How to Choose a Great Daycare for your Toddler

choosing a daycare for your toddler - things to consider
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Sending your baby off to daycare can be emotional and nerve-wracking. It’s hard to trust strangers to care for your little one, but at the same time you need to work, get things done and get some alone-time or time with other adults so you don’t go insane.

So, how do you choose a good daycare which will care for your children well? What are the most important things to consider?

Facilities

First thing you should do is get a first impression by visiting the center. Staff are usually happy to let you know if they have current vacancies and give you a tour and enrollment paperwork. You should look at the cleanliness, the number of children, staff ratios and if the staff seem happy. Unhappy, irritable staff will indicate a low quality of care being delivered. You can use this opportunity to ask questions about activities and how the center is structured. Usually children are divided into rooms by age but they may also have time together with the older children. Check out the toys and playground equipment, if there is a separate yard for the younger babies.

Staff and Class/Room Sizes

Seeing happy, friendly staff is really important. If they are coming off as cranky and irritable to you, you can expect that they’re being the same with the kids. Check that the staff to child ratios aren’t too large. For toddlers (age 1 to 2 years) 1 staff member to 4 children seems to be standard. The overall number of enrollments they take for the age group is still important if the children are together in the same room. Up to 8 toddlers in the room, with 2 staff seems to be normal for most centers near us.

Policies

Check the center’s policies on things which are important to you. For example, if they will allow you to opt out of having your child’s photos used for commercial or promotional purposes, things they charge extra for (like supplying hats if one is not packed or late pickups). You may also want to check if meals and nappies are provided or if they need to be packed.

Activities and Education

Probably one of the most important considerations, look at what your child will be learning at the center. Of particular importance here for us was their stance on tech.

Some centers brag of having tablets, ipads and interactive televisions and “teaching” the kids how to use them. This is a fancy way of saying your children will be watching TV or playing games for much of the day. Technology today is so intuitive children don’t need to have specific education in using it. This was perhaps necessary in the early days of computers when primitive desktops were the norm, but not anymore. Give a young child a tablet for even a few hours they’ll have it mostly figured out. Early exposure to tech is damaging, and has no place in daycare or preschools.

We were lucky enough to be close to a Montessori daycare and preschool which has no plastic or electronic push-button toys, no TVs and the only screen to be seen in the whole facility is the i-pad used only by parents for signing in their children. Children spend their day socializing, playing and learning, not sitting in front of screens. Additionally, Montessori teaches practical life skills. Our son started putting toys away by himself and will also wipe his own high-chair tray if handed a cloth.

Communication

How will you be informed about your child’s day? Some centers use a scrapbook, some use an app, others might only talk to you. I’ve also seen some centers send daily texts with updates and photos, or using email. Other things to consider here are parent meetings, or where to find records of your child’s nap times and duration, changes etc (this may be written up on a whiteboard).

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There are other obvious considerations you’ll need to make about daycare, including cost, location, hours and days offered (if you need to work weekends or public holidays, check if the center will be open). These should be much simpler however because they’re considerations of time and money. I hope the above will help in choosing a daycare for your toddler which is most beneficial to them. Remember, most daycares fill up quickly at the beginning of the year. Get in early to secure a place at your selected center.

What are the most important things for you when choosing a daycare for your toddler? Let me know in a comment. Don’t forget to share this article.

33 Comments

  1. Jocelyn McDonald
    May 25, 2019

    My husband and I recently had our first daughter, and your article had great tips for choosing a childcare service we can take her to when I start working again. I liked how you said to check if a potential service provides meals and nappies, or if we should pack them. Thanks; we’ll keep this in mind when choosing childcare.

    Reply
  2. lee
    August 1, 2019

    This is definitely one of the best articles I have read so far

    Reply
  3. joan
    November 14, 2019

    thanks for this article it influenced my decision.

    Reply
  4. dora
    November 15, 2019

    yep, tech is definiitely not something we want to introduce our kids to early. thank you for this information.

    Reply
  5. karen
    November 16, 2019

    good tips and food for thought, thanks for writing this. Will keep it in mind when I select my center.

    Reply
  6. lisa
    November 18, 2019

    yep all great advice when it comes to daycare thanks for the brilliant article

    Reply
  7. jane
    November 19, 2019

    thanks for the thought and effort you put in this article now i can choose a great daycare for my bub.

    Reply
  8. talia
    November 19, 2019

    thank you for the article you linked and this great advice.

    Reply
  9. mariah
    November 22, 2019

    great tips on choosing a daycare thank you.

    Reply
  10. daisy
    November 23, 2019

    ill be sending my baby off to daycare soon and this really helped me thank you for writing it.

    Reply
  11. rain
    November 26, 2019

    thanks for the tips this helped me decide on a center finally.

    Reply
  12. brienna
    November 26, 2019

    thanks for the great tips i love youre articles theyre always so thoughtful and have some original ideas, not just same old same.

    Reply
  13. frieda
    November 28, 2019

    thanks for this great article

    Reply
  14. roan
    November 29, 2019

    thank you for these great tips on daycare selection.

    Reply
  15. zena
    December 1, 2019

    thank you for these tips especially about getting in early we might have missed out on a place if i didnt read this!!

    Reply
  16. lora
    December 2, 2019

    good points and definitely all things to consider.

    Reply
  17. jean
    December 3, 2019

    great tips keep up the great articles ros!

    Reply
  18. philipa
    December 4, 2019

    thanks for the tips love your blog

    Reply
  19. courtney
    December 4, 2019

    thanks for the tips it really helps to know these things.

    Reply
  20. henrietta
    December 7, 2019

    thank you thank you this was a great help!!!

    Reply
  21. kiara
    December 10, 2019

    great article thank you

    Reply
  22. karmen
    December 14, 2019

    these are great tips and your writing is amazing

    Reply
  23. georgia
    December 24, 2019

    thank you for this article its brilliant,

    Reply
  24. quinn
    December 25, 2019

    awesome thanks for these tips

    Reply
  25. wendy
    December 26, 2019

    wonderful article you write really well and offer some new insights

    Reply
  26. Manny
    December 31, 2019

    great article ty

    Reply
  27. Ernest
    July 5, 2020

    Thanks for this article!

    Reply
  28. Kara
    July 13, 2020

    Thank you for this great article and excellent blog by the way! We selected our daycare based on your advice.

    Reply
  29. Jolene
    July 16, 2020

    Thanks for writing this 🙂

    Reply
  30. Henrietta
    July 20, 2020

    Thank you for writing all these wonderful articles, Ros.

    Reply
  31. Leyla
    July 21, 2020

    This article helped me so much in selecting a daycare center, thank you.

    Reply
  32. Ali
    July 22, 2020

    Great article, we will be sending our LO off to daycare soon, so very relevant. thank you very much

    Reply
  33. Kate
    July 22, 2020

    Thanks for helping me choose a great daycare

    Reply

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