You have probably just spent the last three months at home with your new little bundle of joy while on maternity leave, and your return to work may feel fast approaching. Since your little one was born, you have been inseparable.
Perhaps you trust only your partner and close family to watch him or her, but you have found that you need to adapt and get ready for the reality of childcare. Whether you are a new mom who plans to return to work, or you are a father who only trusts your baby with momma, that first drop-off at childcare can be very tough.
Your baby will be with strangers in a new environment, without you by his or her side. It sounds scary, but there are wonderful childcare options out there. You just need to know what to look for. Here are some tips to help with your search and eventually put your mind at ease with drop-off.
Child Care: What you should consider
1. Find a program that has the right amount of room helpers/room. Most daycares and other childcare facilities are highly regulated by the states in which they operate. Most states require only a certain number of children per room and a certain number of teachers (or helpers) per child. You want your child getting the right amount of attention and care, so pay close attention to their rules and operating paradigms, which should be explained very clearly upfront.
2. Check reviews. In this day and age, there are plenty of online reviews, so you can see how others’ experiences match up with your expectations. If you see multiple grueling reviews, it should be enough to scare you away.
3. Go for a tour and meet the teachers and helpers who will be engaging with your child. This one cannot be overstated. For a parent to be at ease with childcare, you must establish a high level of trust. You cannot trust someone you have never met or some place you have never seen. Any reputable childcare facility will expect you to want a tour. In fact, most daycares have an appointed director or other member of the management team whose main responsibility is providing tours to would-be members’ parents.
All of your questions should be answered, and you should feel warm and fuzzy about your precious baby’s potential new caregiver. Engage in a conversation until you feel some level of trust. It’s understood that trust is earned, but you need to at least feel some level of comfort after a good conversation. No questions are bad questions, so ask away until your heart is content.
4. Find out if the staff is CPR-trained. For you to feel comfortable dropping off your little one, you need to know that people on staff are equipped to handle your baby in the event of an emergency. Daycares will typically require helpers and teachers to not only know CPR, but to be CPR-certified. Childcare without CPR certification should be a deal breaker.
5. Find out about sick and vaccination policies. You will want to be assured that your childcare facility has appropriate policies around illness. The general rule of thumb is that the policy should require sick children to be kept home fever-free for at least 24 hours. This helps keep the yucky sick germs out of the crowd. You will also want to be sure that vaccinations (and proof of vaccinations) are required for all children attending.
6. Is there an app that allows you to review your baby’s day? Many childcare facilities have an app that summarizes your baby’s day and even provides live updates. This can include how many wet diapers, when and how much your baby ate, and when they got their precious sleep. These apps will often include pictures and even video of your little one throughout the day.
You need to feel a sense of comfort with the place you drop off your little one every day. Once you have childcare you feel comfortable with, you can go about your day and focus on the things you need to focus on. This level of comfort can be achieved as long as you do the proper research and follow the tips above.