So, you’re about to take that big first step of finding a daycare for your little one. First of all, congratulations! Secondly, try not to stress too much. We know that leaving your baby or toddler in the care of someone else can be unnerving. Can you trust them? Will they be happy? Is it secure? We know these questions are probably running around in your head.
But with the right questions and a bit of persistence, you’ll be able to find the perfect home-away-from-home for your child, so much so that they probably won’t want to leave. With that in mind, check out our picks for the right questions to ask prospective daycares so that you feel confident and at peace while choosing a daycare that fits your family and child's needs.
Are they licensed?
First and foremost, you’ll want to ensure your daycare is legal and can prove it by showing their proper license documentation. Daycare providers must pass a rigorous background check and meet several state standards to be in good standing. To achieve peace of mind and know that your child is in good hands, a reputable establishment will be happy to provide you with recommendations from other current and past families in their care. If they are uncomfortable giving this information — it may be a red flag.
Learning plan / curriculum?
Depending on in-home or daycare centers, the learning structures are very different, some being more laid-back, encouraging play time, and others having more of a formal educational curriculum. Based on age, you may want to ask if they follow a schedule or outline of what kids are learning at each level and get a glimpse of the day-to-day activities.
What are the vacation days?
Many daycare centers and in-home daycares go on extended vacations throughout the year, and several charge during those off-periods. Make sure in advance that you have ample care options for when they are closed to avoid any scheduling mishaps.
What is the policy with a sick child?
Every parent knows that any place that houses large groups of babies and toddlers — daycares, schools, playgrounds, tot-gyms — are veritable cesspools of kid-sickness. All those germs mean plenty of coughs, runny noses, and sneezes but also a much stronger immune system for the future. Ask your daycare their protocol and policy on how long kids need to stay home before returning.
What food, drinks or snacks are provided?
Another question to ask your prospective daycare is their food, drink, and snack policy. Do they serve the kids breakfast, lunch, and snack(s)? Are you the parent expected to provide them with any of those meals? If your kid has allergies or special diet restrictions, whether vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or lactose intolerant, you’ll want to verify they can manage their unique needs. If not, you may be able to provide certain items each week, such as veggie hot dogs or gluten-free bread, so that they can accommodate.
What is the discipline policy?
Even the best-behaved kids can act out. Make sure to ask the daycare how they handle consequences for different ages. Do they sit down with the kids to identify their feelings? Do they practice positive reinforcements? It can be helpful to offer theoretical situations so you can make sure their procedures align with your values.
How do you communicate with parents?
Knowing how a daycare communicates is critical. Whether it’s an app, email, or phone call, it’s comforting to receive updates throughout the day. Some daycares will even update in real-time with details about meals, diapers, naps, achievements, and photos. Not only does it allow you to stay in the loop with your child’s activities, but it also helps childcare providers and teachers establish a relationship and become a cohesive unit.
Can we schedule a tour during working hours?
Many daycares will have scheduled group tours along with individual visits. A good tip is to set up a time when you, a partner, and your child can visit the facility and staff during drop-off or working hours to observe a typical day and see if the center or in-home daycare is the right fit.
At Doona, we’re here to make your parenting as simple as possible. That’s why we produce innovative, functional, and convenient products like our 2-in-1 Doona Car Seat & Stroller that transforms from car seat to stroller at the click of a button; or our Liki Trike, the world's smallest folding trike on the market. We wish you well on your daycare-finding journey. Happy hunting!