The first few months with your new bundle of joy can seem to fly by. Before you know it, it’s time to return to work. Depending on your company’s maternity leave policy, you’ll likely have to head back to work after three months. This is usually a hard time for new parents, because they have not been away from their baby for long periods of time. You may even be battling postpartum depression. One way to ease the stress of starting a new routine is to know that your baby will be in good, caring hands. When you choose a daycare for your baby, remember your baby’s safety and happiness — as well as your mental health — should be top considerations.
Ways to Choose a Daycare for Your Baby and Family
- Research the facility thoroughly. Pay attention to reviews and ratings by other parents. Ask other parents about what they’ve heard about the daycare.
- Get recommendations from friends and other parents whose children attend that daycare.
- Visit the facility and talk with the staff about expectations.
- Pay attention to how staff engage with the children (are they yelling, speaking calmly, showing compassion?). Do they use a positive discipline approach with young children?
- Ask a lot of questions about daily routines, staff to child ratios, and safety protocol in emergency situations.
- Drop by unannounced during the middle of the day.
- Ask what training the staff has in infant/toddler development.
- Ask if the caregivers talk, sing, and read to the children.
- Inquire if the children, especially babies, follow a strict schedule or if they are allowed to eat and sleep on their own schedules. You want a childcare facility that doesn’t force babies to sleep and eat on a strict schedule.
- Find out if special needs are accommodated.
- See if your family’s culture and rules are accepted and celebrated.
- Find out how staff communicates with parents (email, text, phone calls, letters).
- Pay attention to your child’s mood when you pick them up (sad, happy, distant). Trust your instincts if you sense your child is not getting the proper attention or positive support they need.
Daycares can play a major role in a parent’s life. Knowing that your child is being taken care of properly while you work can make all the difference for your family.