What are some things to consider and look at when looking for a daycare?

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    Going back to work after having a baby is a major life shift, whether you work from home or outside of the house. With so much to consider, it can feel overwhelming, but don't worry. We're here to help you create a new routine so you can meet this moment and find an infant child care where your baby and your family thrive.

    We asked our early childhood experts what to look for in a daycare for infants to get started. Here are their top suggestions on how to find the perfect place for your new baby to begin their education journey.

    Choosing a daycare can be stressful and overwhelming for a parent. This is understandable. You're sending your sweet little one to be with people who aren't you! There's so much to think about, even when you've finally zeroed in on good-sounding options.

    Before you begin your search for the right childcare centre, ask yourself why you are looking for care in the first place. This will help guide you to the right type of service.

    The type of care may differ depending on your overall objective. For example, if you are looking for someone to look after your child for an hour or two whilst you run errands, long daycare may not be the most appropriate service, and family, friends, a babysitter or perhaps an occasional care centre be the best option. On the other hand, if you want to provide early education for your kids, then a long daycare or a quality family daycare service may be better.

    Once you know what type of care best suits your needs, then it's time to find the perfect childcare centre. Here are some tips for what to consider when choosing the right centre for your child.

    Determine the type of childcare service you are looking for

    There are many types of childcare services to choose from. Before you begin your search, it's important to decide on the kind of care suitable for your family needs. Childcare can be categorised into the following:

    • Long Day Care (incorporating different educational philosophies, including early learning, Montessori or Reggio Emilia, to name a few)
    • Family Day Care
    • Occasional Care
    • OSHC – Out of School Hours Care
    • Informal care via friends & family
    • Nanny Service
    • Au Pair

    Safety first

    More than ever, safety is on everyone's mind. So as you are looking at infant daycare sites, check out their overall safety policy.

    Another important thing to look for is that your potential daycare follows safe sleep practices. When you take a tour, virtual or in-person, check for see-through cribs. Teachers should be able to see your baby every moment of every day, even when they're sleeping.

    Also, ask how they put babies to bed—and what's allowed in cribs. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies should sleep on their backs on a firm surface, without pillows, blankets, or toys in bed with them to reduce the risk of SIDS. Cribs are fitted with a firm mattress and tight-fitting sheet. To make sure naptime is safe, the only thing allowed in your baby's crib (besides their adorable, sleepy self) is a pacifier. 

    Curriculum and flexible schedule


    Yes, curriculum for your infant. It may sound strange at first, but this is one of the best times for learning. Another key thing to look for in daycare is that it will honour your sleep and feeding schedule. During your time at home with your baby, you've probably found a system that works best for your family. Although babies' schedules are never 100 per cent predictable, the right daycare will work with you to follow your routine as closely as possible. 

    While some daycare centres enforce naps at certain times, look for a place that pays attention to when your baby needs to sleep. Teachers should know how to watch each child closely for signs of tiredness. Eye-rubbing, sucking on hands or fingers, and heavy-headed nodding are all signs that it's time for some shut-eye. 

    Our teachers meet every child's needs during naptime—it's not a struggle or a fight. Whether your baby likes rocking, singing, being held, or using a pacifier, the right daycare will partner with you to learn what works best for your baby—and be there to comfort them right away when they wake up.

    Though your child may be wee, it's never too early to start age-appropriate learning. First, ask about the curriculum—what are they teaching the kids, their goals for these teachings, and tailoring them to their age and developmental stage?

    You'll also want to see plenty of time for free play and a movement and fitness component—e.g., playing outside whenever possible. Also, ask how you'll be kept in the loop about all of this: Do parents get regular updates about their child's daily activities and developmental progress? Childtime, also a part of LCG, has a holistic approach to your child's development that helps them reach their fullest potential.

    Visual displays chart your child's progress by documenting activities, lessons, and photos of your child learning. See if your daycare options have similar features. As busy parents, flexibility is key. Not only to accommodate work schedules (permanent, casual or shift work) but also unexpected personal commitments. It's worth considering if the childcare centre allows flexibility with the days of care you have booked for your child. Does the childcare centre enable you to change your days, and are there any penalty fees? Do they offer additional casual spots over and above the permanent days that you have already booked? What systems are in place to make this process easy?

    A clean and tidy environment

    Ever since your new baby arrived, your house hasn't been as clean as it used to be—and that's okay! But your daycare should always be clean and tidy. On your tour, virtual or in-person, look to see that teachers clean up after each activity and keep their classrooms tidy. When classrooms are spick and span, it's a great sign that a daycare knows what they're doing—and that they likely have cleaning policies in place to make sure the space is safe for infants to crawl and play to their heart's content. 

    For infant classrooms especially, keep an eye out for shoe-free policies. At Child Care Kinder, we have a bootie- or sock-only policy, and many of our teachers even bring their slippers just for the classroom. As soon as babies are ready to start crawling, it's important to give them the freedom to explore—and a shoe-free policy is the best way to keep their little hands and mouths away from germs and dirt while they discover the world.

    Did you and your child find the school welcoming and inviting, a place where the staff engaged with children in a positive manner? And does it seem safe? For example, does the school have procedures for entering the building—and who comes and goes with your child?

    Teachers that you connect with

    Maybe most important of all is choosing a daycare where you feel great about the people taking care of your baby. Teachers who take the time to talk to you and answer your questions (no matter how many you may have!) when you are looking is a great sign that they will communicate with you every step of the way, even after you've enrolled. 

    Whether it's on Zoom or over the phone, it's okay to ask about anything. No question is out of bounds, according to Kate Cassidy from Mercantile KinderCare Learning Center in Boston. But, she says, "A good daycare teacher has heard all of this before and will be more than happy to address your concerns." 

    Knowing the teachers will help you determine if your potential daycare keeps parents in the loop and how they communicate. Whether it's quality updates, messages, and real-time photos through an app or face-to-face connections at drop-off and pick-up (when possible) or even all of the above, choose somewhere that offers a form of communication that feels right to you. You've looked at the basic approach. Now you'll want to assess the who, what, and where. Look at the following: 

    • Are teachers trained and verified in CPR, first aid, and infection control?
    • Are there regular procedures to prevent the spread of germs?
    • Did you find the building, classrooms, and equipment clean and in good working order?

    Staff turnover

    Babies and toddlers love routine. Try to subtly find out how much staff turnover there is in the daycare. If they rely on temps or have a lot of teacher turnover, it can be stressful for your kiddo and you. Likewise, some daycare centres also operate as backup care centres, so different kids might come and go in your kid's class, which is not ideal. Do your homework to see if this is likely to happen in your chosen centre. 

    Licensing and accreditation


    Knowing the difference between a licensed centre and an accredited one can help you make your final decision. For daycares, licensing is the minimum. Any daycare you consider should be licensed to operate. However, nationally accredited centres go above and beyond to ensure teachers give your child the very best education possible. These centres aren't just safe places for your baby; they're also places where children grow their minds and prepare for the future. 


    What meals and snacks will be provided—and what's their quality? Do they align with your idea of health? Will they accommodate food allergies? Menus include a variety of foods that meet daily nutritional needs for young children. When you're pregnant, you might not worry too much about this as you'll be more concerned about nursing or bottle-feeding, but six months come around fast, and you need to ensure that you're happy with the food they're serving at your chosen daycare.

    Does it need to be organic? Will they be able to deal with allergies if you're kid has some? Ask to see the menu and question where the food is sourced from. Do they serve food or just snacks? Is it a deal-breaker if they don't serve lunch? 


    It may seem straightforward, but cleanliness can play an important part in choosing the right childcare centre. How does the childcare centre present? Is it clean and fresh or dirty, tired and run down? What are the hygiene procedures like? Are the staff nicely groomed and well presented?


    Of course, you want to know how much this is going to cost your family. Ask about any registration costs, the weekly rates, and what those cover. The price may sound great, but if they're not open summers and close every day at 2 and you need full-time care, filling in the gaps can get pricey. Make sure the cost/schedule balance works for you. Childcare costs can take a big portion of expendable household income, so it is no surprise that careful consideration of the charges is needed.

    Costs can vary significantly between services and locations. The lowest fee isn't always the cheapest, nor is the most expensive always the best. You have to balance the cost for the childcare centre's service and if you are happy with the centre overall. Also, consider what inclusions form part of the daily fee, as costs can easily blow out if you need to supply your food, nappies etc.

    Don't forget that the Government-subsidised childcare. Whilst many argue that it doesn't cover anywhere near enough childcare expenses, any form of subsidy can go a long way. Do you know what rebates you are entitled to? Are there any additional or hidden fees?

    Proximity matters

    This one is tough, but it's worth giving this decision a lot of thought.

    Do you need your daycare closer to your work or closer to your home? If you have a partner, how close does it need to be to their work? How close should it be to your pediatrician? Ideally, you want it close to everything, but you need to find the right mix for your family. Do a few dry runs in rush hour traffic to and from the daycare to see if the distance is feasible.

    Also, remember that you might have a screaming baby in the back seat in the future, so don't settle for a crazy long commute. 

    With ever demanding work and life schedules, consider the location of the childcare centre that is convenient for you. Is the centre close to home or work? How does this affect your morning or afternoon routine? Will you be able to get to the centre in time to pick up your child? As trivial as the last point may seem, it's important to consider this as many services charge hefty penalties for late pick-ups.

    Friendliness, Professionalism & Communication

    Leaving your child in someone else's care can be nerve-wracking, and you may want to know exactly what your child is doing throughout the day. From feeding times to education and play, keeping abreast with your child's development is important, so consider how the centre communicates this with you. How friendly and professional are the staff?

    They will be caring for your child, so you need to make sure that you are comfortable with them. We have met some amazing staff that are kind, warm, welcoming, open and honest, who essentially become part of the family, so be sure to meet the educators at the childcare centre.

    • Things to think about:  
      • How is the information shared between educators and parents?
      • What tools are used to communicate your child's progress at the centre?
      • How often is this communicated?
      • What feedback are you able to provide, and how is this incorporated into your child's learning development?


    Childcare centres have come a long way over the last decade, with some incredible facilities opening. From architecturally designed buildings, rooms and play areas to play equipment that makes the inner child in us want to come out and play.

    But having an architecturally designed childcare centre doesn't necessarily make it the best. Many other smaller or older centres have fantastic facilities with a clever design to incorporate learning, exploration and play. The important thing is to consider how the facilities support the education and care for your little ones and whether they create a fun and safe environment.

    • Things to think about:
      • What are the physical facilities like?
      • Are the play spaces big enough?
      • Are there enough toys and play areas for the number of children?
      • Is the environment safe for children to play and explore?

    Go with your gut

    Ultimately trust your gut feeling. It doesn't matter how amazing the centre is or how great the staff are, or if they have availability or the cost is low. Trust your instinct, and if your gut tells you to keep looking, then do just that.

    What to Look for in a Daycare
    • Director Education and Experience. ...
    • Educated & Highly Trained Classroom Staff. ...
    • Licensing & Accreditation. ...
    • Comprehensive Sign-in/Safety Policies. ...
    • Age-appropriate Activities. ...
    • Positive Teacher-Child Interactions. ...
    • Daily Routines & Full Walls. ...
    • Dedicated Reading Area.
    All children should be greeted by a staff member when they arrive and be encouraged to get involved in an activity – this helps them settle for the day. It's also good to encourage children to say goodbye. If your child is finding it hard to settle in, talk to the staff about what you can do.
    Factors, besides price, that should be considered when selecting a child care facility:
    • Hours of Operation. ...
    • Curriculum and Structure. ...
    • Ratio of Staff to Children. ...
    • References. ...
    • Cleanliness. ...
    • Training, Licensing and Credentials. ...
    • Snacks and Meals. ...
    • Turnover of Staff.
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