Finding the right childcare can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. When you search for the right caregiver for your child you should look for an environment that is safe, fun, happy, and nurturing, which means approaching the process like you’re the boss and you’re hiring a new employee. Do your research, look at their job history, ask questions, be thorough, and insist on specific things.
Here are eight tips to help you choose the right childcare:
- Identify your priorities. Decide what you want. Write down all of your must-haves in a childcare provider, so that you may refer to it when interviewing any potential daycares. You can also include a list of would-be-nice to break any ties between child care providers who can offer all the must-haves.
- Visit and Interview. Find out what your potential future child care providers have to offer. Ask them why they enjoy their jobs and how long they have been in the childcare profession. Taking care of children is a big responsibility, and someone who is in charge of other people’s kids should have a passion for the well-being and nurturing of each child.
- Ask for a commitment. Whether you are looking for in-home care or are considering a center, ask for your provider to give at least a one year commitment. Babies need consistent and predictable care.
- Do a policy check. Find out what their policy is on discipline (do they have time-outs, scolding?),
food and snacks (are they packed with sugar or do they provide healthy snacks?), television (will the television be the babysitter or do they restrict the amount allowed to watch?), and sleeping (when are naps offered and how do they handle fussy babies?).
- Pay attention to interaction. Visit any potential childcare centers and pay attention to how they interact with the children who are already enrolled. Ideally, a caregiver should be holding them in their lap or on the floor. In order to thrive, babies need close, interactive relationships with adults.
- Be a spy. The best way to find out the true colors of any caregiver is to drop by unannounced to see how they interact with your child. Check to see that they are keeping the center clean and kid friendly. Watch what happens when older children share the space, and make sure that toys with small pieces (choking hazards) are kept away from younger babies. Swings and bouncers may seem appealing at first glance, but babies need plenty of floor and movement time for their muscles to develop. Stopping in from time to time may confirm you made the right choice, or it could be the warning you need to look elsewhere.
- Trust your gut. Follow your instincts when interviewing potential centers or babysitters. Sometimes the most raved-about babysitter might not feel right for you and your child. Follow your gut and you will find what is right for you and your baby.
- Be open to change. Something that might have seemed like the perfect fit at first may turn out to be a littl
e too tight after all. Do what is best for your child. You are not committed to any particular person or situation, and if things don’t work out, you can always make a switch to something that is right for you.
The most consistent source of love and care will always be you, no matter what your work hours. With your guidance, along with a loving and nurturing caregiver, your baby will flourish, grow, and become a happy healthy child.