If you have decided to return to work after the birth of your baby, you will need to do some careful homework in choosing a caregiver for your infant. Many quality daycare centers may have a waiting list. If possible, start looking several months before your baby is due. Here is some info to consider;
There are three types of daycare centers – group, commercial daycares and in-home private daycares. Here are some tips on selecting the right one for your baby.
If your employer has a daycare for children of employees where the tuition is supplemented, the cost may be lower than that of other daycare centers. While you don’t want cost to be the main concern when choosing a daycare, the monthly cost of the daycare you choose needs to fit into your budget. Also, if your baby will be attending daycare full time, consider the convenience of the location in relation to where you work, especially if you plan on visiting your baby during lunch.
After setting criteria for budget and location, it is time to start researching the daycares that fit your requirements. One way to start your search is by looking for those with a higher accreditation, like that of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) or the National Association of Family Child Care (NAFCC). The websites of both the NAEYC and the NAFCC provide a list of accredited daycare centers in your area. Also, gather recommendations from other parents who are already using the daycares in your area.
Once you have narrowed the list of daycares you are interested in down to five or six, set up appointments to tour the daycares and interview the staff. During the tour, check to see if the daycare is clean and well equipped, with the proper childproofing measures in place. Also, note the overall environment of the daycare. Is there a positive feel? Do both the infants and the staff seem happy?
During your visit, interview the director of the daycare center. Ask questions about the licensing of the daycare center, their qualifications and qualifications of the staff. The director of a daycare center should at least have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. Also ask the director questions about her parenting philosophy, especially around feeding, discipline, and sleep, to ensure it matches yours.
As part of your visit, ask to have time to observe the staff in action. Note the ratio of staff to infants. It is recommended by the AAP that there are no more than three infants assigned to one caregiver. Watch how the staff interacts with the infants. Infants need warm, caring interaction with their caregivers. An in-home daycare should not have more than 6 kids, including the kids of the caregiver, and should not have more than 2 children under the age of 2.
Babies thrive on consistency and need to bond with their caregiver. Ask about the turnover rate at the daycare center you are considering to ensure it is not excessive. For an in-home daycare, ask the caregiver if she can commit to at least a year. After your baby has started daycare, keep your relationship with your baby’s caregiver strong by communicating with her in a professional, respectful manner on a daily basis. Working together as a team, you will be able to find the solution to issues that may arise and ensure your baby is having a positive experience at the daycare.
Check out our shopping guide here for a list of local daycares.