Children aged between 2 and 18 months fall in the category of infants for Singapore’s definition of infant care. Mostly, it is the child care centres (catering to older children), that also offer separate services for Singapore infant care. They provide full day and half day programmes for infants.
Apart from caring for the infants while their parents are at work, these centres also try to develop the infant’s physical, cognitive and psychosocial faculties. Specialised training for handling infants is a pre-requisite for staff at these infant care centres, so it is mandatory for the centre to employ a state registered nurse or qualified infant care teacher to look after their needs.
The recommended teacher to infant ratio is 1:5 at these centres. This low ratio ensures proper and adequate attention to every infant. The minimum floor space requisite is 5M2 for every infant/toddler enrolled at the centre. This large per-infant allocation of space is to allow free mobility and safety. An infant care programme primarily focuses on routine care of the infants, rituals and play-time. The idea is to foster a parent-child kind of relationship between the care-giver and the infant, because at this age, the child is almost completely dependent on the care-giver for all of his/her needs. To make up for the absence of parents, a routine encompassing most of the activities that infants need, and want, to do is established.
Singapore also offers subsidies for fees of infant and child care centres. These depend on whether single or both parents are working, how many hours they work, whether the care centre programme is half day or full day, and the monthly family income. So although infant care centres are expensive, significant subsidies ensure that they don’t become burdensome to the parents. The logic behind these infant care centres is that mothers can stay employed even after a child is born. So, if the mother also works, taking into account the subsidy provided by the government, and the additional family income generated by the working mother, it should work to the advantage of the family. It should work to increase the overall financial standing of the family. It is also a recognition of the fact that women can contribute significantly to the national economy even after starting a family, if a viable and quality child-care programme is offered to care for the child in the mother’s absence.