Choosing To Send Our Daughter To Daycare: Part I
Our daughter, Margo, has been in daycare since she was four months old. As two working parents, daycare was always a given for our family. Margo’s cystic fibrosis (CF) diagnosis gave us a brief pause, forcing us to really consider all of our options. Her medical team encouraged us to follow the same plan we would have for any other child. The unknowns were scary, but ultimately we determined it was the best decision for our family. We went into it with the mindset of “let’s try it and see what happens,” knowing we could always pivot if necessary.
We did our research
We spent a long time researching and investigating prior to Margo even being born. A lot of consideration went into our choice for daycare, everything from the number of students in each class to the curriculum they taught. I quickly found that so much of the decision was based on parental instinct.
I walked into a couple of places that seemed great at first glance, but upon talking to staff about Margo’s medical needs, I felt an inkling of discomfort at how casually they took it. When we found her first daycare, we had no doubt it would work out based on how seriously they listened to our directions and concerns. Many daycare workers had never heard of CF and seemed genuinely interested in learning more about it and how they could support our daughter.
Preparing her daycare teachers for CF
Here are some of the measures we took in preparing Margo’s teachers:
- We asked a lot of questions about how often they sanitized toys and classroom equipment. We considered both how often they cleaned and what solution they used.
- We brought Margo into the classroom so we could show the staff how to administer her enzymes. As a baby, we opened the enzymes into a small bowl of applesauce and fed it to her with a spoon. In the infant classroom, most of the babies were fed on demand, but given the amount of preparation that was involved to feed Margo, she needed to be on a more consistent feeding schedule. If she became fussy because of hunger, the teachers couldn’t just give her a bottle--they first had to prepare the applesauce and give it to her, and then make sure she ate it within a specific time frame. This was an adjustment for the staff and we were so appreciative of how they quickly adapted, especially while also taking care of the other babies in the room. It quickly became second nature for them.
- I let the staff know about how a lingering cough could turn serious for Margo, and that there would be times I would need to come by at lunch to give her an additional manual CPT treatment. The daycare had an open-door policy for parents and the teachers were always understanding and accommodating. I usually sat on the floor of the classroom so Margo could see her friends and play with her toys while I did her therapy.
- Her teachers always looked out for whether Margo had more frequent runny noses or coughs and would let us know at pick-up. They would also let us know if there were more serious respiratory or flu-like symptoms among the other infants and we would keep Margo out of class for a few days to be safe.
Making accommodations for CF
Eventually, Margo moved from the infant room to the toddler room, and then to an entirely new daycare when we moved. A search for a new daycare started, and we landed on another winner. We met her new daycare teachers and learned a new schedule, and in this class, we were able to send in some high-fat snacks and a CF-friendly lunch.
One thing we prioritized initially was finding a center that had evidence-based guidelines pertaining to health and safety and an excellent track record. These were personal priorities for us but ones that have paid off as far as keeping Margo as healthy as possible, both from a CF and a COVID-19 perspective.
Read on to Part Two, where I detail how we handled daycare during a global pandemic. Share your experiences finding the best daycare for your loved one with CF in the comments below.
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