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Sites like Care.com don’t screen childcare providers, but here’s how parents can

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Whether you're looking for a day care provider, a nanny or just a casual babysitter so you can have a date night, finding and vetting quality childcare can be really hard. Parents put a lot of trust in word of mouth, and online marketplaces like Care.com, but as the Wall Street Journal reports, sites which list childcare providers don't always vet them or run background checks. In the end, that's up to us parents.

In a statement to Motherly a Care.com spokesperson explains "we do not currently run preliminary screens on the care businesses listed on our site but have made the existing notice about that more prominent," and that Care.com is exploring solutions to verify the identities of users posting on the site. The company has recently changed its process for approving and managing individual caregiver profiles. As of this writing, newly enrolling caregivers are able to prepare applications to jobs and complete their profiles, but Care.com isn't releasing any applications or messages from new caregivers on the site until the new preliminary screening processes are complete.

Care.com recommends parents confirm the personal information of potential candidates found on Care.com, interview them and run a background check, noting that it is "a process that takes time, thoughtfulness and rigor."

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So here's what parents need to do when hiring a childcare provider:

1) Do Google and social media searches first

Google the name of any day care center, day home provider or babysitter you are considering and see what comes up. If the day care made the news due to an abuse claim or other problematic situation you might want not even want to continue looking into them and can just scratch them off your list.

If you're considering a day home provider, look not only at the social media accounts for their business but also at any public social media accounts for any adult living in the home.

2) Verify any claims about licenses

It's unfortunate, but sometimes day care providers will create online listings stating that their day home or day care center is licensed by the state when it, in fact, is not. The process for checking on a provider's licensing depends on what state you're in.

According to Child Care Aware, "in some states, parents can view inspection reports online. In other states, parents must contact their local licensing office for that information."

To check if your state lists the inspection reports online, check out the Child Care Aware resources map and click on your state.

3) Ask about safe sleep practices

Day homes and day cares should never be putting children down for naps in strollers, swings or car seats, but unfortunately this does happen frequently and can lead to tragic consequences.

Parents should ask questions about where and how babies and children nap at a day care or day home. Babies should be sleeping in a firm crib, bassinet, or Pack n' Play that meets the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the American Academy of Pediatrics notes. There should be nothing in the crib with them.

Toddlers and preschoolers should be napping on safe, low surfaces (like cots). In center-based care settings a staff member should be supervising napping children at all times.

Day care centers or day homes should be able to show you where and how the children nap. If they don't want to, that's a big red flag.

4) Criminal reference checks

Any adult who is present in a childcare setting should have passed a criminal background check. For center-based care, ask how the center checks the backgrounds of all staff members, from early childhood educators to janitors and kitchen staff. Day care centers should be running comprehensive background checks on all employees who have access to the building.

For home-based care, any adult living in the home should have a recent criminal background check available for parents to see. This includes the spouse of the caregiver and any adult children living in the home.

If you're hiring a nanny or babysitter, they too should have a recent criminal record check from the local police service handy. If they don't have a current copy, they should be comfortable with you requesting they provide a new one.

5) Ask about supervision ratios (and make sure they're accurate)

When we're talking about infant care, an adult should only be caring for about four babies at a time. Child Care Aware recommends centers align with the following best practices, and ensure workers are always within sight of each other so that no one worker is never alone with the kids.

  • For babies 0-12 months: 3-4 children per caregiver, max group size of 8 children
  • For babies 13-23 months: 4 children per caregiver, max group size of 8 children
  • For 2-year-olds: 4-6 children per caregiver, max group size of 12 children
  • For 3-year-olds: 7-9 children per caregiver, max group size of 18 children
  • For 4 and 5-year-olds: 8-10 children per caregiver, max group size of 20 children
  • For 6 to 8-year-olds: 10 children per caregiver, max group size of 20 children
  • For 9 to 12-year-olds: 12 children per caregiver, max group size of 24 children

6) Ask about health and safety practices

If vaccinations are a concern for you, ask if your care provider accepts staff and children who are not vaccinated so you can find care that aligns with your beliefs. Center-based daycares should be able to show you where the first aid kits are kept and how many staff members (all of them, ideally) have been recently certified in First Aid and CPR. There should be policies regarding the storage and dosing of medication for children.

Home-based care providers should also be certified in CPR and First aid and be able to show you where medications are stored (out of reach of children) and how they make sure medications and doses do not get mixed up.

In both center-based and home-based care, exterior doors should be locked at all times.

Bottom line: Parents need to be detectives

When choosing a center or individual to care for your child, it's important to ask as many questions as you have. It's not rude, it's just our jobs as mamas. Ask about curriculum, discipline, nutrition and don't be afraid to follow up.

Ali Dodd is the founder of Shepard's Watch, a community dedicated to advocating for safe child care. Dodd lost her infant son Shepard four years ago when his day care provider put him down for a nap in a car seat and he asphyxiated (it should have been a flat crib, as per the AAP). As Dodd recently told Fox 25 News in Oklahoma, parents should never be afraid to ask questions of a potential or current child care provider.

"It feels like, by you bringing this up, you may be rubbing your provider in the wrong way or you're communicating to them that you don't trust them. But a good provider would never feel that way. Ever," she explains.

"If parents have to be a detective I want them to know how to do that. It's the most important thing to do before putting your child in day care while you're at work," says Dodd.

Dodd suggests that parents don't just do background checks when enrolling in child care, but also periodically as your child remains in care. "I would set an alert on your phone if you're using a home or center. Put a recurring alert because you won't know until you check. And no one is going to tell you," she explains.

If you live in a state where inspection reports are online, it's pretty easy to take a peek every few months.

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If there's one thing you learn as a new mama, it's that routine is your friend. Routine keeps your world spinning, even when you're trucking along on less than four hours of sleep. Routine fends off tantrums by making sure bellies are always full and errands aren't run when everyone's patience is wearing thin. And routine means naps are taken when they're supposed to, helping everyone get through the day with needed breaks.

The only problem? Life doesn't always go perfectly with the routine. When my daughter was born, I realized quickly that, while her naps were the key to a successful (and nearly tear-free!) day, living my life according to her nap schedule wasn't always possible. There were groceries to fetch, dry cleaning to pick up, and―if I wanted to maintain any kind of social life―lunch dates with friends to enjoy.

Which is why the Ergobaby Metro Compact City Stroller was such a life-saver. While I loved that it was just 14 pounds (perfect for hoisting up the stairs to the subway or in the park) and folds down small enough to fit in an airplane overhead compartment (you know, when I'm brave enough to travel again!), the real genius of this pint-sized powerhouse is that it doesn't skimp on comfort.

Nearly every surface your baby touches is padded with plush cushions to provide side and lumbar support to everything from their sweet head to their tiny tush―it has 40% more padding than other compact strollers. When nap time rolls around, I could simply switch the seat to its reclined position with an adjustable leg rest to create an instant cozy nest for my little one.

There's even a large UV 50 sun canopy to throw a little shade on those sleepy eyes. And my baby wasn't the only one benefiting from the comfortable design― the Metro is the only stroller certified "back healthy" by the AGR of Germany, meaning mamas get a much-needed break too.

I also appreciate how the Metro fits comfortably into my life. The sleek profile fits through narrow store aisles as easily as it slides up to a table when I'm able to meet a pal for brunch. Plus, the spring suspension means the tires absorb any bumps along our way―helping baby stay asleep no matter where life takes us. When it's time to take my daughter out, it folds easily with one hand and has an ergonomic carry handle to travel anywhere we want to go.

Life will probably never be as predictable as I'd like, but at least with our Metro stroller, I know my child will be cradled with care no matter what crosses our path.

This article is sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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The series is coming to an end but the names George R. R. Martin gave his characters will live on in the classrooms and on the playgrounds of America.

As we mentioned last week, Game of Thrones inspired baby names graced the birth certificates of thousands of babies born in the United States in 2028. It's no surprise that a popular show influenced parents, but what is surprising is that parents of girls are more likely to choose a GoT name.

When you take Jamie and Jon out of the equation (because they were always popular way before GoT) the most popular names inspired by the show belong to two strong women: Arya and the Kahlessi.

As NBC data journalist Joe Murphy first reported, Arya is the most popular Game of Thrones inspired name in America, belonging to 2545 girls in 2018. There were not nearly as many little babies named Daenarys, but her Dothraki title, Khaleesi, comes in second place with 560 baby girls taking that one. There are also 19 girls called Caleesi and 5 little Khaleesies who got an extra 'e'.

As the New York Times reports, as a name, 'Khaleesi' is more popular than other major pop-culture characters, like Hermoine or Katniss or Tris. Those names never made it into the Social Security Administrations top 1,000 baby names, but in 2017 Khaleesi was ranked 630th and in 2018 it was the 549th most popular baby girl name.

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That's hundreds of spots higher than the name Brittany (or Britney) or even some more modern, trendy names like Ensley. It's also way, way higher Sansa, which was only given to 29 girls in 2018.

Even abroad, Khaleesi is a Queen when it comes to baby names. According to the New York Times, it's on the rise in the UK and Scotland, where several parents have created hyphenated versions, including Khaleesi-Destiny, Khaleesi-Grace, and Khaleesi-Marie.

Tonight the on-screen Khaleesi will meet her fate, but no matter what happens to the Mother of Dragons, plenty of moms have ensured this pop culture icon will live on.

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Plenty of modern motherhood paraphernalia was made to be seen—think breastfeeding pillows that seamlessly blend into living room decor or diaper bags that look like stylish purses. The breast pump though, usually isn't on that list.

It's traditionally been used in the privacy of our homes and hotel rooms in the best case scenarios, and in storage closets and restrooms in the worst circumstances. For a product that is very often used by mothers because they need to be in public spaces (like work and school), the breast pump lives a very private life.

Thankfully, some high profile moms are changing that by posting their pump pics on Instagram. These influential mamas aren't gonna hide while they pump, and may change the way the world (and product designers) see this necessary accessory.

Amy Schumer

Schumer has been super real about the realities of postpartum life since welcoming her son into the world and there is nothing more real than hashtagging your pump pic #ootd, because we know that for new moms sometimes this really is your "outfit of the day."

We're thankful to these women for showing that breast pumps belong in public and in our Instagram feeds.

[This post was originally published on May 31, 2018, but has been updated to include recent Instagram posts.]

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After quite a wait (he was born last week) Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have finally revealed their baby boy's name and it isn't what the internet was expecting.

While Kim had previously hinted at the name Robert, after her late father and her brother, the couple went with a name that makes sense given Kanye's new Sunday Services.

Baby number four for the Kardashian-Wests is called Psalm West, his mom announced via Instagram.

Psalm is the fourth child for Kim and Kanye, who are already raising 5-year-old North, 3-year-old Saint and 1-year-old Chicago.

Welcome to the family Psalm!

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Mornings can be so rough making sure everyone has what they need for the day and managing to get out the door on time. A recent survey by Indeed found that 60% of new moms say managing a morning routine is a significant challenge, and another new survey reveals just why that is.

The survey, by snack brand Nutri-Grain, suggests that all the various tasks and child herding parents take on when getting the family out the door in the morning adds up to basically an extra workday every week!

Many parents will tell you that it can take a couple of hours to get out of the house each morning person, and as the survey found, most of us need to remind the kids "at least twice in the morning to get dressed, brush their teeth, or put on their shoes."

According to Nutri-Grain, by the end of the school year, the average parent will have asked their children to hurry up almost 540 times across the weekday mornings.

We totally get it. It's hard to wait on little ones when we have a very grown-up schedule to get on with, but maybe the world needs to realize that kids just aren't made to be fast.

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As Rachel Macy Stafford, the author of Hands Free Mama, Hands Free Life, writes, having a child who wants to enjoy and marvel at the world while mama is trying to rush through it is hard.

"Whenever my child caused me to deviate from my master schedule, I thought to myself, 'We don't have time for this.' Consequently, the two words I most commonly spoke to my little lover of life were: 'Hurry up.'" she explains.

We're always telling our kids to hurry up, but maybe, maybe, we should be telling ourselves—and society—to slow down.

That's what Stafford did. She took "hurry up" out of her vocabulary and in doing so made that extra workday worth of time into quality time with her daughter, instead of crunch time. She worked on her patience, and let her daughter marvel at the world or slow down when she had to.

"To help us both, I began giving her a little more time to prepare if we had to go somewhere. And sometimes, even then, we were still late. Those were the times I assured myself that I will be late only for a few years, if that, while she is young."

It's great advice, but unless we mamas can get the wider world on board, it's hard to put into practice. When the school bus comes at 7:30 am and you've gotta be at the office at 8 am, when the emails start coming before you're out of bed or your pay gets docked if you punch in five minutes late, it is hard to slow down.

So to those who are making the schedules the rest of us have to live by, to the employers and the school boards and the wider culture, we ask: Can we slow down?

Indeed's survey suggests that the majority of moms would benefit from a more flexible start time at work and the CDC suggests that starting school later would help students.

Mornings are tough for parents, but they don't have to be as hard as they are.

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