Choosing Childcare

How to find the right day care provider for your baby

Have you been feeling nervous about sending your baby to childcare? Guess what? That’s 100% normal. After all, you’re leaving your precious one with a stranger and trusting your baby will be cared for as well as you would care for them.

Every childcare provider will be different. Just as there are many parenting styles out there, you’ll find childcare exists in a variety of formats. This doesn’t necessarily make them ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than each other, it’s more about finding a childcare provider that best suits your family and your style of parenting.

So here are some tips for investigating your options and selecting what’s going to suit you.

The logistics

This one’s easy to find out. Opening and closing times, costs, parking, and location will all impact your decision. Other things you might want to check include holiday hours, what occurs if a carer, your child, or another child under care is sick, and what the security is like. Finally, there’s the issue of availability and waiting lists. Some charge a fee to go on a waiting list, so it’s worth checking if that’s the case and if the fee is refundable.

The style

I mentioned there are a wide range of styles of childcare out there. It’s up to your family to choose what’s best for your needs and budget. Your options include long day care, family day care, occasional care, informal care provided by friends or family, a nanny or au pair. Long day care providers will differ in their early learning philosophies too, e.g. Montessori, cognitive based, or the Reggio Emilia Approach to name just a few. 

The food

Will the childcare provider be giving the baby food? Will you have to pack your own? If they are providing food, what is it like nutritionally speaking? These are all important aspects to consider. Some parents will prefer to send their own food for the baby, while others prefer it if a carer provides meals. It’s up to you!

The kids

The smaller the baby, the more attention they will need. Caregiver to child ratio is going to impact the amount of one-on-one attention your child receives. So, it’s important to find out what that ratio is and even better if you can learn a bit about the temperaments of the other kids who will be in care with your child.

The legal bits

Does the childcare provider have the correct qualifications and registration? Are they adhering to the National Quality Framework which aims to raise quality and drive continuous improvement and consistency in children’s education and care services? It’s definitely worth investigating their National Quality Standards (NQS) Rating too. You should be able to find their rating out of 7 quality standards at the NQS website.

The reviews

Talk to other parents and read Google reviews. Do a bit of asking around the community about the childcare providers that interest you. Bear in mind other parents will have their own preferences which may differ to your own. Don’t bother reading testimonials and reviews the carers show you as these can easily be fabricated. Genuine reviews will give you behind the scenes insight into how the childcare operates and reveal details the providers might not want you to know.

The facility

Organise to visit in person and look around. Even better if you can drop in unannounced as you’ll get a more accurate idea of how things run when staff aren’t expecting outside visitors. Look at the cleanliness, toys and environment, safety and how everyone is interacting with each other and the space. When you’re there, trust your instincts. If your gut is telling you something isn’t right, then walk away and look for something new.

The staff

Find out about their qualifications. Ask if they have been screened or police checked, and how long they have been on staff. High staff turnover is a big red flag. If you’re looking at home day care, it’s important to ask who else might be in the house when your child is present. When you visit, pay attention to how happy the staff members appear and whether children are happy around them.

It can be time consuming to find the right day care for your needs, but it’s worth it.

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