Questions to Ask your Daycare

Choosing a daycare can be a daunting task. There are so many options in various price points. You speak with the owners, learn about the centers, and by the time you choose the right one, you are put on a waitlist. In my area daycare spots go quickly, which means we were speaking to daycares when Emiliana was only 6 weeks old. At that time in my life, I was sleep deprived, still learning how to be a parent, and had no idea what type of questions to ask. Now that daycare is soon approaching, I came up with a list of questions to ask when interviewing facilities

1. What does a typical day look like?

This is a great question to start with. You want to know what they will be doing with your child all day. Other than naps and feeding, how will her free time be spent. For instance, some extras our daycare has are art and music time.

2. Will she follow her schedule or, does every child follow the same schedule?

Emiliana will be starting daycare at just about 9 months old. We have always been flexible with her schedule and read her cues. I understand this is not as easy for daycare employees who will be taking care of multiple children. That being said, I want to know if there is a specific schedule that all the children follow or if she will follow our schedule (or lack of schedule). For reference our daycare follows the child’s schedule from home up until 12 months of age, then they will all follow the same schedule.

3. What are the napping arrangements?

Where will my child be sleeping for naps? Are there enough cribs for all the children? Do I need to provide a pak and play? Do I need to provide a fitted sheet? Can I provide a sleep sak for him/her. Our daycare has a crib for each individual child. They charge us $10 for a fitted sheet that they will launder and I am allowed to provide them with a sleep sak.

4. How do you handle difficult nappers?

This one is very specific for my situation. My daughter has always needed increased time to fall asleep with a lot of rocking and swaying. Will the daycare employee help her fall asleep? What if she is giving them a difficult time and wont nap? What if she wakes up early from her nap? I am very worried about her being able to get enough sleep at daycare. If you have a difficult napper its good to ask what type of strategies the caregivers employ to help facilitate a nap

5. What is the ratio of staff to children?

I know that where I live the law is 1 staff member to every four children. The daycare we are going with actually runs slightly below at a 1 staff to three children ratio. Find out the laws in your state and see how the daycares near you comply.

6. What are your hours and what is your late policy?

Different daycares have different hours of operation. Depending on what time you start and finish work, you want to make sure your daycare can accommodate your schedule. In addition, find out the late policy. Our daycare charges us in 15-minute increments if we are late.

7. What calendar do you follow?

A lot of daycares follow the school schedule of the town they are in. This is good to keep in mind, because they may have days where they are closed and you are not off of work. They may also have a winter break and a spring break.

8. How often are they taken outside?

Weather permitting, it is so important for children to spend time outside. It is worth asking to make sure that they take the children on walks or out to the playground so that they can enjoy the fresh air and outdoor sensory experience.

9. Do you use containers, such as bouncers or jumpers? If so, how long does a child spend in each device?

One of my biggest fears with daycare is that Emiliana would spend too much time in containers. The daycare we found rarely uses any type of container and spends a lot of time with the children on the floor. For me this was very important. If this is important to you, make sure to ask!

10. Are you familiar with baby led weaning, what is your staffs comfort level? Tell me the process for meal and snack times

This is very prevalent in my life right now, as this weekend we started with solids. Many of us are now following the baby led weaning approach. As this is different then the old way of purely purees, you want to make sure that your daycare is familiar with this approach as well as comfortable with encouraging self-feeding of infants. If they aren’t comfortable, see if you can show them the method with your baby.

11. What is your sick policy?

Some daycares have different policies based off of what your child is sick with. It’s good to ask ahead of time, so that you know how they handle illness.

12. What is your COVID policy?

This is a big one now. This past winter, I heard from many friends who were dealing with daycare closures every other week. This is the world we live in now, and you want to know if you will be informed if there is an exposure, if they close due to exposures, or if your child is exposed should they be kept home.

13. What is your cleaning process, are toys regularly cleaned and sanitized?

I personally would want to make sure toys are cleaned and sanitized regularly, any toy Emiliana finds always ends up in her mouth

14. How are parents updated throughout the day? Are there cameras?

A lot of daycares now have Apps where they can send pictures and updates through. Do they have cameras that parents can watch, and is it extra money to have access?

15. What Supplies do I provide?

What Supplies do you have to provide, i.e diapers, wipes, sleep saks, food, bottles, etc. etc.

Finding the right daycare is important. You are entrusting these people to care for the most precious being in your life. Ask all the questions you need to ask in order to feel comfortable.