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Questions to Ask When Choosing a Daycare for Your Baby

by Katlyn Joy | June 29, 2010 12:00 AM
4 Comments

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Daycare for Your Baby

Returning to work and placing your infant in a daycare is a scary process. You are placing tremendous trust in a facility and the people who work there. To ease your mind a bit, prepare a thorough list of questions and visit each center.

Staff

1. What is the child/caregiver ratio? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 3 babies per caregiver and a group size no larger than 6 infants.

2. What is the training background of caregivers? How much child development background is required?

3. Are caregivers certified in first aid and infant CPR?

4. What is the educational background of the center's director?

5. What is the staff turnover rate?

6. Will your child have a staff change during the day? At many centers, workers are part-time and may leave in the early afternoon when another shift of daycare workers comes in. Make sure you meet all the potential staff members who will care for your child, not just the lead teacher/caregiver.

7. Are there assistants?

8. Have all workers at the center, not just direct teachers, been background checked?

9. What is the teacher's philosophy of childcare?

10. Are caregivers knowledgeable about childhood illnesses and disease prevention?

About the Daycare Center

1. What are the center's policies on attendance, payment, sickness and so on? Ask for a written copy.

2. What is the holiday schedule?

3. What is a typical type daily schedule for the infants?

4. What does the infant room look like? Is it clean, well layed-out, with interesting toys and activities? Where do the babies eat and sleep? Is the changing area clean and stocked well with supplies? Is there a place to wash up nearby?

5. Are there rocking chairs for caregivers to rock the babies?

6. Does the room appear hygienic, safe and organized?

7. Do the babies have outdoor time? Observe where this happens. Is this space well thought out for infants? Do the babies have ample shade?

8. Are all children's health records checked, especially for up to date screenings and immunization before being admitted to the center?

9. What is the policy on drop-ins? Any center should have an open door for parents.

10. How is security handled? Do all visitors check in? Are their cameras on site? How are children protected from strangers?

11. How are accidents and illnesses handled? Does the center keep records on injuries that occur?

Observation

1. Observe the staff working. Note how they handle the infants. Are children given much attention? What kind of interaction do you observe? What is the general mood of the room and the babies?

2. Is the staff vigilant about hand washing? This is especially a concern in the infant room where staffers will handle diaper changings and feedings.

3. Do you observe any safety concerns? Sharp corners? Electrical outlets uncovered. Cords within reach of baby's hands. Is there a posted emergency evacuation route? Are there smoke alarms and fire extinguishers?

4. Do the toys seem up to date and clean? Ask the staff how and when the toys and supplies are sanitized.

Contacting The Daycare

1. Make a list of potential centers after asking friends, pediatricians, and relatives for recommendations. Do a basic interview on the phone, asking several most pertinent questions such as cost, schedule, ratio of caregivers. Once you've narrowed down the list, do an in-person interview/tour.

2. At this interview and tour, ask to see the entire facility and meet your child's teacher(s). Look for the licensing information and make sure everything is up to date.

3. If you receive inadequate answers or you feel uneasy for any reason, cross the center off your list.

4. Bring your baby for a repeat interview and tour and see how baby responds to the caregivers and the setting.

Choosing a daycare is one of the most important decisions you'll make as a new parent. Take your time and investigate thoroughly. Talk to parents whose children have been enrolled in the center to find out their praise and complaints regarding the center.

Katlyn Joy is a freelance writer, and just graduated with a Master's of Arts in Creative Writing. She is mom to seven children, and lives in Denver, Colorado.

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Showing 1 - 4 out of 4 Comments
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Guest Sep 25, 2017 02:48:38 PM ET

How much does baby daycare cost?

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Guest Jul 5, 2017 06:08:44 PM ET

Right now, my husband and i are looking for a daycare for our infant daughter. we want to make sure that she will be getting the care and attention she needs to thrive. like you said, we will need to observe the working staff and note how they handle the infants. thanks for sharing!

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Jasper Whiteside Nov 22, 2016 02:39:46 PM ET

I like the idea of having visitors check in. it might even be a good idea to have a list of acceptable names that would be allowed in to see the infant. it shouldn't be too hard for the parents to add names to this list as people come to visit. they would just have to make it clear that they need to be contacted before seeing the child.

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Sierra Aug 10, 2010 03:51:26 PM ET

I went back to work in january when my baby was 3.5 months old. i was really lucky in that i had amazing childcare set up - we host an au pair. it was the most affordable option out there (0/wk) for my baby and toddler, vs the more that 00 a month i would pay for daycare. plus, i dont have to get the kids up and out of the house in the bad weather.

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