Wow-choosing child care for your most precious baby. It is new. And it can be very overwhelming. You will read the blogs, check the safety standards, and read reviews. A girlfriend who recently had her first baby was anxiously asking for my advice as she prepared to go back to work which allowed me to reflect a bit.
Look Beyond the Infant Room
With your first child, you are utterly consumed with everything newborn. It is almost impossible to think of your sweet baby in anything other than the mountains of 0-3 onesies that you have received as welcome baby gifts. But the sweet baby does grow and quickly. You want to understand and feel comfortable with every stage of your child’s care and learning environment-not just in the initial infant room but throughout his or her development.
Don’t be shy to ask to see a variety of classrooms and to speak to the child care center teacher in each age group. It will give you a better picture of the culture of the center as a whole and allow you to identify if it is the right fit for you and your child long term.
Talk to Other Parents:
Like you, all parents are concerned about their children’s safety and want to ensure they are getting the best care possible. When touring child care facilities, don’t miss the opportunity to speak with other parents. Most are happy to explain why they chose the facility they did and describe the highlights and challenges they have faced. This gives you an unbiased and behind the scenes look that will hopefully shed some needed light on your decision. If you aren’t able to talk to other parents while touring, ask a staff member if they can provide you with the contact information of a parent or two whose children have been attending the center for a while and who would be willing to share honestly about their experiences.
Understand Communication Protocols
Even when you are not physically with your child, you want to be kept in the loop and fully informed on how your child is doing. The manner in which child care centers communicate will determine how connected you feel with your child throughout the day. Ask not only the director about communication procedures but also make it a topic when speaking with identified parents (see above). The following questions are a great way to get the conversation started:
- How often will I receive updates about my child and how will I receive them?
- How are issues and emergencies handled?
- What if my child needs a different type of care than standard?
- What will my interactions with my child’s teacher look like?
- What are the drop off/pick up processes?
And lastly, ensure to inquire if they have real-time communication updates, like the child care software, MomentPath. It is definitely a challenging transition when initially heading back into the workforce. Having the opportunity to see daily photos and videos of your child through a daycare app will greatly ease the transition. In my experience, these small differentiators demonstrate how your provider will handle your customer experience across the spectrum of care. As with most phases of life, strong communication makes all the difference from a good to amazing experience.