Nurseries: a worker speaks

Here’s a story from an FTM member:

I thought I’d share this experience with you. My daughter, aged 16, is doing work experience this summer in a nursery. She is working with babies aged 6-18 months. She returns home exhausted and her comments about her work seem to emphasise the concerns that Full Time Mothers have always raised about putting very young infants into full day care (7am to 6pm in some cases).

She has told me that some of the children cry for their mothers for hours and are very difficult to console. It is not generally a happy atmosphere. Interestingly it is the boy babies that seem to suffer the most, and the girls who adapt best to full day care. She also said that although there were some good staff, several of them she said “seem to hate their job” and go through the motions without much enthusiasm.

The other thing she told me which was quite disturbing, was of a problem infant who frequently bites other children. Yesterday he bit another baby on the check very badly breaking the skin and leaving the child with a very sore red and bruised cheek. She told me that the staff can only deal with this by putting the child in “the naughty corner.” She said this does not work as he is only a year old and has no understanding of why he is put there. She said to me that this behaviour reminded her of the behaviour you sometimes hear about involving caged animals!

Finally, and most tellingly she told me that when she has her own children she will never put them in day care but would choose to look after them herself!

The nursery she works at has had an excellent Ofsted inspection – which is the main reason we chose it for her work experience.

I make these comments not in judgment of women who have to work – but with concern about the effect it has on very young infants. Interestingly I have just had to return to work myself out of financial necessity. My youngest is now 8 and I feel so fortunate to have been a full time mother for the past 12 years and especially during the early preschool years when perhaps children need their mothers around the most.

I know my children have benefited enormously and the material sacrifices we have had to make have been more than worth it!

This reminded me of a morning creche at a church holiday I helped at. There were a dozen under threes and at any given point at least one of them would be crying. This is not to say that they would not be crying at home (perhaps they would) but rather that all twelve children were hearing crying all the time. They were in an environment where they were always hearing a baby in distress.

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