Few experiences in life are as daunting as finding someone to take care of your precious baby. Perhaps the only one that comes close is leaving your infant in someone else’s care when you have to go to work. There will be days that your little one is clingy, unwilling to leave your arms and other days when they seem less than happy to see you at the end of the day.
That’s why it is so important to find a daycare where you know your baby will not only be looked after but also receive the hands-on care that tiny babies need to thrive. To help you make this crucial decision we’ve put together a list of questions you need to be answered before dropping your precious bundle off.
In the States, 95% of daycare centers don’t accept under twos for care. That leaves only 5% of centers nationwide that are licensed and willing to look after babies. This is, of course, the first tick mark you need – a daycare should be authorized by the state to take care of infants. Not that the license is the be all and end all – it doesn’t require care providers to be trained in early childhood education, and as much of 85% of such facilities go out of business in the first year!
So what you need to know and ask when you visit a prospective daycare are the following:
1. Are the carers trained to take care of babies?
Several institutions offer childcare training courses that result in the certification from the National Child Care Association and Council for Professional Recognition. Courses often focus on more than just educational elements, and sometimes includes first aid and resuscitation classes. Ask to see proof of said qualifications.
2. What is the carer to child ratio?
For infants, the ideal ratio is three or fewer babies to provide the appropriate level of care.
3. Do they have first aid training?
Accidents happen and often it is only the fast action of first responders that make the difference between life and death. While on this subject – have a look around the center – how childproof is the grounds and play areas?
4. What is the daily routine?
The answer will tell you if they will provide the necessary developmental stimulation, including story time, music class, interactive play and free play and activities that encourage inquisitive play. Note the emphasis is on play rather than learning as babies gain most from play-based programs.
5. What will baby eat?
Ask to see a daily meal plan. If you have concerns about food allergies be sure to ask how they will handle allergy care, especially later when little ones love to share their food.
6. Do they have liability insurance?
If they don’t have insurance, you will not be covered if anything goes wrong while your child is in care. Suppose your child falls down the stairs? If they have insurance, you will be able to claim your medical costs.
7. Ask for background checks
Ask for background checks on the teachers and do a check on the owner or principal yourself. This is one way to ensure that you don't expose your child to someone with a criminal record or worse - a history of child abuse.
8. Ask for references
While parents who have their kids in care at the center can be a valuable source of information, you should also do an online search to see if there were any complaints about the facility in question. Also, check how long the place has been in business.
9. What is included in the fee?
The last surprise you want is when you’ve carefully budgeted to afford the best possible care for your child, is one that involves hidden extras that you thought were included in the daycare package.
There is much to be said for trusting your gut after you have asked all the relevant questions. As the principal caregiver for your child, your sixth sense will probably warn you if something is amiss with the picture a daycare center is painting for you.