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Choosing Great Daycare

With any decision you make on behalf of your children, choosing a daycare ranks as one of the most important. You'll be leaving your child with strangers for hours at a time several days of the week. We're here to offer tips on selecting the right environment for your child to grow, learn and to be safe.

Consider the Options

There are different types of child care options available to you. You can choose someone to come into your home to care for your child, choose a child care center or a family day care. Whichever type you opt for, here are some basic tips to help you with your search.

What's the Policy?

After getting referrals from coworkers, friends and relatives, check out the company or caregiver's policies. Do they have goals that align with yours? How do they view discipline? Do they scold the child for misbehavior or use time-outs? How do they deal with common issues that parents face several times a day? How do they diffuse situations with fussy children or fights? Consider the policy on sick children as well. You will want to consider what snacks are provided and how they handle when staff call in sick.

Staff Reliability

This is especially important when choosing a caregiver that comes into your home. Do they tend to have long employment stretches? Creating and sustaining a bond between your child and caregiver is important. If choosing a daycare, ask what the turnover rate of staff is.

Take A Look For Yourself

You may trust your referral source, but taking a look-see yourself will leave no doubt about the choice you are making. Examine the environment. Is the area clean and sanitized regularly? How is food stored? What is the ratio of staff to child and how do staff interact with the children? Staff should be on the child's level or holding them in their lap. Is the environment safe? Are there choking hazards in reach? Are age appropriate skills being taught? Are different ages kept in separate areas?

Trust your instincts. Nagging feelings should be examined further to make an informed decision. Visit the site or have a "playdate" with a potential in-home caregiver more than once.

Communicate Effectively

You will need a complete rundown of your child's day. You need to be able to rely on them to give you an accurate account, right down to what they ate for snacks or meals. You will want to be aware of potential issues that may come up later. If possible, speak with the caregiver in person instead of relying on texts or emails.

Address Issues Immediately

No one expects that everything will run smoothly all of the time. You will experience conflicts with your caregivers from time to time. Ignoring the issue won't resolve it and may pave the way for bigger, more serious issues in the future. Some situations could be misunderstandings and discussing them up front will solve any lingering negative feelings. Knowing you are able to work together to problem-solve will strengthen the bond you have. Don't be hesitant to speak up, but also be prepared to listen to their side.

It's Not Set in Stone

Realize that you are not stuck with a particular daycare or caregiver. Consistency is vital, but if the situation isn't right and issues cannot be resolved effectively, it's time to move on. Making sure your baby has a positive environment right for them, trumps awkward feelings of moving on from your current arrangements.

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