By Gloria Freeman
One of the biggest decisions a parent will make is choosing quality child care for their infant, toddler or child.
According to Zero to Three, a parenting resource, a good caregiver is loving and responsive, respects the baby’s individuality and provides a stimulating and child-friendly environment. Zero to Three reports other considerations in choosing quality child care which include looking at how caregivers talk to the children in their care, the caregiver’s ability to answer children’s questions, how children are allowed to eat and sleep according to their individualized rhythms, the daily schedule of the child care provider, available toys and learning tools, disciplinary techniques administered, and the amount of respect given to the language and culture of the children.
However, in addition to the proper licensure and certifications of a child care provider, an important consideration that can often be overlooked by parents and child care providers is how we keep our kids safe from household and industrial cleaners and chemicals.
At Olu’s Center, an intergenerational child care and senior center, we pride ourselves in keeping household and other toxic chemicals away from our children. At Olu’s Center, we provide a chemically toxic-free environment for the children in our stead.
The publication, Everyday Health, reports that common cleaning products often used, unbeknownst to parents and child care providers, are actually toxic and should not be exposed to our children. Everyday Health reports that dangerous chemicals can include: household paint, batteries, antifreeze and motor oil, bleach, antibacterial kitchen and bathroom cleaners, laundry and dishwashing detergent, insecticides, pesticides, flea and tick control products, glass cleaner, nail polish, perfume and cologne, air freshening sprays, carpet shampoos, and the list goes on.
There was a time when we all drove and rode in vehicles which did not have seatbelts. Many of us came of age in eras when we thought nothing of our children riding bicycles without protective helmets, or blowing cigarette smoke over a child while we were breastfeeding. But those days are over. Today, we would no more have our children sitting in the middle of a cigarette smoke filled room than drive our young children down the street without being nestled safely in a car seat.
In the same way we make healthy provisions for our children at home, we need to take into consideration when choosingquality child care.
When we begin to keep our children out of harm’s way by shielding them from poisonous chemicals, we realize we are taking into consideration the level of love and responsiveness a child care is providing.
Zero to Three states, “Because the way children are treated by caregiving adults shapes their development in important ways, it is crucial to find a child care professional who both understands and nurtures children’s learning through the everyday moments they share.”
There is nothing more important in shaping the development of our children than keeping them out of harm’s way. A primary way of achieving this is to be cognizant of what chemicals and cleaning products our children are being exposed to both at home and in child care centers and steering them toward dynamic and safe learning environments which are chemically free.
Gloria Freeman is President/CEO of Olu’s Center, an intergenerational childcare and senior day program, and can be reached at gfreeman@olu’shome.com.