On the Fence About Day Care? New Study Reassures Working Moms

profile picture of Anisa Arsenault
ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Updated
Mar 2017
Hero Image

Maternity leave is coming to an end. It’s time to think about what’s next for baby: Are you staying home? Hiring a nanny? Or leaving him to fend for himself in the scary world of (gasp) daycare?

A new study from the Association for Psychological Science is aiming to quell parental concerns about any behavioral issues that might result from day care. And after following nearly 1,000 kids who spent years in day care, the results are in: It has little impact on aggressive behavior (in spite of recent reports of fight clubs breaking out at day care).

The day care question has been haunting parents since the 1980s, when greater numbers of women began entering the workforce. Some child development researchers began reporting that day care wasn’t conducive to a child’s social and emotional adjustment; other researchers disagreed. Parents were left with conflicting information for making their childcare decisions. So Boston College psychological scientist Eric Dearing decided to take a more comprehensive look.

Dearing teamed up with colleagues from the Norwegian Center for Child Behavioral Development to trace 939 Norwegian children through years of day care, interviewing parents about child behavior at 6 months, ages 1, 2, 3 and 4.

“At age 2, there was some evidence of small effects of early, extensive and continuous care on aggression,” lead study author Eric Dearing says. “Yet, by age 4 — when these children had been in child care for two additional years — there were no measurable effects of child care in any of our statistical models. This is the opposite of what one would expect if continuous care was risky for young children.”

The number of years spent in day care and exposed to other children without their parents being present, the better. “One surprising finding was that the longer children were in non-parental care, the smaller the effects on aggression became,” Dearing explains.

And no, these results are not intended to make you sad. “From a public perspective, our findings are important because they should help ease parents’ fears about the potential harms of early non-parental child care,” says Dearing.

Related Video

Toddler Brutally Attacked by Child at Home Day Care

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
12/13/2018

How Much Should You Pay Your Babysitter?

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor

Parents Furious After Anonymous Daycare Worker Reveals Alarming 'Secret'

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
11/07/2018

Should Day Care Teachers Have College Degrees? a New Law Says Yes

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
06/08/2017

Day Care vs. Nanny: Which One’s Right for You?

Lambeth Hochwald
Contributing Writer

Day Care Tapes Shoes to Toddler's Ankles: How Would You React?

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
05/24/2018

Tragic Ending to Baby’s First Day Care Visit

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
04/13/2016

These Are the Biggest Deal Breakers for Childcare

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
11/27/2017

Public Preschool From Birth Could Boost Your Salary—And Baby's

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
04/24/2017

Why 100% of Moms Return to Work at Patagonia After Giving Birth

Ashlee Neuman
Deputy Editor
Published
10/18/2016
Advertisement