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How to Choose The Right Daycare

Updated on April 8, 2018
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Meagan is a mother to two young children, a freelance writer, and a waitress. She has spent countless hours trying to stretch a dollar.

Going back to work? Worried about finding childcare?

If you were to ask any parent what the most important thing in their lives was, they would likely tell you it’s their children. Every decision a parent makes revolves around their kids, including the decision to go back to work.

Families whom are financially stable, enough to keep one parent home, don’t have to worry about making that decision, but many families are finding it tough to live comfortably on one household income. The number of households in which both partners work is growing quickly, and this is forcing many people to choose a day-care for their kids.

Choosing the right daycare is essential to your little ones well-being, but making the right decision can be very hard. There are many things you must consider, and it’s easy to forget some of those things in the chaos of choosing someone to care for the most precious thing in your life.

The guide below can assist you in your day-care seeking journey, by reminding you of the important factors that need to be taken into consideration. If you’re faced with the daunting task of finding a new daycare, or switching care providers for your child, remember to follow the advice below to ensure you find the perfect care facility for the most cherished thing in your life.

Things You Should Look For

Many caregivers will allow you to come and tour their facility before making your final decision. This is crucial, and you should absolutely take advantage of this, because it gives you an opportunity to look for a few key things that they may otherwise lie about.

Are They Giving the Children Enough Attention?

Watch for Attentiveness
While visiting the facility, keep an eye on the daycare staff, and take note of how they all interact with the children. The early years are critical because it’s when children do most of their developing. Parents spend countless hours playing with, cuddling with, and loving their children, and want other caretakers to do the same. Are they playing with the kids, showing them attention? Or are they ignoring them and allowing them to run free?

Is Everything Childproofed Well Enough?

There are many things that people look for automatically, such as: baby gates, sharp corners, cupboard locks, or standing water, but you should also be aware of any chemicals, crafting, or first aid supplies. Make sure everything is locked away in a high place where children cannot gain access to it.

Check for Age Approriate Toys

You probably wouldn’t think about looking through the toys, but you should. Children learn through exploration and play. Without the appropriate toys, they’ll be robbed of this, and may fall behind their peers. It’s not just about having enough toys either; you need to be sure they offer a wide range of toys for all ages and stages of development.

Things to Ask About

Going on a tour is a great way for you to see everything with your own eye, but that's not all you should base your decision on. There are a few imperative questions that must be asked if you want the best fit for you and your family.

How do They Dicipline Children?

Discipline is a highly debated topic among parents and caregivers. Some believe spankings are needed to instill fear, and therefore, respect, while others believe time-outs and consequences to be a more appropriate form of punishment. You should always check to make sure you’re on the same page as your caregiver, and they need to respect your opinion and not push their own upon your child.

Do They Have Experience?

This one is so obvious that it actually gets ignored far too often. Most parents just assume that a baby-sitter or daycare facility has experience, but that’s not always the case. Some nannies may have worked with one other child, or none at all, and some day cares may hire people with little or no experience. Never be embarrassed to ask, because it’s your child’s safety on the line.

Are They Dedicated to This Job?

It’s likely that you never thought about asking this question, but it is a very important thing to know. The person responsible of caring for your child is going to be an intimate part of your child’s development. Your baby will bond with them, see them almost as much as they see you, and share his or her life with this person, you want to know they find that as meaningful as they should.

Hours are not always set in stone!
Hours are not always set in stone!

Will There Hours Match Yours?

Are their hours going to match up with yours successfully? Do you have a job that requires you to stay later, or go in early, sometimes at the last minute, and can they accommodate this? If you get called into work will they take your child? These are all very important questions to ask now so you won’t be blindsided later.

What is Their Policy Around Illness?

What will they do if they become ill? Would they have a back-up plan, or would you be caught without childcare? What if your child is unwell? Do they have a sick child policy? If not, how do they care for ill children? Do they keep unwell children separated from the others? These are all very important things to know so you can prepare and not get caught in a chaotic situation later.

Do They Provide Meals and Snacks?

There may be days when your child eats multiple times while in their care; how does this work? Do they provide meals for everyone, and you provide snacks, or the other way around? Do you have to provide everything? How will they keep your things separate from everyone else’s? Do they have a list of approved meals and snacks, or can you send anything?

Things You Should Always Do

Remember, you play a huge role in the success your child has at daycare. It can be a great experience if you've chosen the right one, but even the best daycare will not work for your family if you don't do the things below.

Keep a Journal That Goes Back and Forth With Your Child

If they do it, keeping a journal that goes back and forth with your child is a great idea. You can write a quick note about your baby's behavior, mood, or anything you’re concerned about, and they can do the same while your child is with them. This is a great tool for communicating with your childcare provider, and identifying any problems in your baby's routine.

How Do They Handle Age Differences?

Caring for multiple children across numerous age groups can be a challenge, and you have every right to ask them how they overcome this challenge. Do babies have a safe place for floor time? Are senior kids getting ignored for the younger ones who need more attention? Do they separate the older children from the younger children? Is there a quiet place for young ones to nap?

Follow Your Instincts

A parent should always trust their instincts, and if something doesn’t feel right, it should be explored. If you feel uneasy about the bruises your child keeps getting (even if their explanation makes sense) you should do some investigating. Child abuse does happen in daycare centers, and while not all of them should be condemned, if you have a bad feeling about something, trust your gut! Better safe then sorry, and no one should ever fault you for caring about your child enough to worry!

Work out problems as quickly as possible!
Work out problems as quickly as possible!

Address A Problem Quickly

If you have a concern, or problem, with the way things are being done, you should always address it as soon as possible. Waiting too long can allow a small problem to manifest into a much larger one. Try to find a solution that everyone can agree on. Yes, it is your child, but you have to respect their routine as well.

You Can Always Change!

If at anytime you feel things are not working for your child or family, you can go to another care provider. If you've addressed problems, and nothing is being changed, or have an uneasy feeling about the way they operate, go somewhere else. You're not entering into an ironclad contract, and have the right to leave whenever you wish. However, if you do leave, don't expect to be able to go back if another place ends up being worse; make the decision carefully.

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© 2018 Meagan Ireland


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