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Most daycare centers wont accept your name on a waiting list until you are at least in your 3rd trimester. Showing up unannounced at a daycare center might make you end up waiting to be shown around since most of them only do tours with an appointment only (they have a set schedule that they follow and if they had to stop even 2x a day to do a tour, it would disrupt the routine and at times get the children worked up). If you are looking for a daycare center, I would start calling around and asking what their waiting list policy is. Some centers might charge a 'holding fee'.
there are websites for you to do a full background check on anyone that you chose. Good luck!
I would also agree with 12 weeks. With DD, I got on a waiting list the summer of 2009 and she didn't get in to the center until August 2010.
I am only 10 weeks along and I am already on a waiting list. We live in a pretty rural area and good quality childcare centers are hard to come by. Lately the waiting time at this center was 4 months to get in, and there are already 2 expecting in January so I called and got my name in!
with my first, we waited until the second trimester. But this time, we've already got it taken care of (actually got an opening for later in the year where we can take DS and the new baby next spring). Good luck!
start at the beginning of your 2nd trimester. a lot of centers have long waiting lists so you'll want to get on it right away.