In Singapore, infant care centres offer educare services to newborns from 2 months old till 18 months old. It is an option for working parents who are unable to look after their infants during the day.
Making the decision of sending your baby to an infant care centre is the first big step forward. The second decision that requires some prior research is determining which is the “best”infant care centre in Singapore.
We’ve come up with a few pointers and questions you may want to consider when deciding on the right infant care centre to send your precious little baby.
Infant care centres in Singapore are overseen by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA).
- Location and Accessibility
Is the infant care centre located within convenient distance from your home or workplace? Is it located near a bus stop or train station? It may not seem like much, but 5 minutes saved on travelling each day adds up to 100 minutes in a month of 20 work days!
- Fees and subsidies
The fees for infant care centres vary depending on centres. You can check out the infant care centres listed under ECDA’s Partner Operator Scheme and Anchor Operator Scheme, as these centres have a fee cap for both full and half day infant care programmes. Also, parents with certain household income may apply for basic or additional subsidies to save on the monthly infant care fees.
- Educarer:Infant Ratio
The stipulated educarer:infant ratio by ECDA is 1:5, but some infant care centres offer a lower ratio for more individualised attention. Do take note that centres with lower ratios may charge a higher fee.
- Cleanliness and Hygiene
Infants below six months old are especially vulnerable to illnesses as their immune systems are still developing. Apart from standard temperature checks and hand sanitisation at the door and throughout the day, check that the educarers practise frequent hand washing and use gloves when changing diapers. This can be observed when you visit the infant care centre.
Infant care centres do more than plain routine care for infants.
Most, but not all, infant care centres are air-conditioned. If the infant care centre that you are interested in is ventilated naturally, check that they have air purifiers in place for use when the air quality is unsatisfactory.Also, for non-air conditioned infant care centres, look out for safety features such as window grilles and the type of window blinds or curtains used. The latter should ideally not have hanging cords as they are a safety risk for curious infants and toddling tots.
- Milk feeding arrangements
For babies who are on breastmilk, find out from the educarers if they have the knowledge and equipment to warm up expressed breast milk. For babies who are drinking formula milk, check with them what parents should prepare e.g. number of milk bottles, should you leave a tin of infant formula milk labelled with your baby’s name etc.
Infant educarers do more than just routine care. There might not be a fixed classroom schedule for younger infants as they spend most of their day sleeping. When they are awake, educarers engage infants in activities that stimulate their senses, such as music, art and craft and sensory play.
- Parent Communication
As your infant will be spending many hours in the infant care centre, it is important that you are comfortable with the communication tool the school uses. Certain infant care centres use a communication book, where updates are detailed in pen on paper. Other infant care centres provide updates via an application where you can be alerted to updates the moment the details are keyed in.
While there might not be a perfect infant care centre, do take some time to discuss the top three must-haves when choosing a comfortable centre for your baby.It would help to visit the infant care on a weekday and talk to the educarers and principal to understand about their processes and beliefs too.
Read our guide to choose the right childcare centre or preschool when your child turns 18 months old!
What were some of your deciding factors when selecting an infant care centre? Share it with us in the comments!