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What are the advantages of having a relative care for my child?
One of the most compelling reasons to have a relative care for your child is peace of mind. Since your caregiver is family, you can be pretty sure that she is genuinely interested in your baby’s health, happiness, and well-being. With relatives, you also have the advantage of knowing a lot about your caregiver's past and their personal habits.
Being at home is another advantage – you can be sure your little one is in a comforting, familiar environment.
Plus, you get the ultimate caregiver-to-child ratio: 1:1. Even if your relative is caring for more than one of your kids, the ratio is likely to be much lower than at a daycare. With fewer kids around, your child will get more attention and also be less likely to get sick as often.
Family care is oftentimes more affordable as well. While most parents who use relatives offer some compensation, it usually doesn't come close to the price tags of other forms of childcare.
What are the disadvantages?
Relative care isn’t necessarily for everyone. Before you decide to have a family member watch your child, consider this:
Some relatives may feel they know more about raising children than you do, and they'll ignore your instructions on things like feeding, discipline, and sleep. This could confuse your child and end up hurting your relationship with your relative. To avoid this, set up clear lines of communication and establish ground rules from the start.
There can also be tension over payment. For example, you may offer your family member money because you feel you'd be taking advantage of her time. Meanwhile, she turns down your offer, but secretly wants to be compensated.
And whether you pay your relative or not, you may end up feeling deeply indebted to her, which can be awkward and may result in you being less likely to stand up for your childrearing beliefs.
Also consider the potential caregiver’s physical fitness. For example, an older relative may have more than enough stamina to care for an infant, but a running, jumping, exploring toddler may be a different story.
"Lauren started walking when she was 8 months old, so by the time she was 14 months, she was hard to keep up with, especially for her 62-year-old grandmother," says Christine Harrison, a our site mom, who eventually found a different childcare solution.
Most childcare programs introduce kids to a variety of activities, in addition to socialization with their peers. Will the family member who is watching your little one take your child on outings and playdates? How important is this to you?
Finally, relative care is not regulated or licensed by any government agency or association. That means you have to really trust your caregiver – to make sure your child's environment is safe, clean, and nurturing.