Journal article Open Access

Characteristics of infant child care: Factors contributing to positive caregiving : NICHD early child care research network

Vandell, Deborah Lowe

At 6 months of age, 576 infants were observed during 2 half-days in five types of nonmaternal child care (centers, child care homes, in-home sitters, grandparents, and fathers). Settings were assessed in terms of their structural characteristics (group size, child-adult ratio, physical environment) and caregivers' characteristics (formal education, specialized training, child care experience, and beliefs about child rearing). In addition, caregivers' interactions with infants were observed. Caregivers were rated as providing more positive caregiving when group sizes and child-adult ratios were smaller and when caregivers held less-authoritarian beliefs about child rearing. Significant differences were associated with type of care arrangement. Child-adult ratios and group sizes were largest in centers and smallest in informal in-home care (with fathers, grandparents, and in-home sitters); specialized training was highest in centers. Small group sizes, low child-adult ratios, caregivers' nonauthoritarian child-rearing beliefs, and safe, clean, and stimulating physical environments were consistently associated with positive caregiving behaviors within each of these different types of settings.

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