Parenting

Preparing yourself and your baby for Infant Care (Singapore) – Part 1

[By Big C]

Child care arrangement can be a nightmare for FTWMs especially for those who do not have parents or parents-in-laws who can help out after maternity leave ends. So I would like to share the preparation process, hoping to help you better plan! This is Part 1, touching more on the centre selection. There will be Part 2 that will cover more on what to bring to the centre and other things to expect during their 14 months (from 4 to 18 months old).

I remember planning for this the moment I got pregnant as I knew my kids are fated to be child care babies. Of course I was worried and skeptical about how the “outsiders” would care for my baby yet I was also relieved to know that my kids need not coop up at home with the grandparents.

I started hunting by location and fees. The fees are scary! But I knew it was the only way since I really do not want to go the domestic helper way and I wouldn’t be a good SAHM and we cannot afford to have only single income…

So if you are pregnant now… 

Look at the resources you have and decide the route you are going to take.
(A) domestic helper
(B) parents or parents-in-law
(C) home baby sitter
(D) infant care centre

Continue reading if you have selected D.

1) Start reading up on what to expect for infant care services.
– You can google or visit ECDA’s website for a start.
– You will NOT be able to register your baby until you have gotten his/her birth cert.
– Once you have gotten baby’s birth cert, do NOT rely on ECDA website to register your interest. The centres seem to respond to direct enquiries better.

2) Search for centres that are near your home or workplace.
– Do not consider those near your workplace if it is far from home because on days where you decide to take leave to run some errands, you wouldn’t want to travel that far to drop off your baby.
– You should consider the travelling time and mode of transport too as you will need to pick your baby up by 7pm sharp else you may face penalty (typically $10 per 5min block).

3) Consider the kind of environment you would prefer.
For eg. air-conditioned or not; semi-detached house convert ; void deck ; shopping mall

We went for Little Tree House (formerly known as Cheery) at 62 Jalan Naung. It is a semi-detached converted for infant / child care service. They are equipped with air-conditioning which are usually only on during nap time, very hot days or hazy days. 

Small E had a brief period (3 months) at Learning Vision @ Grassroot Club as there was no vacancy at Little Tree House earlier, and I had to start work. This was situated in GrassRoot Club next to Yio Chu Kang MRT station) itself. There is full air-conditioning and fans installed. There is another centre in Nanyang Polytechnic but that is reserved only for their staff. 

4) Check the teacher: baby ratio. ECDA’s regulation set this at 1:5. 
– This means 1 teacher to maximum 5 babies or 2 teachers to maximum 10 babies. But it doesn’t take much imagination to know that 1 teacher to 5 babies is near mission impossible.
– Though the centre may claim to offer 1:3, do ask further if they are intending to take in more babies. Sometimes, they do take in more after your baby is enrolled. Of course we have to be fair, they will not be able to take too little babies either to sustain their operations.

Little Tree House, due to space allocation, is only allowed to take up 5 babies at any one time. They did not claim to have a lower ratio but we are happy since there were usually only 4 babies. Learning Vision is set to have a ratio of 1:3 but they had almost 20 babies. Despite the high number of teachers (who report at a staggered timing), it was apparent that some babies need to wait to be attended to though the teachers were really nice. 

5) With the above, consider the budget that you have in mind. 
– The fees can vary from less than $1,000 to more than $2,000.
– Working mums can enjoy subsidy of $600. If your household income is below S$7,500, you can apply for additional subsidy. The form will be provided to you by the centre.

6) Try asking around for feedback / review for the centre that you are interested in.
– You can join Facebook group – Childcare in Singapore and ask fellow parents for review
– You can also try asking in your estate’s Facebook group.

Up to this point, there is not much things you can do until baby is born. From what I understand, now they do not entertain parents until baby’s birth cert is ready. 

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Once your baby is born… 

1) Start contacting the infant care centres that you are interested in by phone or email or website form.
Do indicate very clearly your baby’s date of birth and your desired date of commencement. Provide your contact details as well.

2) Request for centre visit regardless if you have already decided on this centre or you have a few options.
– The best way to judge is to view the place in person. I would suggest bringing baby along because I believe the environment and vibes must match baby.
– Some centres like to arrange visits during the children’s nap time. My hubby couldn’t make it on weekday so we actually visited on a Saturday morning where there is no baby around.
– During the visit, look out for the furniture and equipment available, and the decorations. All these will give you a clue of how things are run. By the way, all centres are required to support breastfeeding so they will be equipped with warmer and fridge.

3) Bring along a cheque book or cash and a copy of baby’s birth cert if you are particularly keen or very in need to secure a place asap.
– In case you really love the centre, it is always good to “chope” a place asap! Otherwise, express your interest and request for a few days to consider.
– Different centres have different mode of payment. Most centres would prefer to go by GIRO upon commencement. You can choose to use baby’s CDA account for the GIRO payment.

4) Do check clearly with the school on the required amount of deposit, registration fees, and the fees thereafter. 
– The deposit is usually refundable and equivalent to one-month fee. It will be refunded upon withdrawal from centre.
– Registration fees are non-refundable but can still cost quite abit.
– Insurance fees are on annual basis but is usually a few dollars.

Upon registration, centres usually would also collect the first month’s programme fees. So be prepared that you will need to fork out more during the registration.

5) Fill in the forms especially the ECDA form / GIRO payment form and submit before commencement. 
– Since there is much details to be filled, they will usually let you bring the forms back to fill up. It will be good to submit ahead of commencement date as processing time is required.
– There are also documents required such as baby’s immunisation record, parents’ NRIC copies, baby’s birth cert etc.
– Do request for the centre handbook to help you understand them better before commencement. The handbook will include lots of terms & conditions, as well as the things to prepare / bring on baby’s first day!

Hope you are able to secure a place in your desired infant care centre!

Continue to Part 2 to find out what are the things you need to prepare and pack for your baby! Click here...

Meanwhile, if you have any questions, please feel free to comment below or write to me at thechuasisters@gmail.com!

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