Finding and settling on a daycare for your new baby is intimidating and stressful. There are so many things to consider when it comes to choosing where your baby will spend a good chunk of their day while you're at work. If you do a quick Google search, you'll find sample lists of questions to ask and what to look for in every center. It's overwhelming and can leave a parent wondering if they really did enough research on the center.
The good news is that for infants, very little is needed beyond a lot of snuggles, but that doesn't mean you can just pick the first daycare you see on the road and assume it will be okay. You need to be comfortable with who you leave your child with day in and day out, but there are definitely some things that those lists you'll find on Google will tell you to look for, but that honestly don't matter.
10 Matters: What Your Gut Says
If you walk into a daycare center that is pristine, the director answers all of your questions perfectly, but for some reason, you just feel uneasy - that matters. In this situation, your gut is trying to tell you something and even if you can't put your finger on what the problem is, you'll never feel completely comfortable handing your infant over to these people.
Your baby can't speak yet and they can't tell you when something is wrong in the classroom, so it's up to you to keep a close eye on things, and your gut instinct is one of them!
9 Doesn't Matter: Bells And Whistles
There are some basic things every daycare center should have like a secure entrance so strangers don't wander in. However, things like cameras, high-end crazy security measures, text message updates all day, or the newest and shiniest toys don't give your child any extra care - they just bring up the tuition price.
Some bells and whistles are nice to have (and you may think certain ones are essential), but any center that is decked out in all the "latest and greatest" is trying to win you over with those things which can distract you from other things that matter.
8 Matters: Opinions Of Parents Whose Kids Have Gone To The Center
As previously mentioned, your gut instinct is key when it comes to picking a daycare center for your baby - but if your gut tells you it's a great place and your friend says her gut didn't like it and her kid never went there, check out some different sources first.
Go into a community parents group on Facebook and survey them to see if any of them have sent their kid to the center you're considering and chances are good they will be more than happy to share their experience with you. Parents whose kids actually attend (or attended) the center will have much better insight than a parent who just opted not to send their kid there.
7 Doesn't Matter: Infant Room "Curriculum"
As kids get older and closer to entering kindergarten, preschool curriculum is important to consider when placing them in daycare. However, infants really don't need any set curriculum. Daycare centers should have a basic schedule laid out for the little ones, but for the most part, you want somewhere that will love on your baby, pick it up when it cries, introduce it to age-appropriate toys, and let it sleep and eat when it needs to.
There are no magic toys or formal education that will make one baby learn to grasp objects better than the next - at this age, development progresses at its own rate and every child will catch up to each other regardless.
6 Matters: How You Feel About The Teachers
How you feel about the teachers at the center is one of the most important factors when choosing a daycare. These are the people who will be caring for your child all day long, several days a week. When you go on a tour, look through the window of the infant room before going in to see how the teachers are interacting with the babies (are they smiling at them and engageing them or simply putting them in bouncy chairs while they play on their phone).
You're putting your little one's life in these people's hands, you need to be sure you're comfortable with them and their methods of caring for a baby before agreeing to send your child there.
5 Doesn't Matter: The Center's Pitch On Their Cleanliness
Don't get us wrong, a clean daycare is absolutely important (we've all seen the really gross ones). However, if the director is spending a lot of time talking about all of their cleaning measures and pitching it hard, don't get too excited. The fact is, every daycare is crawling with little germs because kids are messy (sorry, but it's true - it doesn't mean we don't love those little snotty noses any less!).
Little ones have their hands in their mouths, don't know how to blow their noses, and despite all the times they are told to cover their mouths when they cough, they never do. Make sure the place is clean, but don't fall for a sales pitch that promises the cleanest facility in town.
4 Matters: Your Budget And Schedule
You're likely sending your child to daycare so that you can get some kind of work done outside of the home. If that work requires you to be in the office at 7 am, you need a center that opens early enough for you to do drop off and get to your desk on time. Additionally, if you have a tight budget, that matters, you shouldn't go bankrupt over sending your child to daycare.
If you've fallen in love with a center but they are way out of your price range, it's okay to settle for choice #2. In the end, you are paying for a service and that service has to fit your needs, otherwise, why are you paying for it?
3 Doesn't Matter: Payment Convenience
For some reason, daycares love to add in their easy payment system when they're pitching to parents. Everyone loves online bill-pay, that's no secret, but who in their right mind would send their kid to a daycare they don't love simply because paying online is easier than writing a paper check once a month?
If you need the option to pay with a credit card for reimbursement purposes, that's absolutely something to consider, but if the daycare is just really excited that they have online bill pay, that doesn't mean they are any better than another center down the street who doesn't offer that luxury.
2 Matters: Staff Turnover
You've probably heard how important a schedule is for your child. It's not necessarily because all of the research shows that a 6:30 pm bedtime will turn your child into an angel, it's because it's been proven that consistency is important for children to feel safe and grow.
If a daycare center has a high turnover rate, that means two things: one, that employees aren't being treated well and there could be larger problems within the center and two, your child will be subjected to a lot of teachers over the course of its care at the facility. Always ask how long teachers have been with the school, if the room is full of teachers with less than a year tenure, move on.
1 Doesn't Matter: Staff Age
Daycare centers have a lot of rules and regulations in order to operate. They are constantly being checked on by authorities and agencies in their state. Typically, any teacher is required to have some kind of certification, license, or training in order to work at an early childhood care facility.
So, if you see a young person in the classroom, don't assume they're too young to care for your child because they went through the same training as the 60-something grandma in the next room (and, their training was probably more current). The age of the teachers shouldn't matter, as long as they love your kid, who cares how old they are?