You’re headed back to work after maternity leave and have decided to find a daycare center for your infant. Whether you’re choosing between two facilities or ten, the whole process can seem overwhelming. Each of them probably look great from the outside – a warm, inviting space and welcoming staff (a best case scenario)! But what questions should you absolutely ask when narrowing down the field? After perusing some of our favorite parenting sites, we’ve determined 5 questions to ask when touring a daycare center. That said, ask as many questions as you need: no amount is too small when it comes to inquiring about your baby’s welfare.
On the center itself:
Is the daycare center licensed?
While licensure requirements vary by state, most states will make unannounced inspections of licensed facilities to ensure that the daycare is clean, that children are properly supervised, and that no complaints have been filed. Also important; it means that all employees have passed background checks.
Are your caregivers trained in infant first aid & CPR?
In the event of an emergency, it’s vital to know that everyone on staff is up to date on their training. During a catastrophic event every second counts, especially if it’s your baby who needs the help.
On general daycare policy:
Can parents drop by whenever they’d like or swing by to breastfeed? In general, what are the visitation policies?
While this might not seem like an important question, any hesitation from a daycare provider regarding parental drop-ins can be a flashing red flag. If they act like being surprised would be unwelcome, you have to wonder, what do they not want you to see?
What is the child to teacher ratio?
Look for a center with small groups of children and plenty of staff. The National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends having one caregiver for every three to four babies, and no more than eight babies in a group; one caregiver for every four to six children between the ages of 2 and 3; and a staff-to-child ratio of 1:8 to 1:10 for 4- and 5-year-olds.
What is your daily schedule?
An organized daycare should be able to provide you with a calendar of activities. Look for a well-rounded schedule that includes things like daily free play, story time, art, music, snack time, outdoor time, and quiet time.