For me, daycare “shopping” for our first baby was pretty stressful. Looking back, there are some things I wish I would’ve known that could have made the experience smoother. My hope is that at least a few of these tips will help make your search just a bit easier!
1. Start Early!
Living in an urban area, I really underestimated how long a daycare wait list can be. We joined a waitlist when I was 14 weeks pregnant and still had to wait until baby was 4 months old before she got a spot. Give yourself plenty of time to research, tour and make a decision.
2. Create Your Must-Have List
Before finalizing a list of daycares to tour, create a “must have” list. For example, our daycare must-have list included a budget friendly tuition, the distance range we were okay traveling, a student-teacher ratio we felt comfortable with, and also included a few extras like parent-accessible webcams and an app to stay updated on each day’s activities.
3. Ask a Friend
If you have any friends with children in daycare or know any local teachers, ask for personal recommendations. You can also ask your pediatrician for any recommendations.
4. Tour and Ask Questions
Make sure to set up some time to tour each daycare you may be interested in. Come prepared with any questions that are important to you. Some questions that we asked included:
- What is your child to teacher ratio?
- Do you provide meals and snacks? If so, what do you serve?
- What is your vacation policy?
- What’s your sick-child policy? What are your policies regarding immunizations?
- How, and how often, do you sanitize the toys and materials used by the children?
- What are the tuition and fees? Is there a waitlist? Are there any types of discounts available (paying in advance, second sibling discount, etc.)?
- What degrees or certifications does your staff have? What training do they have? Do you conduct background checks on all your employees?
- Do you experience high employee turnover?
- How do you keep parents up to date on their kid’s daily activities or behavior? Do you offer a daily report?
- What security measures do you take for your facility?
- Are you licensed/ accredited?
When we toured daycares, some that checked all of our boxes still didn’t “feel” quite right. Touring was a great way to experience each place first hand and made our decision much easier. A good sign is when most of your questions are answered upfront!
5. Remember, You Can Always Switch!
When we first started our daycare search, I remember feeling so much anxiety over picking the “right place.” In my mom circle, there have been plenty who started at one daycare, and after some time realized it wasn’t the right fit. Remember that you can always change your mind or switch to somewhere new if ever needed- your little one will be just fine!