As a mother’s maternity leave ends, many parents are faced with the prospect of leaving their children at a day care center. It is an anxious time and parents search for daycare centers that can provide their baby with the best possible care.
Here are some things to think about when making your choice:
- Is the provider near your home or workplace? Can a parent get there quickly in case of emergency?
- What are the working hours? What is their policy regarding parents who are late picking up their children?
- Does the provider welcome parent visits during normal operating hours? Can you inspect the areas your child will use?
- What is the sick child policy?
- Are there enough staff members per number of children, and is the staffing sufficient to cover absences?
- What is the policy on breastfeeding and feeding children expressed breastmilk?
- Are mothers allowed to come in during the day to breastfeed?
Once you’ve narrowed your list down, visit the daycares you’re considering and notice how they operate. Note any concerns you have about:
- How children are treated
- How clean the facilities are
- Whether the food seems to be nutritious and well prepared
- How safe the rooms are
- How much space is available for activities
- Whether the children and caregiver(s) there seem happy
- Any other such measures of quality child care
It is important that you start the process early so you can make an informed choice before you go back to work. Ask other parents in your area which daycare centers they used and which ones they liked, or did not like.