March 2014 Moms

STM - Questions about daycare

I know this seems premature, but the infant childcare market in our area is highly competitive.  I definitely will have to continue to work after pregnancy. We may end up doing a nanny or family member nanny, but in case we decide on daycare, I need to have us on the reservation list within the next month.

So my question is what do I need to be looking for when I go next week to tour the daycares?  When I talked to them on the phone, they all had such different sounding programs.  One center does baby-led schedules and another does set schedules.  The teaching programs were all different sounding as well.

I just feel overwhelmed with this and have no idea what I need to be looking for or asking about.  Any advice is greatly appreciated.

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Re: STM - Questions about daycare

  • I know it's hard to think about this so early on but i appreciate the need to look so early - in my geographical location, it's similar. The minute you turn a pregnancy test, you better be looking for daycare.

    I don't knwo where you live but here are the options for childcare around where i live:

    1. in-home daycares - usually can start looking for those about 1-2 months before you need daycare

    2. daycare centers - depending on the popularity, some have 9-12 months waiting list - usually most expensive options

    3. Nanny share - usually two mothers finding a nanny and one mother has the nanny at their home - more 'cost effective' way to get a nanny without bearing the cost by yourself - sometimes cheaper than daycare center.  

    What you'll find is that you can be on a daycare waiting list for a onetime fee of $50-$100, with the option to refuse but still remain on the list - if you're willing to do that with one or two daycares that you like, then you've got a guaranteed spot but can still turn it down if you find a better fit.

    I've been in both daycare centers and inhome daycares with DD and i can tell you a lot of the pros and cons of those if you're interested. However, the most important thing is to find a daycare provider that you intuitively trust, that has a parenting philosophy close to yours and that you can afford. It's a touchy dance but once you find the right one, you'll know it.

     I know it's hard to know what your parenting style is right now - but i'd just visit, see how clean it is, see how excited you are and decide whether you want to hold a wait list spot or not. There are some that you'll rule out by just stepping foot in there - everything will scream, 'no, no, no, NO!' - trust me ;) There are some that you won't be completely sure about and there's other that you'll LOVE but aren't sure that you can afford. There are also a host of questions you can ask DCP - just google 'daycare interview questions'. You'll figure out what you're willing ot live with and what you're not (and keep asking questions of moms here and moms around your area).

    Last piece of advice - if you're living in an area that has crazy commutes - pick a daycare that's close to your house and not one that's close to your work. If you have to call in sick or if you have the opportunity to ever work from home, it's super helpful to have the daycare close to home rather than work - it also allows a split of daycare pickup and drop off between you and your partner, if that's possible.  

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  • amsatamsat
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    Thank you so very much!  I appreciate the advice!

    I hadn't thought about in-home or nanny share at all!  I also was looking for centers close to my work and hadn't thought about having it close to home.

    I really appreciate your input.  I'd love to hear your pros and cons!

    BabyFetus Ticker
  • mcatmay gave great advice.

    Start the search early.  My main thing was that my gut told me it was a good person and their parenting styles were close to ours (though you'll never find someone the exact same.)

    For daycares both commercial daycares and inhome daycares have their positives and negatives.  Depends on the parents for which they like.  I prefer in home. (I actually worked in daycare in college).  I have a inhome daycare provider that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!  I like having the same person everyday.  I don't like the possible turnover in daycares.  The downside is there is no backup if the sitter (or her kids) are sick.  I also liked having a range of ages.  I didn't want my little one in a room of babies or like aged kids.  I have friends that wanted that though.

    If you go for in home, I suggest looking for someone who runs it as a business.  I have a friend with real-bad experience, but she always picked sitters that were doing it as a side job/way to stay home.  My sitter runs it just like a licensed center.

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  • Another random tidbit that I found helpful when looking at daycare centers - check out the staff turn over rate. The daycare we chose was one of the cheaper options and is not fancy at all. At the same time it is one of the most popular in the area b/c all of the teachers have been there for 20 years and love where they work and what they do. My daughter is so well taken care of. This is contrasted to the fancier schools we looked at. They were impressive to visit with their cameras and shiny new toys, but the staff age and turnover was crazy.

    Also, try not to set an appointment to stop by. You want it to be spontaneous and not when they feel will be best.  

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  • My daycare does baby-led schedules.  Each child gets everything, everyday. Naps, all meals, playtime, etc. but on their own schedule.  They did mention how difficult it would be to have a room full of babies on the same schedule. I'm okay with this, and DS has done very well there.

    I also checked out the surrounding daycares on the BBB website, and called any state agencies available that could give me information on the daycare.  Such as codes not followed, broken regulations, how many infractions they've had and how severe the cause. How they rate when the state does inspections.  This was very important to me, and I found out some things about daycares in my area that I wouldn't have known if I didn't do my own research.  Don't always go for the cheapest place, or the place closest to your house. Research!


  • amsatamsat
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    Thank you!  I will definitely do that!  I hadn't even thought of that.
    BabyFetus Ticker
  • Whatever you choose do a surprise visit. I think it's important to see how the facility is ran when parents aren't expected to show up. I have heard of some pretty awful stories.
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