How To Choose A Day Care Wisely

As with all things to do with babies, there is no such thing as only one perfect childcare option that’s suitable for every family. If Mom needs to work outside of the home, a trusted nanny, caring granny or loving day mother is best, but often, families need to send their child to a day care facility.

Before choosing your daycare, take these considerations into account:

  • Decide if it’s the right time to place your child in daycare.
  • The younger Baby is, the easier it is on the one hand (as separation anxiety has not yet set in) and the more complex on the other (for instance, babies really need personal attention to thrive and weaning a breastfed baby onto bottle-feeding is not easy).
  • Practicality is important. Ask friends and community centres (like libraries and well-baby clinics) in your area about daycare options close to your home or workplace. Your budget will influence which option you choose, but try not to let money get in the way of good childcare.
  • If possible, choose the care option with the smallest possible child to caregiver ratio, as children need a lot of personal interaction to develop well and happily. Babies need more one-on-one contact than toddlers.
  • Not all facilities offer full day care. Some close over school holidays, others charge extra for afternoon and after-hour care. Find out before you sign up.
  • Ask to visit the facility for a few hours with your little one. Observe closely while you’re there, to help you assess if this is the best place for your baby.
  • Ask about ‘house rules’ like whether or not little ones must be potty trained before a certain age. Children are individuals, and your little one should not be penalised for taking slightly longer to reach her milestones – it’s probably still well within normal limits, and it can be harmful to try and force milestone attainment.
  • Don’t confuse untidiness with poor hygiene. If it looks like little ones are having fun and there is a little confusion, this does not mean the facility is poorly kept, but that it is child-friendly. Check the bathrooms and kitchen though, which should be kept scrupulously clean.
  • Safe equipment that’s in good condition is essential, but this must be accompanied by top-class care from devoted caregivers.
  • If the daycare provides meals, check the menu, especially for an emphasis on freshly prepared, healthy foods.

Once your child is in daycare:

  • Pop in unexpectedly at different times of the day. Assure staff that you won’t disrupt them, but this will give you insight into what happens when parents aren’t around. Be cautious if there is resistance to this.
  • If night sleeps are disturbed, ask that daytime naps are made shorter. If things don’t improve, find out if medicines are used to promote sleep.
  • When you fetch your child from daycare, make sure that you don’t have too many chores to do at home. Every time you cook, make a double portion to free up time on another evening. Discover your inner child as you play games with your little one. Bath together for a dollop of extra-special interaction. Massage your baby daily for 10 minutes.
  • You will miss out on some ‘firsts’, but if you treat the first time you see anything as special, you’ll rejoice just as much.
Remember, don’t hesitate to ask difficult questions and don’t be fobbed off by vague answers. This is your baby’s life at stake!