2nd Trimester

Infant care waitlist tips

Hello all,
TLTR: If I want to ensure that my infant gets into daycare when I return to work, how many waitlists should I sign up for?

I've read that infant care waitlists are incredibly long (looking at 6-12 months to get into a daycare). I'm due in February 2023 and am looking to begin daycare in July 2023. I'm lucky enough to have a 6-month maternity leave here in the US. I'm on one waitlist already, and there are 15-20 families ahead of me. They said that they don't expect an opening in July 2023. I'm touring another daycare in a week and plan to get on the waitlist. I also have a tour in November, which is insane to me that it is so far out, but plan to get on that waitlist. My question is, how many waitlists should I pursue. I've done a ton of research, read reviews, and have read through the official inspection reports, complaints, and investigations. There are only three daycares that I'd feel comfortable pursuing in my city. But, do I need to plan for more than 3 waitlists to get my future child into daycare? How many waitlists to you plan to get on? There are two other daycares outside of my city that I like, but I don't know if it is worth pursuing them just to have more options if my top three choices don't work out.

I'm not super comfortable with in-home daycare, nanny, or babysitter options, and our closest family members are a 2-hour drive away. Luckily, my husband and I both work from home and might be able to spend 2-3 months flexing our schedules so that one of us is always available to take care of the baby, but that would be temporary. I'm really crossing my fingers that a daycare eventually works out! It's so stressful planning for this!


Re: Infant care waitlist tips

  • Hi there, from my experience when looking for daycares when my son was an infant….unless you’re paying to secure him a spot on the waitlist….I don’t think waitlists are a reliable thing tbh. I was put on multiple “waitlists” and never received a call and every time I’d call they would be rude and say that there’s nothing they can do and to just wait. To this day I have never heard from multiple daycares & that was 1.5 years ago I got put in the “waitlists”…So we just said screw it and had my MIL watch him. Now that he’s almost 2 we moved to a city that has more options and I found one I liked. They had a 2-3 month waitlist for his age but a longer one for infants. However they were able to promise me a spot for sept if I paid the registration fee. 
    The problem with infants is that parents get on the “waitlist” before they’re even trying !! And they give priority to families that already have a child at the school. I’m telling them as soon as we start TTC. It sounds crazy but it is what it is. I would ask the process of the waitlist. I’ve seen some that you have to pay but it guarantees you a spot at some point. There are some that go in order and there are others that send a notice out to all families when a spot becomes available and whoever signs up first gets it. Best of luck! 
  • @swizzlemalarkey, thanks for your response. The waitlist that I'm on currently is a free waitlist. They said that they always call in November to confirm whether or not people still want to be on the waitlist for the upcoming year. With only 15-20 families, I'm hoping it won't be too bad. I've heard of waitlists with hundreds of families. However, most of the daycares here have a fee of $50-$300 to get on a waitlist. I don't believe this guarantees you a spot, it just gets you on the waitlist. I assume it is to try to keep their waitlists smaller perhaps. Families with children at the school already do get priority. Otherwise, I think that they all just go in order here. I have heard that the more flexible you can be the better. For example, not many offer part-time for infants, but for those that do, if you are willing to start with even a few days, you might be more likely to get a spot than if you will only accept a full-time spot.

    It is crazy to me that people are on waitlists before becoming pregnant. I'm 15 weeks, and I thought I was early since I don't need a spot for another 11 months. But, that's not enough time. Lol.
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  • Definitely, I think that place sounds decent then and you will hopefully have a good shot at getting in. Because the families that become desperate will find other care. It’s just so hard because usually the ratio is low for the infant room and turnover and finding staff is hard enough as it is. It doesn’t hurt to have backup options though if it’s just a waitlist. And I wouldn’t pay for one unless I knew that money could go towards registration/tuition. I will add I didn’t start looking for my son until last minute. But most kept saying they wouldn’t have any room for a while and couldn’t even give me an estimate. So next Time I’m going to be like yeah get me on that list ASAP lol 
  • Different ones seem to have different policies. The one we’re leaning towards knows that they will have kids aging out of the infant room in specific months (although they transfer earlier if they’re developmentally ready for the youngest toddler room, ie walking, and keep their ratios at infant level, they reserve that spot if you’ve put a deposit). So we can pay $250 to guarantee a May spot or a June spot (they also have a July and I think some others, but I’m due in early February and have max 12 weeks paid). Others have had waitlists, or known openings in November 2023. You may find a similar variety of options.

    So far, we’ve talked to 6 and toured 3, and have a final tour next week before we decide, and they’ve all had slightly different strategies around waitlists and openings, so I’d keep looking, especially since we didn’t realize what we were (and weren’t) looking for until we’d toured a few and could start to really draw comparisons.
  • karbaudkarbaud member
    edited August 2022
    @fertile-turtle, thanks for the feedback. We do have four tours lined up outside of the daycare/waitlist that we already have a spot on. We can't get on the waitlists or know what the tuition costs are until we tour. None of the daycare centers here seem to have a policy to pay a deposit to guarantee a spot. I had a fifth tour lined up, but I recently found out that the daycare is on probation, so I'm going to cancel that tour.
  • @karbaud yikes on probation is a hard pass! Glad you found out now though and didn’t waste your time on a tour. Hopefully after your tours you’re able to find somewhere that works for you, both in quality and style of care and in waitlist length. This process is definitely even worse than I thought it would be, and I didn’t exactly have high expectations to begin with.
  • @fertile-turtle I know you said you don’t prefer a nanny, but in the summertime you may be able to hire a college student or a school teacher on leave for a few weeks if you need to buy some time. My friend had great results with care.com and thorough interviews and was able to delay daycare for almost a year that way. 
  • @Wishilivedinflorida I don’t think you meant me, I can actually get help hiring a nanny through work but since my husband works from home a lot, it doesn’t seem ideal for us. We do plan to use our retired parents on a rotating schedule if we need to stretch our time, though. Definitely not a long-term solution, but we can probably get through a month or two that way. It’s especially not long-term because we live 3 hours from both our families so they’d be staying with us for a week at a time if it becomes necessary, but it’s definitely a possibility.
  • I’m on a few different waitlists. I’m due in November and won’t need daycare until mid February. I’ve been on waitlists since May, but most places don’t have availability until June/July 2023 around me. We ultimately got lucky and found one place that will guarantee us a spot if we pay to hold the spot for 3 months ahead so we have to go with this daycare since it’s our only choice. It’s not a perfect daycare. It’s very small and ultimately not what I had envisioned, but when it comes down to it, it’s safe, the teachers are nice, it’s one of the more affordable options, and it’s 5 minutes away from my husbands work. Sometimes you just have to compromise to make it work.
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