Finding childcare is one of the things that every new working mother worries about. Trying to decide who is the best person or organization to watch over your child can be time consuming and emotionally draining, but it is important. It’s never too early to begin looking for child care for your growing baby. Whether you just gave birth or have busted into the terrible twos, here are the best tips to securing good child care.
Decide What Type of Care You Want
First and foremost it is important to acknowledge what type of care will work best for you and your family. Decide what is best for your family and child by looking at the pros and cons between a nanny and daycare.
Employing a nanny is nice if you want someone to look after your children while also taking them to extracurricular activities, making them meals, and doing light housekeeping. They are a beneficial childcare option because they provide consistent stable oversight while creating a special one-on-one bond with your child. However, they can get quite expensive to employ.
Daycare facilities help provide important social interaction that children need. This introduces children to experiences they may not have at home. Since the employees are usually trained teachers, choosing a daycare can provide a more well-rounded experience for your child. Daycares will most often provide breakfast and lunches, which will take some responsibility off your plate.
Do Your Research
Before you even take the time to walk into a daycare center or invite a nanny over to your home, make sure you do your research on their reputation. Ask friends and family, daycare centers, etc. for their opinion about facilities or childcare professionals. The Child Care Aware hotline can provide you with a number to your local child care referral agency. This provides referrals based on licensed and accredited daycare centers in your area.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is a national membership organization that promotes high-quality learning for all children. If you can find a child care facility accredited by NAEYC, consider yourself lucky and give it honest consideration. Overall, make sure that you are choosing the best situation for your own child. Read reviews on Yelp, Google, or associated Facebook pages to give you an overall idea of a particular center’s reputation in your community.
Along with doing your research, make sure to check the references of the child care. If you find that friends and family are praising a particular daycare or nanny, find out what they’re raving about. Ask each daycare you are considering for a list of past and present references, and check in with them.
Of course doing this can cause a bit of bias, since most companies are not likely to refer you to people who were not happy with them, but knowing what other parents think of the care their child is receiving is important to hear. Ask them questions like:
- What exactly do you like about the center?
- What did you not like about it?
- Were there any problems with other children while your child was at the center?
By asking questions that help ease your concerns about a potential provider, you are bound to find a place that best suits your child and your family.
Find out whether the staff shares your parenting philosophies on things like discipline. Do they use time outs, spanking, or scoldings? And which do you prefer your children receive? What are their policies regarding television? Do they use it as a virtual babysitter? Or is it hardly used in the daycare? Are naps offered? And so on. The more questions that you ask early on in the child care shopping process, the more likely you are to be happy with your decision.
Look and Listen
When you have decided to tour a potential child care center, make sure to pay special attention to how the staff interacts with the children. In an ideal world, the employees will be on the floor playing with kids or holding them on their lap. In a baby’s first years, they need close loving relationships with adults in order to properly thrive. This is why it’s important to find a caregiver that is warm and responsive and able to give your child a healthy dose of one-on-one time.
If your child is a bit older, be sure to look for common signs of bullying. Even at a young age children are prone to bullying, and without the proper oversight from staff, it can be exacerbated quickly. By knowing what to look for in the symptoms of a child who has been bullied, you can make a quick decision about if the facility is viable or not for your family. If the caregivers in a facility look disinterested or unengaged in the children and what is going on around them, it’s in the best interest of your child to go elsewhere for care.
A qualified and specially trained staff is an advantage that daycare centers may have over nannies. Typically, daycare center employees must be educated with at least two years of college and must receive additional CPR and emergency training. A staff that you are comfortable with will share your philosophies on feeding, sleep, discipline, and other child care issues. A qualified staff will ask you detailed questions about your child’s health to determine whether their center is a right fit for you and your child.
Make sure that the daycare center has the appropriate staffing numbers so that your child gets the care and attention they need. NAEYC guidelines indicate that for babies and toddlers up to age two, there must be one caregiver for every three children in the facility. For children between two and three there should be one caregiver for every four children. Daycare centers are not required to follow these guidelines, so be sure to ask what the facilities ratios are and decide for your family if the number is acceptable. A reputable child care facility will keep their ratios of children to staff small, not matter how many employees they have.
Listen to Your Instincts
The final tip, but arguably the most important is to trust your gut. As a parent you will know when something doesn’t feel quite right. You may have an entirely different opinion about a local daycare center than everyone else you spoke to about it. If this happens, just keep looking. Babies and children deserve to thrive under attentive and nurturing care. If something doesn’t feel right about the daycare, check out your other options.
At the end of the day, making sure that your child is in the care of confident, kind individuals is important. Whether you are a working mother or just need some time to yourself, it’s important to thoroughly vet the child care you are considering. By taking the time to do your research before enrolling your child, you are more apt to provide a loving nurturing environment for your sweet babe.