One of your "to-do's" while pregnant is to visit an infant daycare center to see if this type of child care would be a good fit for your family. Even if you feel that a center is not the right option for you try to withhold judgement until you visit one and see if for yourself.
When choosing an infant daycare center keep several factors in mind, including how close you'd like them to your home and job, what their hours of operation are, their cost of tuition, what programming they offer, and future education options for when your child reaches preschool age.
Based on these factors, narrow down your choices, schedule a personal interview with the director and perhaps a few teachers (if available) and take a tour the facility to see what the rooms look like and they kind of equipment they have.
To make the most competent decision avoid basing your decision on what others people think of a center. Instead read the reviews about a daycare center you'd like to visit and create interview questions based on them. Research their website to see what they have to offer and include questions about them. Last be sure to include these five questions to ask a daycare center:
1. What is the infant to child care provider ratio?
You don't want your infant to be one of many children assigned to one childcare provider. An infant needs constant attention, so that ratio should be as low as possible. A favorable ratio would be one childcare provider to three infants or fewer.
2. What's the daily routine?
Make sure your newborn's development includes stimulation and learning opportunities, which may include music class, storytelling, one-on-one interactive play time or the use of baby sign language to help communicate with children before they can speak.
3. What milestones are infants expected to reach in their daycare setting, and how does the infant daycare center track them?
From making the transition from a bottle to a sippy cup to crawling for the first time, infants are continually developing and reaching milestones in the first year of their lives.
Ask what programming is in place at the infant daycare center to track and encourage that babies reach these milestones. Then research this curriculum to see if you think it's fitting for your child.
4. What options are in place to have your child "grow" within the daycare center?
Children in daycare have the extra advantage of being in an early social situation with their peers. In addition, the opportunities for learning in this setting comes at an earlier age. Many parents want their child to stay in the same environment until kindergarten. For this reason, you need to ask about future educational opportunities, such as if the daycare center follows nursery school and pre-k curriculums. if you know that your child will miss the cut-off date for Kindergarten it's important to see if they will offer a Kindergarten class to help your child transition well to public or private Kindergarten.
5. How does the infant daycare provider manage children with allergies, especially food allergies?
If your infant is prone to having a food allergy -- usually these are children of parents with allergies -- you want to know if the infant daycare provider will be looking for early signs, such as a hive break-out.
If your baby develops hives, it's imperative that the infant daycare provider can recount all the food the child ate that day. It's also helpful to learn if there's a nurse on staff who can treat a child right away if an allergic reaction occurs. Thankfully due to the high rate of food allergies in children, many infant daycare centers are peanut free.
Edited by Elizabeth McGrory