Luckily everything went well during pregnancy and delivery and now a healthy baby is in the crib! You have probably arranged postnatal care at home. This is nice because the maternity nurse can take many things of your hands and give lots of tips. Do realise that they haven’t had the education to always give you the right advice when it comes to attachment. Many maternity nurses still work with the old fashioned scheme of three aims (in Dutch: the three R’s): Tranquillity, Chastity and Regularity.
In order to quickly establish a daily pattern (regularity) they often advise you to let your baby cry if it is not feeding time yet. A baby doesn’t only cry because he is hungry though. The enormous change of entering the large outside world makes a baby want to go back to the intimate safety of the womb, the daily sound of your voice and the soothing regularity of your heartbeat. So don’t hesitate to hold your child close to your body and cherish it, even when it doesn’t correspond with the time your child is fed.
You do want to organise a baby-shower but don’t want to invite everyone receiving a birth-card? You can create a supplementary sheet. Then everyone receives the same birth-card and only a select group also receives the supplementary sheet with an invitation to the baby-shower.
Make sure the card is clear on what is or isn’t a good time for people to drop by for the maternity-visit.
The amount of milk produced by a mother is based on the demand- and supply principle: The more the baby drinks, the more milk there will be. So, if you want to stimulate the milk production you should give your baby many opportunities to drink. When your baby drinks, your brains receive the signal to produce milk, which in turn starts the milk-producing hormone Prolactin. So the more often you feed, the more prolactin can do its job.
Subsequently the hormone Oxytocin makes sure the milk is being released from your breast. If you are really tense, or if the milk won’t release when extracting milk from the breast, it might seem like you’re out of milk. Thus the milk is there, it just won’t be released. Now just try to relax in order for the hormone to properly do its job.
The first milk being produced is called Colostrum. The colour is yellowish and the liquid is very easily digestible and rich in anti-bodies. By drinking this colostrum the baby is easily released from his first excrement. After a few days the colostrum gradually evolves into ‘real’ mother-milk.
A feeding-cup looks like a small cup, with a broad edge and is made of soft plastic. Cup feeding is used if your baby cannot drink by himself because he is too ill or too small for instance. This way fathers can also (breast) feed their (incubator) baby
When you get back to work you will need day-care for your child. This, of course, can be arranged in many different ways: alternating care days of mother and father, grandparents who look after the baby for a day or friends, but you can also choose to bring your child to a professional day-care centre. A large part of the costs for this is reimbursed by the tax administration. The own contribution of parents has been a hot topic in the media since the recent budget cuts in 2011. But as a parent you actually still pay less than parents in the period until 2004.
If you decide to go for a day-care centre, what should you look for?
Making a good choice is not easy. From the outside it is rarely possible to judge what happens during a day of childcare in whether the quality of care is sufficient. Flashy websites with hardly any to the point information try to convince you that the day-care centre in question offers everything that is good for your child. Then maybe the reports of GGD are valuable? These can be found and read online as well. For a global orientation on quality aspects, such as the proper child-care-taker ratio, Criminal Record Check (VOG), the state of fire-safety etc., these reports definitely are useful. For a well-founded choice based on pedagogic quality, however, it is not very helpful. A day-care centre can fully comply with all hygiene rules, have a parent committee, meet the regulations for the available space, and also have a pedagogic policy, but can nonetheless in practice still approach the children in a pedagogically irresponsible way. So, you need more to go on.
To help you along in your search we will sum up a few key-points to look out for in a day-care centre that does justice to your child as well as your concern for the pedagogic quality.
1. A tour of the premises
Before making a final choice, you should be able to have a look around the day-care centre, receive further information and ask questions.
During such tour, pay attention to the following:
What is the group’s atmosphere like? Is it, without any cause, very noisy (besides the moments that usually are noisy, taking the group outside or coming back in for instance, or preparing for a meal etc.)? Is there a lot of shouting or crying?
Do you see a lot of plastic toys or are there mostly durable toys with a high playing-quality? Is anything explained about their choice of toys?
Does the outdoor playing area look appealing and challenging for children, with a sufficient amount of grass and other green? When playing outside, are the age-differences being kept in mind?
Is there a policy for outdoor playing, with clear instructions for the pedagogic employees about what is expected of them? (e.g. paying attention to the children, not to make small talk with each other)
During the tour, do you mainly receive practical information or are more substantive issues also being addressed? (e.g. an explanation of the pedagogical approaches (what and why) and the way the day-care centre assures this approach is also actually being put into practice)
Are these topics being addressed in knowledgeable way?
Are you offered enough room to speak your mind about any doubts or questions you might have?
2. The pedagogical approach (policy and practice)
Each day-care centre should provide their pedagogic information on their website, but more importantly it should be handed to you during or after the tour. Important indications for the pedagogic quality are as follows:
- Is the approach limited to the schema the GGD uses to test if a day-care centre meets the minimum requirements? Or has some own thought been put in the pedagogic policy?
Is this schema merely enforced or is an explanation given as to why the items from the schema are especially fitting and suitable, and therefore better than the other items or approaches?
Has the importance of secure attachment been given the key-role it deserves? And is explained how this is being realised in practice?
Do they work with real ‘stamgroepen’; a fixed group and room for your child, with regular pedagogic employees, all day long?
Is there a ‘kindvolgsysteem’ in which the development of each child can be followed? What does it look like?
How does the day-care centre guarantee that the pedagogic policy is actually being put into practice? How do they monitor this? Do they know what goes on at the workplace, in the groups?
3. Quality of the pedagogic employees
The ‘Wet kinderopvang’ sets degree-requirements. These, however, don’t say much about the quality of functioning in practice. It thus is very important that a day-care centre shows how they invest in a high quality practice. The following points are examples of what you might want to look out for:
Is there a systematic way to encourage professional development, via internal schooling/training/workshops for instance?
Is there a solid procedure for new employees to get to know the company and its policies?
Are employees periodically and thus at regular intervals assessed?
Are the groups regularly observed and assessed on their functioning?
Is there sufficient supervision by the managers?
Is a pedagogic staff available to help pedagogic employees get started and support them?
Does the day-care centre not shy away from letting employees go who do not meet the demands?
Note: the turnover rate of pedagogic employees is not always an indication that something is wrong with a day-care centre. If dysfunction remains invisible (because of a lack of supervision or inquiry) or if a day-care centre doesn’t dare to let anyone go, the turnover rate is very low but at the same time so is the pedagogic quality! And if pedagogic employees do not want to meet the requirements and therefore leave, it can be a blessing for the day-care centre, even though the turnover rate is a bit higher then. So, be wary of premature conclusions about turnover rates.
For information by the tax administration.
For information about how to quit smokeing.
For information on folic acid.