In Good Health : Well Being : Women's health : Moms and Family Life
Finding the Best Daycare for Your Child
Daycare for your children may be a fact of life if both you and your partner work.
It's important to find day care that fits your child's and your family's needs. You can either hire a sitter to come to your home. Or you can enroll your child in a day-care center. These centers can be in a commercial space or in another person's home.
Things to think about
Before you make a decision on a daycare center (or another daycare situation), here are a few things to consider:
Be sure the center has a state license. Ask about accreditation.
Research to see if the center has had any violations within the last 5 years.
Make sure the staff is certified in CPR.
Look for good staff-to-child ratios and check that the caregivers are certified. A good ratio might be 1 adult per 3 children under 1 year old. Or it might be 1 adult per 7 children 3 years old, or 1 adult per 8 children 4 and 5 years old.
Be sure discipline doesn't involve isolation, humiliation, or intimidation. Make sure the center's discipline policies agree with yours.
Be certain the center has a specific diaper-changing area, with a sink, separated from the rest of the facility. Watch to see that staff members wash their hands at the right times like after diaper changes and before snacks or meals.
Be sure the center was planned with children's safety in mind. Outdoor play areas should be protected with materials that can take impact.
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 cases like when your child is sick or when you're stuck at work late.
Ask if they have current parent references you can contact.
Sleep safety guidelines
If you have an infant, make sure the center follows guidelines to reduce the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and sleep-related deaths.
These guidelines include:
Placing your baby on his or her back during nap time or while sleeping
Using a firm sleep surface
Keeping soft objects and loose bedding out of the crib
Making sure vaccines are up to date
Offering the child a pacifier at nap time
Not letting the child get overheated
Keeping your child away from tobacco smoke, alcohol, and illegal drugs