Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Daycare for your Baby
As a new mom to be, I’m beginning my search for a daycare for our little one. We think we may have some of the weekdays covered due to differing work schedules, but we do know that we want a backup option in the event we need something last minute.
The first thought that goes through my mind is: how in the world am I going to be away from my little one for more than an hour? The day a mother goes back to work can be the most challenging day. As someone who has worked in the daycare and pre-school industry before, I know to keep my eyes and ears open for the best care because not all daycares are run the same. As a parent, there are things to consider before choosing a daycare. You want an environment where your child will thrive. You want to feel peace of mind when you drop your child off each day. Take a moment to review what’s important to you when looking for a daycare.
Here are a few things to consider the following before choosing a daycare:
Interview, interview, interview
Interviewing daycares will give you the opportunity to learn first hand the ins and outs of the daycare. Come prepared with a set of questions you plan on asking the facility. Don’t shy away from the tougher questions. I would even go to the extent of asking about the staff turnover and what qualities they look for in a staff member. This gives you a good idea of what values the facility holds and how their staff upholds those values. There are never too many questions you can ask!
Observe how staff interacts with each child
Don’t forget to observe how they interact with each other, too! It’s very important to observe how the staff interacts with each child. When observing, take note of how the child responds to the staff member. Observe their body language and the actions taken. Does the staff member respond respectfully? What does their body language and words say about their response to each child’s needs?
Check their policies
...and check them twice. Many daycares provide their policies at the front desk in a binder. Take note of which policies are most important to you. Do they have an adequate fire escape route plan? Where is it located? How do they respond to dangerous situations? What is their visiting policy, etc.? Ask for a copy of their policy handbook if you plan on interviewing several daycares.
Drop by during different times of the day
Visiting a daycare during different times of the day gives you a good indication of what every time of the day looks and feels like. Pop by unannounced. That is another good way to check in on how the facility operates during the quieter hours of the day. No one day will be the same and it’s best to observe different shifts during the day.
Questions to ask your potential daycare provider:
What’s your accreditation?
- Group daycare centers: The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is a good place to start. Their criteria meets the highest standards including a good ratio of adults to babies; low turnover in caregivers; and a philosophy that promotes wellness.
- In-home daycare: The National Association for Family Child Care is a good resource for in-home daycares.
What is your childcare philosophy?
I would ask a few staff members their philosophy too. The facility may have an overall mission statement/philosophy, but it is good to gather information on how the staff feels the facility should (and does) operate.
What is your philosophy on discipline?
Make sure your philosophy on discipline is aligned with their philosophy on discipline. If it isn’t or simply doesn’t feel right, your gut feeling is valid.
How do you handle a child who refuses to eat?
Inquire about meal times. How do they handle a child who refuses to eat? What methods do they implement if the problem persists? What is their protocol? Observe meal and snack times to observe how staff members handle a child who refuses to eat.
What qualifications does each staff member have?
At the bare minimum, caregivers should be CPR trained. Directors of daycare centers have a degree in Early Childhood Education at the bare minimum - but you can always dig a little deeper! Remember, you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you.
This process is just as much about you as it is about them. Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, there is probably a valid reason why. Do your research and put yourself in a situation where you feel comfortable making one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your babies life.
Even if you find the best daycare for your baby, the transition or thought of separating yourself from your baby for anything more than a quick trip to the bathroom is really hard in the beginning. Lean in to your mommy groups, lean in to support from friends and family as you go through the transition. And you know when you’re ready to send your baby off to daycare with healthy baby snacks and meals, Amara is here for the closest thing to homemade.