When you’re pregnant, you’re working against the clock to get your ‘before the baby comes’ checklist completed. One item on this list might be child care. You might be searching for a daycare, or maybe alternatives for childcare for your baby when you return to work.
Check out these resources before starting your search. The National Association for Education of Young Children, along with Association for Early Learning Leaders, have an assortment of family information to consider.
Give yourself plenty of time with your search, as it takes time to find the right fit for your family. Your search will include scheduling tours, meeting teachers and staff, and figuring out what is important to you when it comes to taking care of your precious little one.
Some options to consider depend on price, convenience, time frame of your return to work, what is the right fit for your family, and the hours of operation of a facility.
A few other options to think about for childcare are using a nanny, nanny-share, or maybe you have a family member that has volunteered to step in during this transition. Or perhaps you’re considering multiple options, buying you more time before dropping your child off at daycare.
First things first: start researching what is important to you when looking for a daycare. This might include location, teacher-to-child ratio, classroom itinerary, or cleanliness of the facility. Once you find out what is important, develop a checklist. Along with this checklist, you will want to research a list of questions to ask.
A few questions to consider:
What is the vaccination policy at the facility?
What is the teacher-to-child ratio?
What are their cleaning procedures? Are the cleaning products kept locked?
What does a typically day look like for my infant?
How are naps handled?
When do toys get pulled from the play circulation?
How can I follow what is happening each day with my child? Is there an app?
What are the times of the daycare? And what happens if I’m running late to pick up my child?
What would I need to bring each week for my child? Diapers? Wipes? Sheets?
You shouldn’t make a decision without touring a facility. Some items to look for when walking through a facility include looking at the other kiddos. Do they look satisfied, rested, and content? Or are they screaming their heads off and nobody has come to their aid yet?
Make sure to look at the nap and sleeping area. Does it looks like somewhere you’d like to relax, or is it in the middle of everything where it would be hard to settle a child down? Ask as many questions as you want; this is your child.
When it comes to cleanliness, there is a certain standard. Depending on when your tour is, cleanliness may or may not be evident. For instance, if you decide to tour during a lunchtime, there might be a few children eating at once. This would be messier than touring first thing in the morning. Usually, tours are scheduled during non-drop off and pick-up times, so most are completed throughout 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Vaccinations are important to have a separate conversation on. As listed as one of the questions to ask, it is important to know this policy, because your baby will be spending a majority of their time with other children. If they are the youngest baby, you would hope the risk of a virus or disease is low due to the other kids being vaccinated.
Do your online homework. With the assortment of social media tools and places people can leave reviews, don’t bypass researching the facility. Parents should be using their online voice to speak highly of a childcare facility. Don’t be afraid to call the daycare and address an issue with a poor review that another parent may have left, if it is recent.
Ask to meet the teachers or spend some time in the room with them, watching how they work with other kids. This is important and they should not blink an eye if you ask to do this. The daycare center should be completely transparent with parents, and if they are not, this raises a red flag.
Ask about food if your child is old enough to have lunch at the facility. Are there healthy options? Are you able to see the kitchen? Do you have to bring your own?
What to expect’s website has some other information to consider when deciding to enroll your child at a daycare.