How to Choose an Infant Day Care

There are many benefits to putting an infant in day care when both parents return to work. They learn socialization skills early, and there is plenty of time to play and learn throughout the day. Day care providers can also help to get a baby into a feeding and sleeping routine from a young age. It can be a difficult decision, however, because parents want their children to be happy and well-cared for, and it can be difficult to hand that responsibility off to someone else. Choose an infant day care after researching all of the options available to you and your family.


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    Make a list of your childcare priorities. Your first decision will need to be whether you want to send your baby to a day care center or an in-home caregiver. Day care centers are accredited by states and employ many teachers for each age group. They are often more expensive than in-home day care providers, who take care of babies and children in their own homes. Determine which kind of setting you would prefer for your infant. Add other important priorities to your list, such as distance from work and home, cost, and number of children being supervised by each caregiver.
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    Research the available care. Use all the resources available to find out what kind of infant day care is offered in your area.
    • Talk to other parents and see if they have any recommendations. Pediatricians can often give referrals as well.
    • Perform an Internet search, and check for advertisements in local newspapers and directories.
    • Call The Childcare Aware Hotline (800/424-2246) for a list of agencies that can refer you in your area.
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    Visit and inspect potential centers.
    • Pay attention to the security of the day care. The doors should be locked so that small children cannot wander out and strangers cannot come in.
    • Examine the space that children inhabit. When you are in the infant area, note the cleanliness and safety of the cribs and other furniture.
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    Interview staff and childcare providers. Ask as many questions as you can.
    • Find out about feeding, napping and changing schedules, and whether the infants get any outdoor time.
    • Ask about playtime and learning activities, and policies regarding sick children and discipline.
    • Inquire about the experience of staff and management, and ask if turnover is high.
    • Question the director on whether the caregivers are certified in first aid and CPR, and if ongoing training is provided for staff.
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    Ask for references. Day care centers and in-home day care providers should provide you with a list of references.
    • Talk to other parents about their experience with the day care provider, and find out how they know their children are happy and well-cared for while they are there.
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    Find out about communication policies. Ask your potential day care providers how they will communicate with you about your infant's day. When caring for infants, day care centers should provide a written schedule. You should also receive notes at the end of every day with details about how much the baby ate, slept, and how often he or she was changed.
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    Bring your infant to meet the caregivers. When you are close to choosing an infant day care, bring your baby with you to see the day care and meet the staff. Notice how they interact with your baby, and make sure your infant seems at ease with the providers. Some babies will fuss and cry and display normal separation anxiety, and others will go naturally to strangers. You know your infant and his or her behaviors the best, so be sure to notice if they are any different than when other friends and family members hold and play with your child.


  • Begin your search early, before the baby is even born. Most states limit the number of infants any day care center can care for. Therefore, many day care centers have waiting lists.
  • Returning to work after having a baby can be a complicated transition for working parents. Feeling completely comfortable with the day care you have chosen for your infant will make going back to work a little bit easier.


  • Be prepared with a back-up plan for when your infant is sick. Most day care providers will not care for a child who has a fever, or is vomiting or having diarrhea.

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Categories: Preschool and Kindergarten