There is nothing more precious than your child, and when both parents have to work, you need to find a place where you can feel comfortable leaving your child for many hours during the day. While no one loves your child like you do, you can find trained, qualified childcare centers where your baby will have fun and learn lots of valuable skills before entering school. Finding the right daycare doesn't have to be a stressful experience. If you know what to look for, you'll have no trouble finding a daycare that fits your needs and makes the whole family happy.
Accreditation and Qualified Staff
There are only around 7,000 childcare centers that have been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. This is the highest accreditation that is available, so if you can find one of these centers, you're in luck. However, just because a center hasn't reached that status doesn't mean it isn't a good place for your child. Take some time to meet the staff and find out about their qualifications. Trained staff members should have degrees in early childhood education and they should be understanding and friendly. Lots of childcare centers have glass windows where you can watch the staff and children interact. Take advantage of this and watch the staff work with the children. Also, check to be sure the center's license is up-to-date.
Kids need rules and structure. If you are checking out a center and they don't seem to have firm rules or seem too relaxed in their stance on discipline for your liking, it's probably not the best place for your child. You want your child to have unstructured playtime to let his or her imagination grow, but you also want to have other, structured time during the day. This can help your child learn a routine that can take them into their teen years and beyond.
For many busy, working parents, location is a very important part of the childcare search. You don't want to be driving 20 minutes to daycare and back another 40 minutes to your job. This eats into your time with your child before and after work. Furthermore, if your baby is breastfed, you may want a center that is within walking distance of your work so you can take breaks to feed him or her. Try to find a center that is close to your home or work if you can.
Cleanliness and Good Food
This may go without saying, but check the center for cleanliness and good food. If the center cares for children that eat solid food, you want to be sure that the meals your child receives are up to your standards of nutrition. Remember, you are paying for the food as well as the childcare, so be sure that it's good and that there is a good variety. Make sure, also, that the center is clean. This doesn't just mean that clutter is picked up and organized. Ask about cleaning policies and the products they use the clean the center.
Trust Your Gut
Above all, you need to trust your gut feeling. If you walk into a center and it seems that everything is perfect but something feels wrong, something probably is wrong. You know best when it comes to the health and well-being of your child, so don't sell your gut feelings short. If something doesn't feel right, keep looking. You'll find the perfect place eventually.