How to Choose a Daycare

Choosing a good daycare is one of the most important things a parent is called upon to do. Make an appointment for an interview and tour of the daycare facility. Ask to tour of all the departments, not just the one your child will be in. Upon introduction you should ask to see the last state inspection report. It should be prominently displayed. A licensed daycare must be inspected regularly by a state inspector. You must take the time to read the report. Inquire about any infractions and judge for yourself whether they are deal breakers.

Inquire about the director’s qualifications and credentials. Look at the decor, making certain  it is bright, clean and cheerful.  This will be your child’s home away from home. You want them to be happy here.

As you go through each area, stop and observe the caregivers and their interaction with the children in their care. In the infants area, really be hands on in your inspection. It would not be unreasonable to ask to see the bedding and cleaning procedures for the cribs. Take time to watch a caregiver change a diaper and observe their  sanitizing and hand washing procedures. Inspect the toys, highchairs and swings. They need to be clean and in good repair. Ask about how much time your baby will be left in bed. Do they get personal time with the caregiver? Ask about the caregiver to child ratio.

Some daycare’s are so regimented, that little time is devoted to interaction with the infants. Make certain they are moved from time to time and offered stimulation. Inquire about their feeding schedule to make sure they will be able to accommodate your wishes. One of the most important things is to build a good relationship with the individual caregiver. If they are open and welcoming in their approach, you will feel much more comfortable in leaving your child in their care.

Any daycare that doesn’t allow you to visit is suspect. An unexpected  visit can be an eye opener and help allay any misgivings you have.

The same basic rules apply for the toddlers and older children. Take the time to observe the caregivers during lunch and nap time. Make sure they are given nutritious  meals and snacks. As soon as your child becomes vocal, ask them about their experiences during the day. Inquire  about outside play time. Many parents think that their children are being taken out as a matter of course, and often this isn’t the case. Steer away from one that doesn’t have a regular outside play time. You’ll find that infants are hardly ever taken outdoors at day care facilities. Most consider it too much trouble.

Before you finish your tour, ask about regular fire drills and what their procedure is. Fire drill instructions should be posted throughout the building and followed to the letter. And above all, caregivers should meet the minimum requirements for continuing education, first aid and CPR. You want them to know what to do in an emergency.

If you treat your caregiver as an extended member of your family, they can be a valuable asset in raising happy, well adjusted children.