, along with a pack list for things to bring daily (this differs from centres to centre. The first centre we enrolled at did not give pack list while the second did). We were then advised that for the first 3 days, we should bring the child in on half days for him/her to get used to things.
6. Sample pack list for infant care: From memory, our pack list for infant care included:
- 3 sets of clothing (long sleeved shirts, pants and socks for those with air conditioned infant care)
- 3 servings of milk feeds (breast milk or formula)
- 2 milk bottles
- 1 Towel
- 2 Wash cloths
- 2 cloth bibs
- 6 diapers
- 1 plastic bag for dirty laundry
7. Sample pack list for child care: Our pack list for child care include:
- 1 spare set of school uniform
- 1 spare set of home clothing
- 1 serving of milk powder
- 1 milk bottle
- 1 Towel
- 5 diapers (replaced by 2 underwear and 1 diaper for naps after our child got toilet trained)
- 1 plastic bag for dirty laundry
8. Good to knows:
- Your child will fall sick very often initially. Our child fell ill every 2 weeks previously, then slowly it became every month. It is slightly better now but I’ve had to spam her with Sambucol and Vitamin C gummies daily.
- Every centre has different practices so it will take some getting used to for parent, child and teacher. Always communicate with the teachers about your preferences instead of going direct to the principal to complain. For us, we always give the teacher second or third chances depending on how serious the issue is. These days, we are also particularly understanding towards bumps and falls because our child is super active.
Hope this helps!
Useful information can also be found at https://www.childcarelink.gov.sg/ccls/home/CCLS_HomePublications.jsp