Finding the Best Day Care for Your Child

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Day care for your children may be a fact of life if both parents work. But not all day care options are good for your child. If you're just starting to look, first, decide which type of child care best suits your situation.

Hiring a baby sitter in your home or taking your child to the home of someone who watches a few children may be convenient or more economical, but your best bet may be a group or center setting. Here are some things to consider:

 

  • Be sure the center has a state license, and ask about accreditation. Ensure they are CPR certified.
  • Look for a ratio of one adult per three children under 1 year old, one adult per seven children 3 years old, and one adult per eight children 4 and 5 years old. Ask if caregivers are certified.
  • Be sure discipline doesn't involve isolation, humiliation or intimidation—make sure the center's policies agree with yours.
  • Be certain the center has a designated diaper-changing area, with a sink, separated from the rest of the facility. Watch to see that staff members wash their hands at appropriate times, such as after diaper changes and before snacks or meals.
  • Be sure the center was designed with children's safety in mind. Outdoor play areas should be protected with impact-absorbing material.
  • Make sure the center's food and drink meet your child's dietary needs. Snacks and naps should be on a schedule. If your child has any food allergies, make sure the staff members know how to keep your child's snacks separate and free from contamination with foods that could make your child sick.
  • Ask about policies for special situations, such as when your child is sick or when you're stuck at work late.
  • Ask if they have current parent references you can contact.
  • Ensure the center follows guidelines to reduce the risk of SIDS and sleep related deaths as detailed below.