After spending your entire maternity leave oohing and ahhing over every move your beautiful little baby makes, the inevitable arrives: you have to return to work. For many new mamas, the thought of sending your wee one to daycare can feel as major as packing her up for college. What will she do there? Who will she meet? What if she comes home with pierced ears and a baby tattoo?
If you find the right daycare, though, the experience can serve as so much more than a babysitting service while you navigate your 9-5. Many of the programs in New York City truly benefit your baby for years to come, thanks to a focus on education and socialization in addition to nurturing.
Bright Horizons daycare is one of those programs. Started by a husband and wife three decades ago, the company now runs more than 700 centers across the country (including nearly a dozen in New York City), staffed with bright and committed employees, and stocked with the latest and greatest in technology and equipment. “The infants that come to Bright Horizons learn to socialize and self-soothe in a different way than a child being cared for one-on-one,” explains Amy Beth Gabert, Bright Horizons’ regional manager for New York City. She highlights the center’s three-pronged approach to teach infants how to problem solve, think critically and have a positive sense of self, but notes that the “biggest piece” is socialization. “To be socialized is such a huge and important skill, and infancy is the time to establish that.”
Take a look at what our Well Rounded NY Baby Insider has to tell us about his day at one of Bright Horizons daycare's impressive New York City centers.
7 a.m.: Mama just dropped me off. I cried for a few minutes, because that’s what us babies do, then hung out with my seven baby buddies that share the nursery with me.
8 a.m.: The nursery reminds me of my room at home, with cool mobiles and decorations and lots of soft places to lay and stare at the ceiling. They make me do tummy time just like mama, which I seriously dislike. What do I need all this neck strength for? Then I zone out to the soothing music, alternating staring into space and snoozing.
9 a.m.: The two teachers in the nursery take turns feeding me and my baby buddies. Then I hit one of the cribs for my morning nap. Some of my baby buddies play while I get my beauty rest, and my teachers understand that we babies all have different internal clocks.
10:30 a.m.: Wake up, diaper change, then time for playing! Yesterday we did some weird science, touching ice cubes for a crazy sensory experience, and the day before I practiced my math skills by watching the teachers stack some cups. Today is music -- I can’t wait to get my drooly mouth all over that crazy shaker egg.
12 p.m.: Mmmm, lunch. I sometimes wish my teacher would give me baby Annie’s bottle since I’d really like to taste Earth's Best soy formula, but they’ve got all these strict rules and procedures about making sure we only get our own bottles. Same goes with diapers; such a bummer since that Elliott is always showing off his cool Honest pairs.
1 p.m.: Nap again! Phew, it’s hard working doing this baby thing.
2:30 p.m.: Out for a walk around lower Manhattan in the baby buggies. I love watching all the serious people in suits and flirting with the cute baby gals out walking with their nannies. They look so lonely without other babies to hang around!
3:30 p.m.: Snack time! Come on, let me try that soy! Please??
4:30 p.m.: Gym class! I keep on trying to grab that soft, colorful owl hanging above me and it keeps slipping through my fingers. Come on, little owl, come to baby. Oh, so tired. I think I’ll just go to sleep here on this activity mat.
6 p.m.: Time to go home. Mama gets my personal checklist from the teacher, so she knows how many times I pooped today (seriously embarrassing) and whether I’m hitting my baby milestones (sitting upright is my next big goal, wish me luck!). Wait, Mama, before we leave, can you check out those Honest diapers, please? See you hot babes tomorrow!