How to Choose the Best Daycare for Your Child
Updated: Sep 10, 2019
You are an AMAZING parent - you’ve loved, nurtured, snuggled, fed, changed, bathed, worried, cried, read, sang, lost sleep, and have done EVERYTHING possible to make sure this new little person has the best start in life. Now it’s time to place your precious little one into the hands of someone else. Where do you even start to look for in a daycare?!
Below are a few tips from BabyFirst’s Early Childhood Expert, Jessica Kohn, to help you choose exactly the right place for your little one to continue to grow and thrive in just the way that you want.
First and foremost, CHECK to make sure that the daycare centers you are exploring are licensed, insured, hire only qualified, credentialed, background-checked staff, have high staff to child ratios, and have a warm, approachable center director. Different states have different requirements, so do your homework. NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) accredited centers have very high standards and requirements in all areas (check out their website: https://www.naeyc.org/).
You should never compromise on any SAFETY ISSUES or SAFETY PROTOCOLS. You need to be able to leave your little one in daycare with complete and total peace of mind. Be sure that the caregivers are properly trained, that the center is licensed and has the oversight of some sort of organization who do regular inspections, and that there is a high-quality director to turn to if any issues arise. Make sure to find out what the safety protocols include. They should do regular fire drills during sleep and wake times and be prepared for emergencies. Find out what their policies about sick staff members or sick children are. Check out the materials and make sure they are safe and that the center is clean. It’s also important to note that just because a center is newer or more modern doesn’t mean that it’s better. Older centers that may seem more dated can be equally, if not more, filled with love, care and warmth. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
OBSERVE the interactions between caregivers and children. The caregivers should often bend down at eye level when they speak to the children. The language they use should be rich and warm and they should greet the children with smiles. During diaper changes and throughout transitions they should be constantly speaking to the children. You should see the caregivers sitting on the floor playing with the children and interacting with them during table-top activities. Socialization between the children should always be encouraged. Ask them how they handle separation anxiety and how they react when there is a discipline issue and make sure you agree with their protocols.
EXAMINE the environment. Look at how the room is decorated and make sure that it’s bright, cheerful and colorful. Most of the pictures and signs should be hung down low near the floor where the children can see them. There should be children’s artwork displayed around the center and soft music playing in the background during play time. Examine the play areas. There should be lots of books and the toys should be both age appropriate and challenging. All the materials should be clean and in good repair.
Ask about how the center COMMUNICATES with parents. The lines of communication should be open and the directors and caregivers should be readily available to parents. They should send pictures daily or weekly and you should be able to receive a daily report. Find out what systems they have in place to share information about feedings, naps and diaper changes with the parents and find out how the caregivers get to know you, your child, and your parenting style.
What does your PARENTAL GUT say? Never, ever discount your gut. Trust yourself. If you leave your visit and feel the warmth, love, and the professionalism of the staff and see happy, thriving children, you’ve found your place! If not, don’t be afraid to keep on looking!