No difference in development with childcare

July 31, 2012

Parents who have feared sending their babies to childcare too early can rest a little easier, according to a research project led by a Charles Sturt University (CSU) academic.

“In the past, have been worried that early use of childcare may cause behavioural and developmental problems in their children, but we have found that is not the case,” said Associate Professor Linda Harrison from CSU’s School of Teacher Education in Bathurst.

“From one study involving about 1 000 children, we found that entering childcare before a first birthday does not impede development.”

Professor Harrison examined nine measures of social and emotional development in children aged two and three years, comparing the children who started childcare as babies with children who started later, having been at home with a parent in the first year of life.

"We found that starting childcare as babies was not a factor influencing how these children behaved in childcare and at home when they were aged two or three years of age," she said.

"We noted there were other important factors, such as the child's personality or features of the childcare centre they were currently attending, that made a difference to these outcomes, but there was no difference based on what kind of care they had received as babies."

The study used various measures to determine how the children were faring, including how they interacted with others, the level of problem behaviors, and how much they appeared to enjoy their activities in childcare.

Associate Professor Harrison says the findings were based on reports by teachers and by parents.

"Parents struggle when making decisions about the kind of child care to use when they are deciding on a care arrangement for their very young children. It's up to the parents to make decisions about when they need child care," she said.

"As we are moving into the new federal policies regarding parental leave, infants will be starting childcare at a later age than we might have had in the past.

"And I think that's a good thing, so that develop the kind of supportive relationships they need with their parents to be able to move out into the world and form new relationships with new caregivers and other children."

Professor Harrison says the research has implications for the qualifications needed for the national childcare sector.

"I think professional education is absolutely critical for ensuring that high quality education programs are provided in childcare centres," Professor Harrison said.

"Caregivers and educators in centres should have good qualifications, as staff qualifications are a key feature of a high-quality program. We know from decades of research that high-quality programs result in better outcomes for children, not just cognitively but in social and emotional areas as well."

The research, drawn from data in the Longitudinal Study of Australian which was funded by the federal government, was presented at the Australian Institute of Family Studies conference in Melbourne on Thursday 26 July.

Explore further: Early use of non-parental childcare is not harmful for most children

More information: www.csu.edu.au/faculty/educat/teached

Related Stories

Early use of non-parental childcare is not harmful for most children

September 27, 2011
What type of childcare arrangements do parents choose before their children are 18 months old? Does the choice of childcare affect children's language skills and mental health at the age of five?

Before they can speak, babies make friends: study

February 18, 2012
Babies still too small to speak know how to make jokes and form friendships, say researchers at an Australian university who have spent two years filming the behaviour of young children.

Recommended for you

New comparison chart sheds light on babies' tears

July 10, 2017
A chart that enables parents and clinicians to calculate if a baby is crying more than it should in the first three months of its life has been created by a Kingston University London researcher, following a study of colic ...

Blood of SIDS infants contains high levels of serotonin

July 3, 2017
Blood samples from infants who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) had high levels of serotonin, a chemical that carries signals along and between nerves, according to a study funded in part by the National Institutes ...

Is your child's 'penicillin allergy' real?

July 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Many children suspected of being allergic to the inexpensive, first-line antibiotic penicillin actually aren't, new research indicates.

Probiotic supplements failed to prevent babies' infections

July 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Probiotic supplements may not protect babies from catching colds or stomach bugs in day care, a new clinical trial suggests.

Starting school young can put child wellbeing at risk

June 22, 2017
New research has shown that the youngest pupils in each school year group could be at risk of worse mental health than their older classmates.

Fidget spinners are the latest toy craze, but the medical benefits are unclear

June 21, 2017
Last week, German customs agents in Frankfurt Airport seized 35 metric tons of an imported plastic device, destroying the shipment for public safety purposes before it could infiltrate the country's marketplaces.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.