One of the greatest feelings in the world is when you bring a new baby into your family. At that moment, you make a promise to yourself and to your baby that you will do everything in your power to keep her safe and protect her.
Then, much sooner than you would like, the moment arrives where you must entrust someone else to look after your most cherished being. You start asking yourself questions. “Will they look after her the way that I do?” “Will they know how to soothe her when she starts crying?” “Is she ready?” “Am I ready?”
We as parents understand this anxious time in your life, so we created this list to help calm your fears, to help you be prepared and know how to make sure to ask the right questions. Here, is our breakdown of how to ensure that you ask the daycare the right questions before you commit.
Pre-visit: Daycare Questions to Ask Yourself
In reality, finding a daycare provider needs to occur before your little one has even entered the world. In some cities the competition is fierce and you need to be proactive with your search.
Before you even begin to make your list of questions to ask the daycare provider for your infant, baby, or child, there are a few questions that you must first ask yourself.
Do You Want Home Daycare or Public Daycare?
Typically, home daycare allows for your child to be in a smaller group within a home environment while public daycare means that there will be more children around. There are many other differences between the two, more information can be found at Today's Parent or Baby Center.
Do You Need Part-Time or Full-Time?
If possible, knowing what your schedule will be like once you or your partner return to a regular work schedule will help you decide on whether or not you will need full-time daycare or part-time. Part-time can sometimes be harder to find because often daycare centers prefer full-time attendance.
Licensed Versus Unlicensed Daycare
There are some key differences between the two, a licensed location is more regulated, requires inspections, and can have state funding, whereas an unlicensed daycare has more flexible rules. The variety of types of daycare is quite extensive, the Official Personnel Management (OPM) government website offers a child-care resources handbook to answer many of your daycare questions.
Prioritized Questions to Ask the Daycare Provider
Now that you have narrowed down your preference to the style of daycare you need and prefer, you are ready to conduct some live research. Look online, make some calls, and talk with friends about what is available in your area; call and set up a time to talk with the providers and tour the facilities.
There are a few questions that are the most important to ask first, how the provider answers will help you to decide if it’s worth your time to continue with more questions or time to move on and find a place that better suits your needs. To save time, we suggest you ask your primary questions on the phone before you commit to a visit.
Primary Questions to Ask Daycare:
- Ratio. How many children per caretaker?
- Hours and Cost. What are the hours; extended hours, and the cost of each?
- Food. Does the cost include snacks and lunch?
- Availability. Do you have any openings? How long is the waitlist?
Once you have the basics covered you can move into your next batch of questions to help narrow down which daycare will be the best place for your little one. Todaysparent.com has a printable checklist that you can gain some great ideas from, but below are some of our favorites to ensure you are completely prepared.
Secondary Questions to Ask Daycare:
- Activities. What sort of activities do you provide for the children? Are they inclusive of well-rounded stimulation that also includes some downtime?
- Food. Are the meals and snacks healthy and do they meet all the needed nutrition requirements for growing bodies?
- Alternative Foods. What are the alternative food options to cover food allergies or religious food requirements?
- Outdoors. Do you provide all-year-round outdoor time? How much time is spent outdoors?
- Communication. How do you communicate with the parents?
- Good Behavior. Do you promote positive reinforcement for good behavior?
- Poor Behavior. How do you deal with bad behavioral problems?
After the staff has answered your questions to your satisfaction you will want to have a tour of the center or home. Match up their answers with what you see around the daycare center; bring along the following checklist to ensure it meets your needs and standards.
But before you bring out your checklist, watch the video below to see how a daycare should run their facility and some extra questions to ask your potential daycare.
Daycare Tour Checklist
Babylist.com and care.com have their own useful checklists, which includes many of the previous questions from above, but there are few extras you may want to include on your list, specifically, when you are actually taking the tour. Below is our checklist of things to look out for.
- Do you see any possible safety concerns?
- How do they separate the infants from the older children; do they have separate staff for each age group?
- Are there any credentials posted on their walls or in their office? Are there any awards they may have recently won, such as “best daycare?”
- Watch the providers and see how attentive they are with the children.
- Are they consumed by their mobile devices and not paying enough attention to the children?
- How clean is the play area, the bathroom, the kitchen, and anywhere the children eat their food?
- Look at the child-to-staff ratio, make sure it is accurate to what they say it is.
- Where will your child take a nap? Is it conducive to a beneficial naptime?
Making the Final Decision
If you don’t find a daycare that feels right for you, or even if the one that you do like is out of your price range, don’t become disheartened. This is a process and one that can take some time, which is why we advise you to begin your search before your baby has been born.
Being put on a waitlist is a great option if you have found one that you really like but the availability doesn’t quite match your timeframe. Find one that ticks off the most boxes on your checklist; you can always change to another site if it doesn’t work out.
Connect with Us
Our intention with our list is to ensure that you find a daycare provider that has your child’s best interests at heart. One that is going to help your little one transition well into her school years and beyond.
These questions have been tested and are approved by parents who have already had to find a daycare for their baby, so they have our previous parent’s seal of approval. If you find our list beneficial in your daycare search, please share if you liked it with others who may also need the help.