FOR ALL AGES

Questions To Ask Daycare: 25 Things To Know Before You Pick

When you're choosing a daycare center, don't forget to ask how many children attend.

Here at Kidadl, we know that life as a parent sometimes feels like one long list of questions!

Whether it's an appointment or visiting a new attraction, leaving home can leave you wondering about everything from bathroom breaks and parking, to places to pick up emergency snacks. So we're here to help fight the overwhelm.

Whether you're looking for guidance on how to prepare for the 3-year-old check-up or what to do if your 3-year-old's behavior is out of control, we're bringing you the information you need to stay in control.

And arguably one of the biggest sources of concern for parents is choosing a child care provider. Can I still breastfeed my baby? Will it fit around my family and my schedule? How much does it cost? What exactly should I be looking for? It's a big decision, so we've done some of the hard work for you. We've broken down the key questions to ask a daycare provider, so you can focus on what's most important, choosing the right childcare for your family.

List Of Questions To Ask Daycare Provider For Infant

1. What's the deal with diapers? You might want to double-check things like if the childcare setting changes diapers at intervals, for example, every three hours regardless of how full they are, or whether they change as needed. If you have any extra considerations for your baby, for example, if you use cloth diapers instead of disposable, double-check that the provider can facilitate that.

2. Do you support breastfeeding? If you're breastfeeding an infant in daycare, it can sometimes be a little tricky to navigate, but the right daycare center should work with you and support your family. Ask if they have facilities to handle fresh, or frozen, pumped breast milk. And are you able to stop by to breastfeed in person if necessary?

3. How does bottle-feeding work? For babies taking bottles, what is their setup with formula preparation, equipment, and sterilization? If you have an established feeding schedule, are they able to work to roughly the same times?

4. What kind of age-appropriate activities do you do with babies? If you have a baby, we know they're not going to be painting or practicing the alphabet, but it's still important for them to be stimulated, and start learning! What is the provider's approach to storytime and singing, tummy time, and infant-friendly toys? How much one-on-one time are they getting with their caregiver?

List Of Questions To Ask Daycare Provider For Toddler

Does your chosen daycare setting include a range of activities to enhance development?

5. What is your policy for potty training? Some daycare centers will automatically begin potty training once your child reaches a certain age, so make sure you're happy with the procedure. If you're already potty training and would like your provider to continue with your chosen approach, double-check they're able to facilitate that.

6. What activities do you do with toddlers? Do children enjoy a mix of outdoor and indoor play; is there a balance between learning activities, creative activities, and general free play?

7. Is the environment baby-proofed? When you have a kid toddling around, safety is key. You probably have child locks on cupboards and protectors on sharp corners at home, so make sure your child care provider does too.

General List Of Questions To Ask Daycare Providers

8. How many children attend the daycare center? It's good to get a feel for the size of the setting, as you might feel more comfortable with a particular size. And as well as the number of children overall, it's important to ask what the child to caregiver ratio is. There are legal restrictions on the maximum number of children that can be supervised per caregiver, but below that cap, it's down to the individual care provider.

9. What’s your philosophy when it comes to childcare? Just as approaches to parenting differ, so do the philosophies of daycare centers. For example, some settings might focus more on education and preparation for school, whilst others might promote outdoor sessions that connect kids with nature. Although any ethos will be formed with the best interests of the children in mind, it's important for you to find a daycare center that matches your own parenting philosophy, to help you feel most comfortable, and keep continuity for your child.

10. What is your approach to discipline? This applies both to disciplining your own child, and others. When it comes to your own child, ideally your daycare provider would enhance or mirror your own approach, and not work against it. And when it comes to other children, how do they tackle behavioral issues, such as biting, hitting, or bullying? What is their approach if your child is involved in an incident with another one of their peers?

11. What's the lowdown on food and mealtimes? There's a lot of variation in what daycare centers offer when it comes to food, so make sure to get all the info. Do parents need to provide food, or does the center provide it? If so, do they serve hot or cold food, or both? What are the meal times, and do they have cut-off points? For example, if you drop off at 9 a.m., will you have missed breakfast? Do they have a policy on healthy eating? How do they support picky eaters? And if your child has allergies, make sure you double-check the provider's policy. For example, you will find that some providers are entirely nut-free to protect vulnerable children.

12. What are your sickness policies? Some childcare providers say it's fine to send your child into daycare as normal if they have a mild runny nose or cough, others might prefer they stay home. Double-check protocols such as how long a child should be kept home after vomiting. And if your child becomes sick whilst they're at daycare, what's the center's procedure for calling a parent or guardian to collect them?

You will want to ask about your childcare provider's overall approach to childcare.

13. What are the costs, and is there a waitlist? Childcare costs can vary a lot, so make sure to double-check the prices, as well as the payment structure. And don't forget to ask if there any discounts available, for example, if you have multiple children in one setting, or for paying in advance. Also, make sure you double-check if there is immediate availability or if there's a waitlist, and if so, how long?

14. How do you keep parents up to date? Does the daycare offer daily or weekly reports and how? Is it in person or via an app or other platform? Do they include information on your child's behavior and the activities they've enjoyed? Do they include details on diaper changes or potty visits, mealtimes, and naps? When your child is out of your care, there's a lot to catch up on!

15. What security measures do you have in place? You should ask questions about the daycare center's policy for allowing people into the center; the procedure for checking children in and out; and the security in place to ensure children aren't able to 'escape' the center. We don't want any jailbreaks!

16. Are you licensed? It's so important to know that whoever is looking after your child is certified and professional. You'll want to ask who the daycare center is accredited by if they're monitored and inspected, and how often. You can also ask if they have references available.

17. What's your cleaning policy? Cleanliness is key when it comes to kids! How does the center clean or sanitize the toys and supplies used by the children, and how often? How often are things replaced altogether? And how often is the entire center deep-cleaned?

18. What are your staff training policies? You will probably want to know what kinds of certification, or even advanced degrees, the staff might have. What training do they have, and do they have access to ongoing professional training and development? And don't forget to ask if background checks are carried out on all employees, including the administrative and support staff.

19. Do children leave the daycare center? Trips can be really enriching, but they're an extra point of danger from a parent's perspective! Does the provider take kids out for a walk or to the park? If so, what's the caregiver-child ratio; is the route by a road; are high visibility vests supplied? If they're transporting children in a vehicle, where do they go and what are the seating arrangements?

20. What is your vaccination policy? It can be a contentious issue, but it's important to know. Are children required to be up-to-date with immunizations; does the provider allow exemptions, and for what reasons?

21. What's your policy for late pick-ups? Lots of daycare centers charge extra for late pick-ups so double-check how much, and whether it's a one-off fee, or whether the fee increases depending on how late you are! If you need help, ask if they allow a trusted nominee to pick up your child on your behalf if you know you're going to be late.

22. What's your refund policy? Ideally, you don't want to have to pay for childcare if your child isn't there! So if you're headed on vacation, or if your child is sick, ask if the provider gives refunds, in full or in part.

23. Do you have good employee retention? Understanding how long team members have been employed at the center, and whether or not there's a high staff turnover, can give you a feel for the culture and ethos of the child care setting.  

24. What are your first aid policies? You may want to know if there's a licensed medical professional on-site. And don't forget to double-check procedures around administering medicines; both regular medicines for existing conditions like asthma, and for topical medicines like antiseptic cream for cuts and grazes.

25. Do you have a privacy policy? Child care settings often take pictures of the children to help update parents on what they did that day. But what happens if your child is in another child's update picture; would you be happy to give permission for another parent to see images of your child? What about sharing pictures on the provider's website or social media?

If you found this article helpful, then why not take a look at how to support older kids in diapers or our favorite songs about family?

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Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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