The thought of putting your baby in daycare makes you tear up a little, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Putting your baby in daycare is tough. Those first few days (or even weeks) will be hard. But, the good news is that you can make this transition easier by choosing a high-quality daycare where you feel comfortable leaving your little one.
Finding daycare can be overwhelming and it’s best to start as early as possible (seriously, before the baby is even born in most cases) as waiting lists can be months long. We’re here to help make this process less stressful. Keep reading to learn our tips on how to choose a daycare.
How to Choose a Daycare: Start Here
The first things you should do when choosing a daycare is to think about what you want. Do you prefer in-home daycare? Or an actual daycare center? There are some significant differences between the two, including the cost, so you really want to do your research to know which you are looking for.
Once that’s determined, it’s time to make a short list. Asking friends and family for recommendations is a great starting point. Scour Facebook mom’s groups for recommendations too and read all the reviews you can.
Because daycares are licensed by the state, most states have a website where you can search all licensed daycares in your area, see if they’ve had any violations of any sort, and see a grade or ranking, if your state provides one. This is an excellent way to whittle down your “short” list if it’s a bit long.
Then, it’s time to start visiting. Here are what to look for and some questions you should ask.
Visiting Daycares: What to Look For and What Questions to Ask
It’s a good idea to schedule a visit ahead of time to make sure they have time to give you a tour and answer your questions, but you should always drop by unannounced too. Make sure they aren’t just putting on a show for a tour.
What to Look For
- Cleanliness (On the surface, is it clean? How do they clean the rooms and toys each day?)
- Teacher-child interaction
- Toys and books (Are they age appropriate? Are babies being engaged or simply sitting in swings or bouncers?)
- Safety measures (is it a closed campus? Do you need a code to get in? Can strangers come and go easily?)
- Environment (Does it seem warm and inviting? Would you be comfortable leaving your child here?)
Questions to Ask
This list of questions to ask prospective daycare providers certainly is not exhaustive, but it’s a start.
- What are your sick policies?
- When is a payment due and what forms do you take?
- Is there a curriculum?
- What is the napping policy?
- Do we get vacation days?
- What is the turnover rate?
- How do you communicate?
- Is there an open-door policy for parents?
- What is your feeding policy? Do you provide food/formula?
- Do you provide diapers? How often are they checked/changed?
- What is the teacher-child ratio? (This is typically specified by the state and depends on the age of the children)
- What kind of credentials do your teachers have? What kind of child care training is required of them?
For more questions to ask, check out some of the other lists out there. You can put together a pretty thorough list of questions using these resources. Many of these questions will be spelled out in a parent handbook or daycare policy manual that’s typically provided to each family.
Final Thoughts on How to Choose a Daycare
Choosing a daycare is a big deal. Take your time, do your research, and make sure you are comfortable with your choice. These tips should get you started with a plan on how to choose a daycare.
For more information about parenting and other tips and tricks, explore some of the other areas of our website.