Trying to decide between home-based daycare or a daycare center? A recent Oregon State University survey, published in the December 2009 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, studied 300 home-based, childcare providers—sheding light on both positive and negative aspects of family daycare.
The good news, say researchers, most home-based providers did “pretty well” in supporting healthy eating habits, with very few serving fried foods or high-fat foods, and a low percentage of being children served sweets or chips as snacks.
The bad news? Kids aren't always getting enough exercise. While 78 percent of providers reported offering more than an hour of time for active play daily, 41 percent said children still ended up sitting for extended periods and 66 percent of providers indicated the TV was on for most of the day. The survey also revealed that 63 percent of home-based providers restricted active play or exercise as punishment for kids, a finding that alarmed researchers.
“All the research shows that restricting physical activity makes children more, not less, likely to misbehave,” commented Stuart Trost, study lead author and noted childhood obesity expert.
When paying a visit to any prospective daycare setting (family-based or center), be on the lookout for how kids of different ages spend their day. Even if your goal is find a safe and loving provider for your 3 month old, take time to observe the types of activities and play spaces offered to older babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Be direct and ask providers to share their views on helping kids lead physically active lives.
According to Trost, the most eye-opening result of the study was that less than half of all home-based providers had received any training in appropriate physical activity for young children.