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How to Choose The Right Daycare for Your Child
It’s a bit traumatizing when you have to drop your child off at a daycare or a babysitter’s house for the first time so you can go back to work, but having reliable childcare makes the process a lot easier. So, how do you find good childcare?
Type of childcare
First of all, you want to take into account the different options available to you. Daycare isn’t the only option. You may also want to consider a nanny or a babysitter. The latter two often come only as referrals. A nanny will probably be pricier while a babysitter may be more or less expensive than a daycare depending upon the sitter. Both a nanny and a babysitter will be able to take care of your child within a home environment.
Once you’ve thought through the type of childcare you prefer, it’s time to start searching for it. The best way to find amazing childcare is through word of mouth. Ask for referrals from friends and people you know. They can find you all the dirt a website or advertisement won’t tell you and they’ll be brutally honest. If a place comes highly recommended from a trusted friend or acquaintance, it’s worth checking out.
There’s nothing quite so irritating as working hard all week only to give most of your paycheck to your childcare provider. It’s frustrating to work hard and only earn enough to pay for someone else to watch your children. Childcare needs to be affordable or it isn’t worth it. At the same time, if you go too cheap you may not get the quality your child deserves.
Visiting the childcare provider is a must. Look at the setup. Is it clean? Neat? Organized? Are there places for play, changing diapers, sleeping, and eating? Is there colorful artwork hanging from the walls? Are the children there happy and engaged? Are the surfaces easy to clean? Is screen time limited or non-existent? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then there’s a good bet that it’s a plausible option for you.
Adult to Child Ratio
Ask what the child to caretaker ratio is. Your state will have a requirement for that ratio based on the children’s ages. For instance, in the infant room in my kids’ daycare, the required ratio is one adult to every five babies. That number changes as the children get older. Learn your state’s requirements and hopefully you can pick a daycare with a higher adult to child ratio so your little one can get as much attention as they need.
Routines and Schedules
Ask about things like daily routines and weekly schedules. Is there circle time? Do they take potty learners to the potty regularly? Are they careful to be sure that there are always two adults present when a child is helped with the potty or getting their diaper changed? When is snack time and lunch time? Are meals provided? Do the children go outside regularly? Does the daycare do field trips or walks and if so are you able to opt out if you so choose?
I know it sounds simple, but you may find all sorts of useful information about perspective daycares on google. From a website which will have official information and photos, to pages that post reviews of local businesses. These days, Google can give you a little bit (or a lot) of information on just about anything.
My children have all been breastfed and cloth diapered. Those are non-negotiables. When my husband and I chose a daycare we wanted to be sure that the caretakers would use our cloth diapers and that they knew how to handle breastmilk. Your child may have an allergy or a disability. When you interview for childcare, you want to be sure that a daycare or babysitter is capable of handling those needs.
Trust your gut
Maybe everything about a childcare facility checks out but you still just don’t feel right about sending your precious little one there. Possibly, your child doesn’t feel comfortable with the daycare or babysitter, even after spending enough time there to have adjusted to the newness of it. If a place just doesn’t settle right with you and your family, then you should trust your instinct and search for care elsewhere.
Finding a good daycare might take a little bit of time, but in the end, knowing that your child is in good hands is well worth the effort.