Mama things

Choosing a Daycare

I asked you what questions to ask and what to look for when vetting a daycare. You answered!

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Thinking of sending your babe to daycare can seem daunting. It sure does to me.

I never TRULY thought about what a daycare really is until I had to. A few months ago, it dawned on me that my mat leave was ending soon, and I would need a plan ASAP. That’s when I sat down to think about sending David to daycare and suddenly my brain was like what the actual *@#k. I’m expected to entrust my baby, my flesh and blood, to some rando?! Someone who has a bunch of other little stinkers to watch and won’t give their full attention to him? How do moms do this? How am I supposed to do this? So many questions and concerns flooded my mind and I was very close to screwing everything and deciding to become a SAHM.

After the initial shock, I came to the conclusion that this is a milestone like any other, and that although it may be challenging, we would get through it. I love my job, I love to work, I am amazing at my job, and I worked damn hard to get to where I am. I have a lot I want to accomplish and being a mom should’t prevent me from doing that. With the right support, we can do anything! (Also, money doesn’t grow on trees).

There are amazing and trust worthy daycares, we all just need to find the right one for us. And that’s why I turned to all of you who have already been through this and have valuable tips to share. I also added some of my own.

WHERE TO START

  • Ask people you KNOW what their experiences were and which daycares they recommend.
  • Apply on La Place 0-5. Best to do this as soon as you find out you’re pregnant so you can secure spots on waiting lists for daycares that are highly coveted.
  • When you visit try not to judge and make a decision based on your first impression. Daycares have good and bad days too, some days might be louder, crazier, and smellier than others. Try not to write off a daycare based on a first visit. (Unless you have a very bad feeling, trust your gut!!!)
  • If you’re worried about the adjustment period, find out if the daycare will allow you to stay with your baby for a little while the first few times. Most daycares have half-days for the first week, but many won’t allow parents to stay.
  • Don’t stress! Babies adjust and are extremely resilient. They will thrive in their new social environment 🙂

Here are some questions to ask and things to look for when vetting and visiting a daycare. You probably won’t ask all of these, but prioritize the ones that are important to you.

STAFF

  • ASK – How many children per teacher? The fewer children per teacher the better, because that indicates that your baby will have more attention.
  • ASK – What childhood education degrees do the teachers hold? It is important to know if the teachers have the pedagogy and knowledge necessary to be caring for children.
  • ASK – What is the educator turnover rate? Some daycares have high turnover rates for reasons such as low salary, or non-ideal working conditions. In such cases, your child may have 4-5 educators in the space of one year. You want stability for your child, and knowing that teachers generally stay employed at the daycare for many years is a good sign of that.
  • ASK – How are the children disciplined and under what circumstances?
  • ASK – What is the policy for cell phone use while teachers are around the children?
  • ASK – Do parents have a means of communicating with teachers about how their children are doing during the day?
  • OBSERVE – How the teachers talk to the children, if they are warm, if they are smiling and playful.

MEALS

  • ASK – Who cooks the food? In some daycares the janitor does the cooking, which may be an issue for some parents.
  • ASK – How and where is the food prepared?
  • ASK – Can I see your weekly menu? Is it the same menu every week?
  • OBSERVE – Is the kitchen clean and neat?
  • OBSERVE – If you can, visit around a meal time so you can see how lunch is served.

ATMOSPHERE

  • OBSERVE – Do the teachers have a positive “vibe”? Do they seem warm and friendly?
  • OBSERVE – Are the children being properly watched and paid attention to?
  • OBSERVE – The attitude of the person giving you the tour of the daycare. Do they appear to be caring and sensitive to the individual needs of different families/children?
  • OBSERVE – The classroom set-up and atmosphere. You want to see bright and open spaces.
  • OBSERVE – Are the children happy, playing, interactive positively with teachers?

SAFETY + SECURITY

  • Ask to see the CPR and First Aid certifications of all the teachers. Make sure they are not expired.
  • Look up the daycare on www.mfa.gouv.qc.ca to see if they have any violations and if/how they were rectified. (Link is for Quebec daycares).
  • Ask about their security system and surveillance cameras (if any). Who can get into the daycare and how? Are the exits safe to prevent children from leaving?
  • ASK – What is the emergency exit plan?
  • ASK – What is their protocol in the event of an emergency (fire, shooter, flood…)
  • ASK – What is the policy when a child is sick? It can be annoying to have to keep your child home every time they’re sick (and it will happen OFTEN) especially when you need to work and have no other childcare options. However, our babies health is the priority! We don’t want other kids bringing all the germs in and risking our child’s health. Many daycares ask that children are symptom-free for 24 hours before returning to daycare.
  • ASK – How would you respond to a parent’s complaint about a teacher? What is the protocol for a complaint regarding a teacher being verbally or physically aggressive towards a child? Have you ever had any such complaints?
  • OBSERVE – Safety of outdoor play area.

CLEANLINESS

  • OBSERVE – Does it appear neat, organized, clean? Does it smell clean? Are the surfaces clean and non-sticky?
  • OBSERVE – Are there gloves and a paper roll on the changing table to ensure diaper changes are done in a hygienic way?
  • ASK – Do you have a toy cleaning/disinfecting schedule? Are the toys cleaned regularly?
  • ASK – Are diapers changed when they need to be or is there a changing schedule? Believe it or not some daycares change all the diapers at specific times of the day. So if your kid poops after that time they’ll have to wait in a dirty diaper until the next mass diaper change. Hello rash.

NAPS

  • ASK – What time are the naps and for how long?
  • ASK – What do the teachers do if a child is crying or does not want to sleep?
  • ASK – (If your child is not sleep-trained) Do you help the babies fall asleep (rocking, singing, etc)?
  • ASK – Do we have to provide sheets or do you? If they provide the sheets, how often are they washed?

SCHEDULING

  • ASK – What is a typical schedule of the day? What time are the meals and snacks?
  • ASK – How often are the kids taken outside?
  • ASK – What days of the year are you closed?
  • ASK – What time do you open and close? Is there an extra fee for early drop-off or late pick-up?

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