While you're pregnant, it's wise to start visiting infant daycare centers to arrange for childcare upon your return to work from maternity leave. While there are many options to weigh when it comes to infant daycare centers, one of the most important factors in making your decision is an interview with daycare providers. You'll need to arrive at this interview armed with questions that will help you decide if the particular infant daycare center is right for you.
When choosing infant daycare centers to interview keep several factors in mind, including proximity to your home and job, hours of operation, cost of tuition, programming, and future education options for when your child reaches preschool age. Based on these factors, narrow your infant daycare choices, and schedule personal interviews and tours of each facility.
On your interview, be sure to ask the following five questions to infant daycare providers:
What is the infant to childcare provider ratio?
You don't want your infant to be one of many children assigned to one childcare provider. An infant needs constant attention, so that ratio should be as low as possible. A favorable ratio would be one childcare provider to three infants or fewer.
What's the daily routine?
Make sure your newborn's development includes stimulation and learning opportunities, which may include music class, storytelling, one-on-one interactive play time or the use of baby sign language to communicate with children before they can speak.
What milestones are infants expected to reach in the daycare setting, and how does the infant daycare center track them?
From making the transition from a bottle to a sippy cup to crawling for the first time, infants are continually devloping and reaching milestones in the first year of their lives. Ask what programming is in place at an infant daycare center to track and encourage babies reaching these milestones.
What options are in place to have your child "grow" with the daycare center?
Children in daycare have the extra advantage of being in an early social situation with their peers. In addition, the opportunities for learning in this setting come at an earlier age. Many parents want their child to stay in the same environment until kindergarten. For this reason, you need to ask about future educational opportunities, such as if the daycare center follows nursery school and pre-k curriculums.
How does the infant daycare provider manage children with allergies, especially food allergies?
If your infant is prone to having a food allergy -- usually these are children of parents with allergies -- you want to know if the infant daycare provider will be looking for early signs, such as a hive break-out. If your baby develops hives, it's imperative the infant daycare provider recount all the food the child ate that day. It's also helpful if there's a nurse on staff who can treat a child right away if an allergic reaction occurs. Due to the high rate of food allergies in children, many infant daycare centers are peanut free.