Congratulations! You just had your first baby. You have enjoyed every minute you have spent with your new bundle so far, but you still need to pay the mortgage, so it’s time to head back to work. Maternity leave is never long enough and it feels like it zooms by in record time.
Now is the time to find the perfect daycare for your baby. You want to find the perfect match for your family, and with these Top Ten Tips, you will have smooth sailing.
Top Ten Tips to Find the Perfect Daycare
- Post in your local Mom’s group, or even on Facebook. Does anyone have a daycare that they love? You will be surprised at how many responses (both good and bad) that you will get. Ask your friends to share your post so their friends will weigh in. Personal reviews of a daycare should guide you to finding the right child care centers to look at.
- Go on MANY tours. You can even start touring daycares towards the end of your pregnancy. You should visit all the daycares in your local area and then make a list of your favorite ones. The ones on your favorite list, visit a few more times! When you finally come to the decision of which one you will be using, you will know it.
- Learn about what type of accreditation each daycare has. The type of accreditation will tell you a lot about the standards they follow and the teachers they employ. Find out if the daycare is NAEYC accredited, or whether it has received accreditation from your state.
- Ask questions. What types of teachers do they employ? Do the teachers have degrees? How long has each teacher been working at the daycare? The answers to these questions are very important. You are hopeful that the teachers all have Education degrees and that they have been working there, and enjoying their job, for a very long time!
- Use all your senses. When you visit the center, look around closely: does it smell pleasant, do the children sound happy?
- Spend time on the playground, are the kids having fun or are they standing around looking bored? Is there a safe area to take babies on walks on nice days?
- Consider cost. Does this price fit into your budget? If this is your first baby, you never had another expense like this to factor into your life until now. Does the amount you will pay make sense? You do not want to pay your entire paycheck directly to the daycare. If that is the case, maybe you need to look at your state’s subsidy program or consider finding a stay at home job where you can keep your child with you.
- Review the child/teacher ratio. How many other babies or children will one teacher be responsible for? Does this number feel reasonable to you?
- Think about security. Would you feel safe leaving your child there every day?
- Go with your gut. If something feels strange about one of the sites you visited, it probably is not right for you.
It will take some work to find the perfect daycare for your child and your family. When you find it, you will know it, and feel at peace. You are the best judge for the place your child will feel most comfortable.
This post originally appeared on RealityMoms. It has been reprinted with permission.
Sara LaFountain is a tired mom to five kids ages 7, 11, 14, 16 and 19. Sara and her oldest son took over the school lunch program and she’s counting down the days until summer vacation. Sara’s whole family, even the dog, love to help work on the blog Cookwith5kids and YouTube channel.