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Pregnant Moms Guide To Finding Daycare for Your Baby

Katlyn Joy |19, June 2014


Choosing a quality daycare program for your new baby is more than challenging; it's scary for most moms. The thought of leaving your precious child with strangers as your maternity leave winds down can be panic-inducing. However, by doing your homework and planning as much as possible in advance, you can feel confident about your daycare choice.

The best plans are early plans; ideally, you should start looking for daycare while you are still pregnant. If you procrastinated, or your situation changed late in the game, you can manage to find a good program. You will just be very busy for a concentrated period of time!

Here are some things to check on while making your decision about daycare:

1. Call your local Child Care Resource and Referral Office to find out about options close to your home or work. They will have information on all kinds of daycare options, from centers to home daycare providers. Usually they will have information on licensing standards in your area.

2. Talk to providers over the phone to get basic information on the daycare center, to narrow your choices before making visits to centers. Get a feel for the program from the information offered to you in this initial contact.

3. When visiting the center, look at the layout. Is it cluttered or well-arranged? Does it look clean, with newer toys and baby equipment? Does any room seem crowded?

4. Ask about child to teacher ratios. For infants under two, the limit is no more than three babies per adult, but preferably no more than two, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

5. Find out about the education and training, as well as the turnover, of staff. It's best to find a center than has teachers and caregivers who are accredited by a national organization such as the Council for Early Childhood Professional Recognition. How many of the staff have associates degrees or higher in early childhood? How long has the caregiver(s) for your baby's age group been working there? Having a consistent caregiver is a crucial element for a successful placement.

6. Is the daycare accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children or the National Association of Family Child Care?

7. While observing at the center, notice whether the center looks clean, but also pay careful attention to how staff follows healthy procedures, such as sanitizing areas, washing hands, using gloves and so forth. Staff should follow the Universal Precaution procedures to prevent infection and illness at the center or among the children.

8. Watch to see how caregivers interact with the children, and each other. It matters how the staff get along, as you don't want your child in a place where there is in-fighting and discord and that is likely to mean higher turn-overs. Watch how the caregivers change a diaper for instance. Do they sing or talk to fussy babies? Do they talk and play with babies, or just provide basic care?

9. How open is the center? For safety's sake, you don't want it to be too easy to walk in without verification of your identity, but you want to feel welcome to drop in anytime.

10. Are infants provided with warm, loving care and a stimulating environment? What kinds of toys are available? How are the infants allowed to interact?

11. What kind of reports are kept by caregivers? Is there a record of feedings, diaper changes and napping times? Is baby allowed to eat on demand, or is there a schedule? Babies should have their own timetable for eating, sleeping and diapering.

12. Ask how different situations are handled, such as crying, fussiness, fevers, or accidents. These should be simple questions to answer for any staff member. Try to observe how tantrums, fussiness or messes are handled.

Besides thorough observations, talking to staff, and reading the center's literature, you should also see if you can speak to any parents for their insights. Also, never underestimate your own instincts about a place or the people. You need to feel comfortable with the center, its policies and the people who will be caring for your baby.

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