Many parents have a difference of opinion when it comes to raising a child, but one thing they can all agree on is how important their children are to them, and how imperative it is to find the right day-care facility. However, choosing a great care provider for your child is much easier said then done.
In a perfect world, one parent would always be able to stay at home, but we don’t live in a perfect world, and many couples are finding it hard to survive on one income. This is forcing parents to look for child care outside of their family.
Finding a daycare that is the right fit for you, your child, your family, and your schedule, can seem intimidating, but following the advice below should make it much easier.
Things to Watch For …
Before settling on a final decision, ask if you can accompany your child on a visit/tour of the facility. Most daycare centers are open to this request, and if they’re not you may want to continue searching elsewhere. This will give you the perfect opportunity to see first-hand how your child reacts to the environment.
Attentiveness Towards the Children
Perhaps the most important thing to watch for is the attentiveness of the caregivers. They’re the people you’re trusting with your babies lives and development. You should feel comfortable knowing that they’re dedicating their time entirely to the children they’re caring for, and not allowing them to run free while they sit on their phones. Keep an eye out for the behavior of the staff. Are they playing with the children? Are they showing kindness and compassion? Are they ignoring the kids for something less important?
Is the environment childproofed?
Many things are needed to care for a child daily, and some of those things are unsafe to children. Note where they keep their cleaning, and first aid, supplies. Are they somewhere the kids cannot get to them? Are stairs gated, and floors padded for inevitable falls?
Do they have age appropriate toys?
You probably won’t go rooting through the toy boxes (although, we wouldn’t judge you if you did), but you can quickly scan the room to get an idea of the toys they offer to children. Are the toys broken, or centered around one age group? Do they offer a good mixture of toys for different age groups, and levels of development?
Things To Ask About
One of the most important things for you and your caregiver to agree about is discipline, and how to go about it. Your tactics may differ from theirs, but they should always respect your technique and follow your guidelines. Ask what they would do in different situations (your child biting another, or not listening) and make sure you’re fully comfortable with their responses.
Obviously, right? Unfortunately, this question gets overlooked far too often. Perhaps it’s due to people assuming that someone must have experience to work within the field?
Whatever the reason, you don’t want to be one of the many people who has a horror story to tell, because you didn’t ask this important question. Never be embarrassed to ask, or push, for details about their employment history. If you feel the need to ask for references, even better.
This is just as important as their employment history. Children bond with their caretakers, and a baby-sitter should have a close relationship with everyone in the family. They are caring for, teaching, and watching your child grow, you want to know that they plan to be around for a while.
Hours and Schedule
Certain jobs may require their employees to stay later then they’re scheduled, or come in earlier. If this happens will you be covered for childcare? What if you get called in on a day you were not scheduled to work, or pick up a shift? Will they work with you? These questions should be asked in the beginning so you do not get blindsided later.
Do they have a sick child policy (they do not allow children who’re sick to come to the facility)? Do they have a back-up plan for when they come down ill? How do they care for sick children? Do they separate them from the other kids? Asking questions like this now will help you to avoid a disappointing situation later.
Meals and Snacks
Are these all provided by them at an extra cost to you, or do you supply your children’s meals? If you’re responsible, how do they keep your things separate from others? How do you know it is used just for your child? Do they have an approved snack, or meal, list, or can you send whatever you want?
Different Age Groups
Children need distinct levels of care at different stages of development. You want to be reassured that your baby is getting the care they require, and not being stuck in a crib all day. How do they handle the different age groups? Do they separate the older children away from the younger children? Is there a safe place for babies to get the floor time they need?
Things You Should Do
Keep a Journal
If they will accommodate you, ask them to keep a journal with you. You can write how your baby’s morning went, any concerns you may be having, or instructions for things like a diaper rash they may currently have. Have them jot down small notes about how your little ones day has gone, and anything unusual or important. This is a great way to open a line of communication that goes both ways, and a good way to identify problems in a routine.
Trust Your Instincts
Parents have an unbelievable talent for instinct when it comes to their children. They can normally tell when something is not adding up. If you have a concern about something, or feel like something bad might be happening, follow up on it. You might end up regretting it later on if you don’t.
Address Problems Promptly
Waiting too long to address a problem or concern will only give it time to fester and turn into a much larger issue. You should always approach the caregiver with any concerns you have right away, and try to respect their opinions too. At the end of the day, it’s your child, and what you say should be how it’s done, but they are with your child all day, and may have a good point also.
It’s Not Jail, You Can Leave
If at any point you feel uneasy about the care they’re giving your child, question their methods, or have tried to fix a problem with no response from them, you can go somewhere else. You’re not bound to them because you chose to go there, and can leave anytime you wish. It’s advisable to leave on good terms if possible, you don’t want to get a bad reputation among the baby-sitting community.
Our children are the most important thing in this world, and should be treated as such by both their parents, and their caregivers. You’re choosing a person who will hold the fate of your child in their hands each day they care for them, so it’s important to choose wisely. Remembering, and doing, all of the above mentioned things will ensure you choose the correct daycare provider for your baby the first time!
Are you currently going back to work? Looking for childcare? Or have a story about when you did go back? Let us know about your experience in the comments below!