Today, I am providing you with important tips to help you choose a daycare for your baby. If you have been following this blog post series from the beginning, you should have already accomplished a lot throughout this process.
This step of choosing a daycare should be pretty easy if you have completed the previous steps. If you are just now joining me in the process of finding a daycare, make sure to start with Part 1 so you can start identifying your needs.
5 Important tips on how to choose a daycare
Look for a reputable and licensed daycare
There are different ways to find a reputable, licensed daycare. Yes, things can happen at a licensed or unlicensed daycare. But at least licensed daycares are regularly inspected by the state to make sure they follow the required standards, regulations, and laws. Those inspections are conducted in areas like certifications, trainings, background checks, safety, staff to kids ratios, and more.
But, just because it’s a licensed daycare, doesn’t mean that it’s the right one. There are still several factors to take into consideration such as other people’s opinion about that daycare. Find out what people are saying by checking the comments and reviews that they have posted on the internet, including websites, forums, and social media.
Meet the daycare staff
After years of working in Human Resources, I can tell you that there’s a difference between employees and engaged employees. You want to choose a daycare with an engaged staff who truly like their job, workplace, and who enjoy working with kids. You want positive, happy role models around your child who can inspire and motivate them every day.
You also want a staff who believes in having an open communication with parents. As a parent, it’s important for you to know what has happened with your child that day and anything new at the daycare including minor incidents or even illnesses that could affect your child.
An awesome staff with seniority is definitely a plus! At Corporate America, having a group of employees with many years of service is always a sellable point for any prospective employee. Because seniority usually translates to happy, loyal and engaged employees. And that’s normally achieved through a positive work environment that results in less turnover.
What does all that have to do with a daycare?
Everything! 🙂 A positive work environment is a plus at the time to choose a daycare. When the daycare staff members have worked together for a while, they know each other and have already found out ways to work better as a team. That not only benefits the daycare but parents and kids too. Having the same staff members showing up to work every day, make kids feel stable, safe, and give them the opportunity to build a better relationship with their caregivers.
People in charge of kids have to be properly trained to handle different situations. That’s why it’s important to keep their skills current and to complete every training on time. That supports the importance of the first tip: choosing a reputable, licensed daycare.
Check the daycare’s organization and cleanliness
An organized daycare benefits your child in many ways. Because the organization is more than just the way it looks. It includes the daycare’s decoration, curriculum, routines/schedules, and of course, orderliness.
The daycare should be decorated in a way to make kids feel happy and welcomed. And, it should be designed for kids to explore and learn at the same time. Since kids react positively to bright colors, it’s not a coincidence (or lack of creativity 🙂 ) to see many daycares decorated in a colorful way.
Make sure to choose a daycare with a well-structured curriculum because of its benefits. It provides guidance to daycare providers on what needs to be covered. It focuses on helping kids to develop different learning areas and skills, helps to create consistency across different locations and among staff members, including new employees. Having a structured curriculum also makes it easier for the daycare to share with parents the upcoming topics and activities.
Routines and schedules have positive benefits for adults as well as in kids. That’s why a curriculum is as important as having a daily schedule in place. Experts agree that a daily routine helps kids feel less anxious, more confident, and able to handle changes more positively. Plus, let them sleep better at night which is a huge plus for you! 😉
In addition to evaluating the cleanliness during the daycare tour, check how often they clean the toys and furniture included in your kid’s area. And, ask them about their procedure when a kid gets sick. Many daycares have a designated area where sick kids rest until a family member arrives.
Last but not least, orderliness. An unorganized daycare can create an unsafe environment where kids can trip over, cut themselves, or have major accidents. And, that takes us to the next tip…
Ensure a safe environment for your child
As I just mentioned, the organization goes hand in hand with safety because an unorganized daycare creates a dangerous environment for kids.
Take everything into consideration when assessing the level of safety in a daycare. It’s not uncommon to only focus on evaluating the indoors but keep in mind that outdoor areas are important too. Look for red flags such as hanging cables, uncovered electrical outlets, unlocked entrance doors, unfenced patio, unmonitored drop-off/pick-up process, etc.
Some things are not necessarily considered red flags but you may prefer to have them in a specific way. For example, you may want to choose a daycare with covered playgrounds in hot weather states or one with security cameras throughout the facility.
Trust your gut feeling when choosing a daycare
After following the previous tips to choose a daycare, make sure to trust your gut when making the final decision.
And, that’s what I didn’t do! 🙁
I searched, pre-screened, and toured different daycares. But, because of our corporate jobs, I felt the pressure to make a quick decision. I had a bad feeling about one of the daycares but still decided to focus only on the facts such as its close location, affordable cost, and extended hours of service. I completely ignored my gut feeling and ended up enrolling my little one in that daycare.
On that first day, I kept telling myself that there was no reason to have that bad feeling. That day, I planned for my baby to stay at the daycare only for a few hours. But, not even that discouraged me from calling the daycare twice to check on her status.
After my husband picked her up, he mentioned that all the infants in the room were sleeping at the same time. All infants sleeping at the same time?!! That really concerned me. My daughter was sleeping so profoundly that she wasn’t responding to anything. She looked very weak and couldn’t eat or even open her eyes. She was completely out!
Her behavior was so awkward that we ended up calling the Pediatrician who asked us to take her immediately to the hospital. After several physical check-ups and a few hours, she finally woke up! As a mom, it was such a scary situation that I still get chills every time I think about it. I was lucky that she went back to normal but I didn’t take her to that daycare ever again!
After that scary situation, I decided to trust my gut feeling (after following a process)…
As you can imagine, after that incident, I started my search for a daycare all over again. But this time, I decided to trust my gut as part of the process. After evaluating different daycares, I chose a daycare for my baby. This time, I didn’t have to convince myself that my little one would be okay. At the end of the day, I felt even better when I picked her up and her behavior was completely normal.
My advice to you?
Do the research AND trust your gut feeling. If you feel that something is not right, then keep researching until you feel more comfortable with that daycare, or just move on to another one. Listen to your gut feeling and you will have peace of mind!
Final Thoughts on Choosing a Daycare
You did it! You have completed the last part of this blog post series on How to find a daycare.
This time, we went over five tips on how to choose a daycare. These tips include researching, observing, and following your gut feeling.
Before finishing, don’t forget to get the free daycare worksheets if you haven’t done it yet. Those forms include a ranking system to help you choose a daycare.
I would love to know how the information covered in this series has helped you. Best of luck to you and your family on this journey and let me know how it goes!
Do you have a tip that you would like to share? Let me know in the comments section.