Parents: Choosing a Childcare Center
painted the nursery, stocked up on diapers, read all the parenting
books, and washed and folded the baby clothes. You're ready for
the birth of your baby. Or are you?
you're planning to return to work after the birth of your baby,
now is the time to start looking for quality child care. While some
parents hire a caregiver in the home, and others seek the support
of family members to help care for their baby, many parents enroll
their infants in a childcare center.
a quality center requires careful planning and research. Take time
to explore your options so you can make the best decision for your
baby and family.
recommend that quality childcare centers for young children include:
licensed and accredited program with staff well trained in child
caregivers, especially for infants and toddlers who need predictable,
trusted caregivers to help build their sense of security and self-esteem.
groups of children with high staff-to-child ratios to ensure individualized
caregivers who value each child's unique temperament, schedule,
mood and preferences.
positive discipline policy that is encouraging, logical and age-appropriate,
without threats of harm, humiliation or intimidation.
sensitive caregivers who support and respect each family's culture,
language and values.
and safety policies and procedures that include: emergency and injury
procedures, adequate child supervision, and sanitary practices for
feeding and diapering.
variety of interesting toys, books and materials appropriate for
your child's age in a safe environment that encourages exploration
respectful relationships with parents who are welcome to share feedback,
observe their child at any time, and meet with his or her caregivers.
various centers and observe the caregivers interacting with children.
Do the staff and children seem happy? Is the atmosphere joyful?
Meet with the director. Learn about their approach to caring for
young children. Talk with parents and staff. Check references and
credentials. Ask questions. Listen to your instincts.
you've selected a childcare center, allow yourself and your baby
time to get to know the caregivers and the new setting. Some parents
plan to return to work at the end of the week so their baby can
spend a day or two in the new center and then have the weekend at
home to slowly adjust to the changes.
spending time at the center to observe your child's caregivers and
ensure that the environment you chose is nurturing and feels right
for you and your baby.
Glasser, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and founder of
NewsForParents.org. She is the author of "Positive Parenting,"
a weekly feature of the Miami Herald.