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10 Questions to ask a Daycare Provider


Going back to work after having a baby is one of the hardest things a mom can do. Leaving your child with strangers can be nerve-wracking, especially if you’re not sure that you've asked all the right questions.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the most important topics you need to discuss with anyone who will be watching your baby.

1. Are you licensed?

a young girl playing with some toys

While licensure requirements vary by state, most states will make unannounced inspections of licensed facilities to ensure that the daycare is clean, that children are properly supervised, and that no complaints have been lodged. This also means that all employees have passed background checks.

2. Can I drop in without calling ahead?

three kids smiling at the camera

It might not seem like an important question, but any hesitation from a daycare provider regarding parental drop-ins can be a red flag. If they act like being surprised is a bad thing, you have to wonder, what are they hiding?

3. Are all employees current on their CPR and First Aid certification?

a first aid kit

In the event of an emergency you want to know that everyone on staff is up to date on their training. During a catastrophic event every second counts, especially if it’s your child who needs help.

4. What is your daily schedule?

a group of babies doing some painting

An organized daycare should be able to provide you with a copy of their calendar of activities. Look for a well-rounded schedule that includes things like daily free play, story time, art, music, snack time, outdoor time, and quiet time.

5. What is your menu like?

a mom handing out fruit to a group of kids

Proper nutrition is vital for growing little ones. Look for somebody who has a varied menu that includes fruits, vegetables, and proteins at every meal. Also check that the meals don’t repeat too often. Chicken, carrots, and apple slices is a great meal, but if it’s served 5 days a week your baby will be bored and you’re not really getting your money’s worth.

6. What is the age range of children at the facility?

a mom playing with a group of kids

An important factor in choosing where your baby will stay is what level the children around her will be. If your child is 2 years old and will be with 4 newborns, chances are she will not receive as much attention as the infants. If you have a newborn that will be with a group of 4-year-olds, you need to worry about germs and overzealous attention from well-meaning preschoolers.

Look for a daycare with other children at the same age and stage so that peers can develop together with evenly received attention.

7. What is your back-up plan if you are sick?

a young woman sneezing and looking sick

When working with kids it’s bound to happen--and you need to know what to expect if your daycare provider is sick. Many daycare facilities have substitute and on-call teachers to fill in, while others will close-- leaving you to miss work or scramble for childcare. It’s important to know up front what will happen if your provider is ill.

8. What is your child-to-teacher ratio?

a group of kids at a day care center

Depending on the age of your child the appropriate ration will vary. Most states regulate the maximum number of children at 4:1 for infants, and 5:1 for toddlers. Check with your state and make sure that the daycare abides by the limits.

9. Are you a year-round facility?

a young boy playing with some toys

Some daycare centers follow the school year and close during the summer months. If you still need care over the break make certain your provider will be available all year long.

10. What is your sick child policy?

a young boy lying on the floor of a play room

Illness is inevitable, but look for a daycare that limits exposure to sick kids. A good policy is that no children are allowed to be at daycare until 24 hours have passed since a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea has subsided. Productive coughs, rashes, and nasal discharge should also be on the no-fly list to keep your little one safe.

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