Once you’ve screened your childcare options, schedule a visit at three to five group or in-home daycare centers. Make sure you see the following features before you enroll your baby
Happy Children and Staff
You want to see alert, content, clean babies in spacious rooms, with a quiet area where they can nap in separate cribs (and according to their own schedules).
Caregivers should genuinely seem energetic, patient and genuinely interested in the kids. Visit toward the end of the day to get a more accurate picture of what the center is like than you would first thing in the morning.
Look for lots of verbal and physical interaction between kids and caregivers.
• Does staff get down on the floor and interact with kids?
• Are the kids engaged (and not zoned out, looking off into the distance)?
Check as well for age-appropriate toys that are in good shape. And ask for a rundown of the daily activities, which should include lots of singing, talking, reading and dancing as well as on-the-floor playtime activities.
Separate Age Groups
Babies under 12 months shouldn’t be mingling with toddlers and older children — bigger tots can be pretty rambunctious and haven’t yet mastered being gentle with infants.
Your child can’t come and go as she pleases at home, so she shouldn’t be able to freely roam (or leave!) the day care center either.
Adult visitors should also be closely monitored so only staff and authorized grown-ups who are there to pick up and drop off can enter. More about safety and security here.
Clean and Healthy Setting
A well-run group childcare center spells out its health and sanitation rules on a sign, and then follows them:
• Caregivers wash hands after each diaper change
• The diapering and food prep areas are kept separate and scrubbed after each use
• Feeding utensils are washed in a dishwasher or are disposable
• Bottles are prepared under sanitary conditions
• Teething rings, pacifiers and washcloths shouldn’t be shared
• Toys are rinsed off with a sanitizing solution, and/or each child gets a separate box
• All children and adults wash hands when entering the classroom
Make sure that the day care provides a safe environment for kids by taking the same safety precautions you do at home. There should be:
• No choking hazards, including small toys or playthings that can break apart into small pieces
• No pillows or fluffy bedding in cribs; babies should be put to sleep on their backs
• Gates on open stairways
• Window guards on upstairs windows
• Spic-and-span kitchen and bathroom and (ideally) an enclosed outdoor space for play
• Clear floors (i.e., not littered with toys)
• Smoke detectors, clearly marked exits and fire extinguishers
Safety is Our Priority
Our extensive COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines ensure your child is in the safest environment possible. Click on the button below to learn more about our Health & Safety Guidelines