6 things to be aware of when choosing a daycare
It is a fact that most women have careers and are keen to continue working after having a child. Some estimate that more than 70% of all moms work outside their own home. If you are such a mom you are going to be giving a lot of thought into who is going to look after your baby when you go back to work. One of the best options available is daycare although you may choose to rather employ a nanny or use a stay at home mom who takes in 3 or 4 other children as well as her own. Before choosing a daycare centre, schedule a visit to 3 to 5 different ones which you fancy. Before you enrol your precious little one here are 6 essentials which you need look for when you are visiting the centres:
1: Happy babies, children and staff
Go into the baby section and observe whether the babies are alert, content and clean. Is the room big enough and is there a separate quiet area where they can nap in their own cot, according to their schedule (not that of the staff!). The caregivers in charge of the babies should be energetic, patient and have a genuine interest in the little ones. Plan your visit towards the end of the day to get a more accurate picture of what the care is like than you would early in the morning when the staff are fresh.
2: Is the environment stimulating?
Is there lots of verbal and physical interaction between the babies, toddlers, older children and the caregivers of each group? Does the staff get down on the floor and actually interact with the babies and toddlers? And are the children interested in the games, stories etc? Have a look around to see if age-appropriate toys are around and in what condition they are. Ask for a list of the daily activities which should include lots of singing, dancing, talking, reading as well as outdoor play, weather permitting.
3: Age group separation
Keeping the various age groups separate is important. Babies under 12 months shouldn’t be exposed to the rough and tumble of toddlers and the toddlers shouldn’t be in the same area as the older children who can become impatient with them.
4: Locked doors
Once your baby is able to move around on his or her own he or she shouldn’t be able to roam out of his or her particular play area (a crawler in a toddler area is a recipe for trouble!). The entrances to the daycare centre should be closely monitored so that only staff and authorised adult visitors can enter. An extra bonus is if the centre has closed circuit monitors in each section so that should anything happen to your child, you can actually see what was going on!
5: A clean & healthy setting
The daycare’s rules for health and sanitation should be spelt out in a prominent place and you should be able to see if the staff are following them, such as:
- Washing of hands after a nappy change
- Food preparation and nappy areas should be completely separate and washed thoroughly after use
- Bottles are prepared under sanitary conditions
- Feeding utensils should be washed in a dishwasher or be the disposable type
- Teething rings, dummies and washcloths shouldn’t be shared
- Toys should be cleaned frequently and in the case of babies, the toys should be cleaned with a sanitising solution
6: Safety measures
The same precautions you take at home for the safety of your baby/toddler should be provided by the daycare centre. For instance:
- No tiny toys or toys that can break into small parts should be within reach of your baby/toddler as these can be a choking hazard
- No pillows or fluffy bedding in the cots. Babies should be laid on their backs for sleep time.
- There should be safety gates on all open stairways and window guards on upstairs windows
- The kitchen and bathrooms should be squeaky clean
- Smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and clearly marked exits should be available and the staff must know that procedure to follow in the case of fire.
The health, happiness and safety of your child is of great importance to you so follow your instincts when you are visiting a potential daycare centre. It may also be wise to know how many, if any, of the staff have first aid training. If there is anything about which you are doubtful and which the staff cannot reassure you about, then scratch that centre off your list! Remember to also ask for recommendations from other parents who use the daycare centre you are interested in.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with choosing a daycare centre. Either email me, firstname.lastname@example.org or leave your comment in the box below.
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