You Can't Always Get What You Want—Infant Care Preferences and Use Among Employed Mothers



Although much scholarly attention has been paid to the question of whether a “shortage” of adequate child care exists, few studies have framed this issue around the disjuncture between mothers' preferred modes of care and the types of care available to them. In this study, we address that gap by asking what mothers want, what mothers use, and why many don't use the form of care they prefer. Using a regional sample of 247 pregnant women who returned to paid employment within the 1st year postpartum and used nonmaternal child care, we found that the majority of the mothers surveyed preferred father care (53%), but only 23% primarily used father care. Derived from logistic regression models, the significant determinants of achieving the type of care preferred are the presence of additional children under age 5, higher educational attainment, and the mother working an evening or night work shift.