Top Tips for Choosing the Right Daycare for You and Your Toddler
Choosing a daycare can be one of the less exciting but most important decisions we make as parents. You may be filled with anxiety about leaving your child in the care of someone new or stressed about returning to your work-life after such a significant change at home, or even just adjusting to a new routine. It's natural for this transitional time to be overwhelming for a family. No matter what point you are in your journey to choosing a daycare provider, here is a simple list to help guide you towards making the best choice for you and your child.
Make sure the location works with your routine.
When you're defining your search area, before setting up a tour (and possibly falling in love with a daycare), make sure that the location fits your needs. Is it easily accessible on your morning and afternoon commute? When your child is at the center, how far away will you be? Are you familiar with the community, parks, neighborhoods, and shopping centers nearby?
Is the daycare center available during the hours that you need them?
Does your schedule require out-of-the-ordinary work hours? Don't forget to factor in your commute times. Some daycare centers have strict rules regarding pick-up times, so don't leave yourself scrambling through rush-hour traffic to meet their deadline. Make sure the times are feasible and work with your daily schedule but don't forget to check the calendar for summer vacations and holiday closures.
Monthly payment types and discounts.
While this may not play a huge role in your daycare search, having the option for automated payments can be a huge time-saver and one less thing to worry about each payment cycle. Some centers may even offer options for daily, weekly, or monthly payments. If you have a friend or relative who is also looking for a daycare provider (or maybe in the future), be sure to check for referral discounts. It's a great way to take advantage of little extra savings.
Talk with the teachers and staff. How do they talk to you? How do they speak to your child? Do you feel comfortable talking with them?
It's essential to feel comfortable talking to every person at the daycare. When taking a tour, try to schedule the appointment so that you'll have a chance to meet everyone you and your child will be connecting with regularly. It's natural to take the lead, but it's a great idea to watch how the staff interact with your child.
Safety and staff training.
How often do the staff go through safety training? What are the safety features of the building? If there are cameras in the classrooms, who has access to the video feed? Do you feel safe at the location? If you have any questions or want to understand the atmosphere at the daycare better, talk to other parents or ask for references. The real advice here is to trust your instincts.
If you're going to be using any included items in the cost, is it something that your child will actually eat/use?
Some daycares have really done an amazing job creating healthy and delectable sounding meal plans. Still, it's a good idea to review the menu (for a couple of months if possible) to check that it is actually something your child will enjoy eating. Others may have no opinion on eating Kale Goulash every other week, but if your child is a picky eater, you may be left packing a lunch from home.
If your daycare is providing formula and wipes, make sure that you have a chance to review the brands and options to ensure that you will feel comfortable having this available for your child at the center.
If you still plan to bring items from home, be sure to review them with your daycare to ensure you follow their policies and procedures. If you want to provide almond milk for your child, does the daycare allergy policy allow food from home?
Think about educational and social value.
Think about what your child will be doing each day while you are gone. Is there space for your child to play outside? Do they go on walks? Are there activities to encourage them to learn more or hit educational milestones? Is there a curriculum that is followed throughout the year? Even if your child is starting as an infant, keep in mind your child's future and how fast they grow. How will your baby play and socialize with their friends?
These are some basic questions to ask yourself and your family as you gear up to begin the transition into daycare life. If needed, don't take on the challenge alone, be sure that your entire household gets to be a part of this exciting time. You'll all think of things differently, so this is a great way to get different perspectives. If you haven't already had enough advice from local family and friends who have gone through the search before, reach out to them and find out what experience they may have for recommendations in your community.
When the time comes, as many parents have experienced, you'll make this decision in the best interest of your child and be on to the next adventure of creating a new regular daycare routine. Good luck!
That'll do it for our top tips for choosing the right daycare. If you have any other questions that we did not cover here, please feel free to reach out to us on social media.
We’ll talk to you next week on The Weekly Bubble!