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Nanny, sitter or day care: Choosing child care

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Many parents in today's world have to work full-time to provide for their family. Whether you're a one-income family or a two-income family, you will probably need child care resources.

Some families find child care using Care.com or other web-based child care groups. Other families prefer finding local child care by asking friends for references.

Regardless of the type of child care you use, it's important to treat your child care provider as a member of the family. Kids want and need to bond with the person providing care for them.

Provide opportunities for your children and their care provider to spend time together and include your child care provider at special activities and events.

You'll find more tips for helping your kids bond with their nanny, babysitter or child care provider in this blog post on HireANanny.org.

There are pluses and minuses to every form of child care. Some families prefer unpaid child care provided by a relative or friend. Other families join a child care coop, where members earn points by caring for one another's children.

Many families choose paid child care for a variety of reasons. There may not be extended family members nearby or all relatives may work full-time.

You may want your provide your child opportunities to interact with other children. Perhaps you prefer a family child care home, a nanny who comes to your home or a part-time sitter for extra help or date nights.

If you work from home or travel for work, you may want to consider a mother's helper or nanny. Nannies may live in your home or come to your home on a daily or as-needed basis. Having another person in your home while you work can be challenging, but very effective.

You can finish your work faster with a loving child care provider seeing to your children's needs, but can stop to eat lunch together or enjoy an activity.

It's important to establish guidelines and to work together with your child care provider to make this arrangement work for all involved.

Who will the children come to if they need help? Whose responsibility is meal preparation? Are there set hours or do you prefer a flexible schedule? Put everything in writing and there will be less chance of conflicts.

A family child care home is the choice of many families. Instead of a nanny or child care provider coming to your home, you bring your child to someone else's home.

Most family child care providers love kids and have many activities and resources planned. Do your homework by checking to be sure that the child care home is licensed and check referrals.

A child care center is the choice for some families. Although your child receives less one-on-one time, child care centers provide opportunities for indoor and outdoor play and many learning activities.

Your child will make new friends and enjoy time with other children while learning letters, numbers, colors and other basic preschool skills.

A child care coop works well if you have several friends whose children are also friends. You can find resources to help set up a child care coop at BabysittingCoop.com.

Regardless of your child care needs, there's a lot to consider when choosing a child care provider. Make sure that you find a comfortable fit for your children with someone who shares your family's values and your children will thrive.

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