Sending your child to daycare for the first time can be a scary and overwhelming prospect. We all want the best for our little ones and it is extremely difficult to hand over the care of your children to a stranger. Finding a daycare provider that you can trust is the key to making the whole process far less painful. Give yourself plenty of time to carry out the necessary steps and you should be able to find a daycare that suits both you and your child perfectly.
- Ask around. The best references won’t be on the internet, they’ll be from people you already know and trust. Ask friends and family who have small children where they send their little ones and get detailed feedback of their experiences with the daycare.
- Check the certifications. Before you even look at a daycare, you should check to make sure that they are officially certified to care for your precious children. Look out for accredited centers listed by the National Association for the Education of Young Children or the National Association of Family Child Care. These associations’ websites will also be able to guide you toward accredited facilities that you can trust.
- Visit plenty. You won’t be able to get a good sense of what a daycare is like unless you visit it for yourself. Don’t be afraid to show up without an appointment- most daycare providers will be more than happy to give you a quick tour and answer your questions, and showing up unannounced may give you a more accurate picture of what’s going on than if you’ve booked ahead.
- Interrogate freely. Some moms are nervous about asking a million questions when they visit a daycare- don’t be! Think ahead of time and bring a list with you of everything you want to know about the facility’s schedule, curriculum, food menu and sleeping arrangements- no question is off limits.
- Avoid the crowds. Although a popular daycare may be a good sign, you will want to find a facility that has a low ratio of children to caregivers. Crowded daycares can lead to unintentional neglect, so seek out smaller facilities that offer more individual care.
- Check the philosophy. It’s important that your care provider is on the same page as you when it comes to parenting philosophies. Make sure that you know what their stance is on discipline, feeding and sleep. Ideally, their philosophy should be in line with your own. If you feel uncomfortable with some aspect of the way they run things then look elsewhere.
- Create a smooth transition. Once you’ve decided which daycare to go with, give your child a chance to get used to the idea of being away from you by easing them through the transition. Start off with just a few hours at daycare and gradually build up the number of hours and days that they attend. This will prevent too much separation anxiety from arising and will help both of you get used to the new setup.