How To Choose an Infant Day Care Provider

Day care provider

When you become a parent, your life changes in many ways. You get less time to yourself, less sleep (a whole lot less!) and it can often feel like there are less hours in a day. Your to-do list grows. If you will be returning to work, the item at the top of that list is to secure a warm, nurturing daycare environment for your baby. Choosing a daycare provider for your little one can be challenging, but there are some things that you can do to make the decision easier:

  1. Decide on the type of care that you'd prefer. The most common choices are private nannies, daycare centers or home daycare providers. Each option has both advantages and disadvantages, and each family must decide for themselves what will work best for them.
  2. Ask around. Talk to friends and family members about their children's caregivers. If someone has nothing but nice things to say about their provider, ask for a referral.
  3. Start looking into childcare options in advance. You do not want to feel rushed as your back-to-work date approaches.
  4. Keep an eye on the number of children that your provider will be caring for. Babies require a lot of attention, so you do not want your caregiver's energies to be spread too thin.
  5. Ask about the provider's training and experience, especially with infants.
  6. Be sure that the provider is CPR certified and practices SIDS prevention techniques.
  7. Look around. Does the environment seem safe and clean? Are all outlets covered? Is there a fire extinguisher and first aid kit nearby? Are stairways equipped with child safety gates? Responsible daycare providers take active measures to secure the safety of the children in their care.
  8. Talk about your preferences regarding sleep and feeding schedules. Do you expect your baby to be comforted to sleep or would you prefer that she learns to self-soothe? Do you feed your baby on demand or try to adhere to a fixed schedule? Be sure that the prospective caregiver is aware of your preferences and is willing to accommodate them.
  9. Look to the future. Ideally, you will find someone that will be able to care for your child through preschool or beyond. Be sure to inquire about the caregiver's willingness to care for a toddler or school-aged child.
  10. Be clear on terms. Many providers charge additional fees for early drop-offs or late pick-ups. Know up front what costs are involved.
  11. Inquire about the caregiver's disciplinary techniques and be sure that you are comfortable with her preferred methods.
  12. Ask about meal times and menus for toddlers and older children. Your baby will be on solid food in just a matter of months; learn about your caregiver's policies on meals and nutrition. It is common to require parents to provide breast milk or formula and baby food, but most caregivers provide meals for older children.
  13. Do a background check. Your caregiver, as well as any other adults who will be in contact with your child during the course of the day, should be willing to undergo a thorough background check.
  14. Be sure that your provider carries sufficient insurance.  This detail is especially important if she will be taking your child on outings and field trips.
  15. Trust your instincts. Even if a person has years of experience and glowing references, if you feel uncomfortable with her, look for someone else.


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