Questions for Your First Daycare Provider

Questions for Your First Daycare ProviderOne of the hardest things I have ever done is find quality childcare for my baby–somebody that I trusted to care for my sweet child while my husband and I were both at work, and then trust that decision enough to leave him there.

I’m not alone. I don’t know many moms that didn’t cry in the car after leaving their baby the first time. Scary stories like these don’t help worried parents, either.

So, how did I find the right fit for us? Well, it was nerve wracking; I researched Internet lists of questions to ask, polled every person I was even somewhat acquainted with for referrals, and finally put my boots on the ground and visited the top contenders. I fretted endlessly over what to ask. After visiting one potential sitter’s home, I was really able to hone the questions I needed to ask and the things to look for.

Whether it’s a center or day-home, assess the caregiver and the environment. Does it appear clean and safe? Do the children appear happy, or do they seem stressed? Are there age-appropriate toys in good working condition, and if there’s an outdoor play space, does it seem safe?

The provider will likely give you a tour of the daycare and also run down the policies. If it’s not outlined, you will want to be clear on closures, sick policies, and vacation policies. They should be licensed by the local government and also have a current CPR certification. They should have a plan for emergencies as well. Tuition and fees should be clearly outlined.

Third, how many children are there total, and what is the adult: child ratio? If it is more than one provider, are all of the adults CPR certified?

Fourth, what do the children do each day? Even if it’s a home-based daycare, it’s good to see structured plans with age-appropriate activities planned in. Little to no television is preferable for many parents. They should show you where your child will take her naps. Food is very important topic to discuss; in the places I have lived, meals and snacks (beyond breastmilk or formula) were provided. Ask about what kinds of meals are served and when.  Allergy issues with any of the children should be discussed as well.

Fifth, ask for referrals (and check them)!

Sixth, does the provider ask YOU questions? Do they ask about your child’s temperament, feeding or nap schedule, likes and dislikes? Do they ask you about discipline (assuming your child is old enough for this)? You want a provider that’s interested in your child and his development.

Once you have found the perfect provider, your work isn’t done. Pay careful attention to your child’s reaction to going (don’t worry, crying is totally normal at first), and if they are talking, make sure to ask questions about their day. Bumps and bruises happen to kids, but if your child gets injured, the provider needs to be up front about how it happened (and you will of course want to make sure they take the necessary precautions that it won’t be a repeat occurrence).

Finally, use your mom intuition. Even if this is your first child, I promise you have mom instincts. Trust them. Between your observations and the information you are told, you will know when you have found the right person or facility. Likewise, if something seems off, trust your gut on that, too.

Meaghan Howard is a mom to two boys and a steady stream of foster dogs. She and her family currently live in Japan.

Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.