Being with someone who cares deeply for them, is interested in their development and is attentive to their real needs in a safe environment is the best and healthiest situation for a baby to grow well and learn. Most commonly, this person is the mother, or father if the baby is weaned, at home with the child, if possible for the first three years. In our society, being a stay at home parent is not so common, seemingly impossible with single parents, where parents have careers to manage, and with most families having financial commitments that require two incomes. Many women and men also find the task of homemaking socially isolating and not stimulating enough. It's a complex issue with no clear solution.     

However, being well surrounded and cared for in the first years of life is of great importance for the child. And what to an adult are two or three years, is for a child a lifetime of effects and consequences. It is of utmost importance, in these first years, who cares for the child on an everyday basis. 

How can we say that a full-time mother is not working?

Is caring for a child “playing?”

And how did the most important job in  our culture

– the duty of raising future generations 

- get granted such a low status? Peggy O’Mara[1]


In each case, it may be good to examine financial and logistical possibilities that would allow the child to be at home with his mother or father as much as possible, or with grandparents other family or friends. Sometimes it's possible to arrange part-time work for those first years. 

If this isn't possible, if day care is the only option, finding someone who has a day care in their home and has only a few other children under their care is a good solution. This allows the child to build a trusted, secure connection with them in a warm setting. Or look for a non-for-profit day care with few children. Ask what activities they do, where they play outside, see what toys they have, what the space is like, ask what the children are fed, what the philosophy or mandate is.

See How to make decisions

The negative effects of media


Caring for a sick child - the mother's love - zur Linden

Playing with baby by Albert Neuhuys

Quietude 1891 by Mary Cassat