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Daycare Drama: 8 Tips to Choose A Daycare

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Maternity leave was awesome.

I love my job and I love what I do but I’ve never been one to turn down a day off! Maternity leave was awesome. Minus the crying baby, constant nursing, leaky boobs, no sleep, and frequent blow outs. I loved it. I did not want to go back to work. Period. So how could I even choose a daycare at all?

Since I didn’t hit the lottery like I planned, I had to. As the day got closer I was filled with dread and anxiety. I had never been away from her for more than an hour at a time. Even then it was always with my mother.

How was I going to leave my baby with complete strangers?

It took me months to learn that little baby. To know which cry was hunger vs discomfort vs boredom. And now I’m expected to leave her with strangers and 9 other crying babies. All I really wanted was to stay home and take care of my own baby.

Like many of us, I was not in a position to quit my job or even cut back hours. I knew no one would take care of her like me, but someone needed to come close.

So how do we make that transition back to work for ourselves and our babies?

Here are the things that helped this paranoid momma:

  1. Decide what’s important to you

    Unfortunately/Fortunately due to my work schedule I only had one option for childcare. The hospital daycare.

    With that being said,the facility happened to have what’s important to me.

    What’s important to you?

    Do you want a place with cameras?
    Is it important that they only use organic ingredients?
    Does the entrance need to be secured?
    What teacher:infant ratio are you comfortable with?
    Do you prefer a place close to home or closer to work?
    Is the facility state certified?
    What is the turnover of staff?
    What’s the turnover of children?
    Is the staff certified?
    Do they conduct background checks on staff?
    Do all providers have CPR certifications?

    If you don’t know how to start your daycare research, start with your state licensing website. They will provide information such as the date of last inspection and if there are any violations.

    Use these items to help you narrow down your childcare provider.

  2. Talk to other parents

    Check the facility’s website or Yelp. You can find reviews from other parents. You may also come across other parents when you’re touring different facilities.

    Don’t forget to talk to your coworkers, neighbors, or church members. You would be surprised at who knows who and who knows what.

  3. Choose a place

    A great daycare is a hot commodity. When you’ve found one that suits you and your family’s needs, get on their wait list ASAP. Spots fill up quickly. When it’s time to return to work, you don’t want to be stressing out over childcare. Have a backup facility and be on their wait list too. This way you’re covered if your desired location doesn’t have an opening when you need them to.

    I would also recommend dropping by the daycare sporadically before your start date. This way you’ll be able to see what goes on when they aren’t expecting visitors. Keep in mind some day cares may not allow this is at might be a privacy violation for the other babies.

  4. Find out their expectations of your baby

    When your baby starts daycare, how will they do things there? Will they feed your baby on demand or on a feeding schedule? Are all naps done in a crib? Is baby expected to sleep on their back. Are pacifiers allowed in the play area as well as the sleep area? Can they use the Wubby pacifiers or are they considered suffocation risks. Will there be bouncers and swings or will the baby be on the floor. How much tummy is expected?

    Take these things into consideration and follow these practices at home. You want to make the transition as smooth for your baby as possible. Keep in mind that baby will also be able to differentiate what happens at home from what happens at daycare.

  5. Be prepared for daycare

    Most day cares will want bottles labeled everyday. They are even more meticulous when it comes to breast milk. I find these re-writable labels to be best for labeling bottles

    Pacifiers will need to be labeled too. This was a real pain for me. My daughter will only take the Soothie pacifiers. Her daycare doesn’t allow anything to be attached to the pacifier. So I had great difficulty finding a way to label the Soothie. This is what we ended up using.

    Will you be responsible for linen or will daycare supply this? If you have to bring it, it may be a good idea to have it monogrammed.

    Make sure to have a surplus of labels. You’ll need to label clothes and shoes as well. This way you can ensure you always get your stuff back.

  6. Start baby in daycare before starting work

    Give you and your baby at least 3 days to a week to transition. Wake up the same time you would if you were going to work. Go through the entire routine. Get yourself dressed. Feed baby and get baby dressed.

    How long does it take you to get out the door?
    On your way to daycare, what’s traffic like?
    Do you need to allow yourself more travel time?

    Since you don’t have to be at work you can pop in anytime you want. You can observe how baby is adjusting. You are also able to come back if baby is having any issues. If your baby is breastfed, now you’ll be able to see if you need to make adjustments to baby’s bottles.

  7. Visit the daycare

    Once baby starts daycare, visit a lot! Keep them on their toes and let them know what you expect. I drop by the daycare unannounced all the time. Sometimes I’ll pop up in the morning and then come back again an hour later. They never know when to expect me.

    As baby gets older, I wouldn’t advise this. It will upset baby more to see you leave.

  8. Have Paid Time Off (PTO) available

    When baby starts daycare sooner or later they will get sick. And while we are talking about it, your baby will get you sick too.

    Having PTO will allow you to not be stressed when daycare calls for you to pick up the baby. Most day cares require baby to be fever free for 24 hours before they can come back.

    Emergencies do happen, especially when you have kids. Additional PTO can only help.

I hope this list helps ease you and baby’s transition to daycare. Take tissues that first day and remember, you got this momma!

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6 thoughts on “Daycare Drama: 8 Tips to Choose A Daycare”

  1. Thank you for your advice on how to choose a good daycare! I especially liked that you mentioned that talking to other parents can help you know what facilities to visit and tour. If I had kids, I would want to make sure I would be putting them into a good daycare system.

    1. Dennis, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Other parents will always be your best resource. They have been where you’ve been and they are already where you’re headed!

  2. Thank you for explaining that you have started popping in unannounced to daycares. My sister has been thinking about putting her kids in daycare so she can start a new job, but she is apprehensive about being able to do that. I will be sure to send this to her so f she decides to do that then she will be able to feel better about that.

    1. Sandra, I think popping in is a must especially in facilities that don’t have cameras. My daughter is 2 now and I still pop in. I just have to go about it differently because I don’t want her to see me. It’s hard trusting a stranger to care for your baby the way that you do.

  3. Thank you for explaining how you should have your child start daycare before you return to work so you are able to create a routine and you can have time to observe how your child does in daycare. I will be returning to work soon and I am going to be having my child start daycare but I don’t know when to start them. I will look into having them start a few days before I go back to work.

    1. I think you’ll be happy with that Jane. It will allow you both to ease into the transition before you’re forced into it permanently. It set my mind at ease popping in on those days and seeing that my baby was well taken care of. It’s also good to get some time to yourself before you’re back in the hustle and bustle of juggling mom life and work.

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