Daycare May Benefit Moms Suffering from Depression -- and Their Kids

Health & Wellness on 06.13.11


Enrolling the children of depressed moms in daycare can have emotional, psychological, and social benefits -- even when the toddlers get just half a day of care each week, reports CNN.

The study of Australian moms was relatively small -- only 400 families -- but it's the first of its kind to show that children who get even a few hours of daycare a week when their moms are suffering from depression had fewer behavioral problems at the age of five. 

Researchers theorize that giving the moms a short break helps them be better parents when they are with their kids, and that it can also help boost their energy levels -- "It's tiring parenting a child all day, and if you're depressed even more tiring," explains one professor -- and that the kids benefit from the socialization at day care, which they may not get if mom is too depressed to make playdates and Mommy and Me a priority.

"Toddlerhood is a time when social interactions are very important developmentally. Mothers with depression may be less able to engage in social opportunities for their toddler. So child care may also help with socialization for toddlers of depressed mothers," says Lynne Giles, Ph.D., the study's author.

The study suggests that children who were cared for at formal settings -- not at a relative or friend's house -- received the most benefits, though the researchers point out that the results would need to be replicated.


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