If you’re going back to work and plan on putting your baby in daycare, often the thought of leaving your baby with someone else all day when you are at work, makes you want to never leave your baby at all. This is a big decision, especially when this is your first baby.
But if you're planning to return to work, you are not alone - some estimates state that more than 70 percent of all moms work outside the home.
Choosing your daycare
Depending on where you live, you may need to leave yourself a little more time to find a daycare. It's a good idea to start looking at least two months before you plan to go back to work to find daycare, though that may depend on where you live. If you live in a large city, you may want to start checking out your options before your baby even arrives.
Here are a few things to do:
- Do your research. Get recommendations from other parents and your pediatrician. You can also check online resources for childcare referral services or with the state regulatory agency.
- Interview centers. Screen centers over the phone.
- Check the center out in person. Visit in person and see if it checks off all the basics (see below). Trust your instinct.
- Check references. Take the time to call former and current clients to find out how happy they and their kids are with their experience.
- Drop by unannounced. Before you make your final choice, consider stopping by unexpectedly on another day to get a truer picture of what the group daycare center is like.
Screening questions for your daycare
Once you've got a few options in mind from your pediatrician and other references, get a feel for the places you are considering over the phone by asking:
- What is the cost (tuition and application fee) and schedule?
- Is there a waiting list?
- What is the facility’s accreditation?
- How many children are cared for?
- What is the childcare philosophy?
- What qualifications and experience does the staff have?
- Are the parents involved?
- What are policies regarding immunizations?
- What are the health requirements for caregivers?
- How are sick kids handled?
- What is served for kids to eat?
- How long have the teachers been on staff?
- How is the staff screened?
What to look for when you visit a daycare
Once you've screened your daycare options, schedule a visit. Make sure you see the following features before you enroll your baby:
- Happy children and staff
- A stimulating environment
- Separation of age groups
- Locked doors
- A clean and healthy setting
A well-run group daycare center spells out its health and sanitation rules on a sign, and then follows them:
- Caregivers wash hands after each diaper change
- The diapering and food prep areas are kept separate and scrubbed after each use
- Feeding utensils are washed in a dishwasher or are disposable
- Bottles are prepared under sanitary conditions
- Teething rings, pacifiers, and washcloths shouldn't be shared
- Toys are rinsed off with a sanitizing solution, and/or each child gets a separate box
Make sure that the daycare provides a safe environment for kids by taking the same safety precautions you do at home. There should be:
- No choking hazards, including small toys or playthings that can break apart into small pieces
- No pillows or fluffy bedding in cribs; babies should be put to sleep on their backs
- Gates on open stairways
- Window guards on upstairs windows
- Spic-and-span kitchen and bathroom and (ideally) an enclosed outdoor space for play
- Clear floors (i.e., not littered with toys)
- Smoke detectors clearly marked exits and fire extinguishers
The first few days and weeks after your baby starts daycare may be very difficult. You may feel worried, scared, or jealous. All these feelings are normal and as you become more comfortable with the childcare provider and see that your baby is cared for, you should begin to feel better about the decision. However, if you have a bad feeling, trust yourself. You are not married to any childcare situation. Do what is best for you and your family.
Making Baby Drop Off at Child Care Easier
Getting the day started is often a challenge. Here are a few suggestions to make the separation at the childcare setting a little easier for both of you.
0 to 7 months
- In early infancy, your baby primarily needs love, comforting, and good basic care to satisfy emotional and physical needs.
- Young infants usually will transition to a consistent childcare worker in almost any setting. However, this separation may be difficult for you during this initial settling-in period.
7 to 12 months
- Stranger anxiety normally occurs at this age. Your baby may be reluctant to stay with anyone outside his family so the unfamiliar setting of a childcare center also may be upsetting.
- If possible, do not start childcare during this period, or just ease into it. If your child is already in a program, take a little extra time each day before you say good-bye. Create a short good-bye ritual, say good-bye and then quietly leave. Most important – be consistent from day to day.
12 to 24 months
- This is when separation anxiety peaks and your child may have the most difficulty when you leave.
- Be understanding but firm and persistent. Reassure your child that you will return when you are done at work or have finished your errands.
Having time on your side is one way to ensure that you’ll get the best daycare for you and your baby’s needs. At T’s Learning Center V, the premier infant daycare provider in Nocatee, FL - St. Johns County area, we provide a soothing atmosphere that recognizes each baby’s natural feeding, sleeping and play rhythms. Our infants’ day consists of cuddling, rocking, reading books, exploring age-appropriate toys, singing and so much more! We look forward to helping you transition to infant daycare as you return to work.