Finding the Best Daycare for Your Child

Finding the Best Daycare for Your Child

You may need daycare for your child if
both you and your partner work.

It’s important to find daycare that
fits your child’s and your family’s needs. You can hire a sitter to come to your home. Or
you can enroll your child in a daycare center. These centers can be in a commercial space
or in another person’s home.

Things to think about

Before you make a decision on a
daycare center (or another daycare situation), here are a few things to think about:

  • Check that the center has a
    state license. Ask about accreditation.

  • Research to see if the center
    has had any violations in the last 5 years.

  • Check that the staff is
    certified in CPR and has had a comprehensive criminal background check.

  • Look for good staff-to-child
    ratios and check that the caregivers are certified. A good ratio might be 1 adult
    per 3 children under 1 year old. Or it might be 1 adult per 7 children 3 years
    old. Or 1 adult per 8 children 4 and 5 years old.

  • Check that discipline doesn’t
    involve isolation, humiliation, or intimidation. Check that the center’s
    discipline policies agree with yours.

  • Look for a specific
    diaper-changing area, with a sink, separated from the rest of the facility. Watch
    to see that staff members wash their hands at the right times. This includes after
    diaper changes and before snacks or meals.

  • Check that the center was
    planned with children’s safety in mind. Outdoor play areas should be protected
    with materials that can take impact.

  • Check that the center’s food
    and drink meet your child’s dietary needs. Snacks and naps should be on a
    schedule. If your child has any food allergies, talk with the staff members. They
    should know how to keep your child’s snacks separate. This will keep the snacks
    free from contamination with foods that could make your child sick.

  • Ask about policies for
    special cases. These include when your child is sick or when you’re stuck at work
    late.

  • Ask if they have current parent references you can contact.

Sleep safety guidelines

If you have an infant, make sure
the center follows guidelines to reduce the risk for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)
and sleep-related deaths.

These guidelines include:

  • Placing your baby on his or her back during nap time or while sleeping

  • Using a firm sleep surface

  • Keeping soft objects and loose bedding out of the crib

  • Making sure vaccines are up to date

  • Offering the child a pacifier at nap time

  • Not letting the child get overheated

  • Keeping your child away from tobacco smoke, alcohol, and illegal drugs