What Are the Effects of Child Care vs. Home Care on Infants?


For working parents, utilizing child care isn't optional. There have been many studies conducted to determine how child care affects the social, cognitive and emotional development of infants as compared to home care. While there are both benefits and drawbacks associated with placing your child in day care, selecting a high-quality day care can help reduce the potential harmful effects.

The Primary Bond

  • During their first year of life, infants develop a strong attachment to their primary caregiver. Opponents of day-care facilities for infants argue that placing an infant in the care of a professional for more than 20 hours a week can disrupt the establishment of this primary bond, which serves as a foundation for the development of secondary relationships throughout the child's life. Children who were placed in child care during their infancy are less likely to develop secure bonds with their peers and others during their lives and are also more prone to behavioral problems, according to Dr. Jay Belsky, professor of human development at Pennsylvania State University.


  • During your baby's first year, he absorbs a lot of information about the world. If he is in child care for more than 20 hours a week, he is being exposed to information he would not receive at home, from both caregivers and other children. This information generally produces positive effects later in life. For instance, infants placed in day care are exposed more quickly to language and have been found to develop larger vocabularies than infants cared for at home. Similarly, children place in high-quality day care as infants have achieved higher grades and better test scores, according to "Psychology Today."


  • While infants placed in high-quality day care develop better social skills than their peers through their first five years, these social skills seem to diminish as the children grow older, resulting in behavioral problems, aggression and a larger number of conflicts with teachers, parents and peers. Additionally, children who spent more time in day care as infants had poorer work habits in elementary school and had more difficulty working independently and completing their work on time, reports "Psychology Today."


  • Because day-care facilities care for many children at once, the health of your child can become more of a problem than with home care. Children are notorious germ communicators due to an unfamiliarity with personal care procedures and a lack of enforcement. These germs can easily spread by contact with the shared toys and surfaces and close quarters of a day-care setting. Placing your child in a high-quality day-care facility with a strictly enforced hygiene policy can help prevent health issues.


  • Photo Credit Rayes/Lifesize/Getty Images
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