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Children's Health

Finding the Best Daycare for Your Child

Daycare for your children may be a fact of life if both parents work. But not all daycare options are good for your child. If you're just starting to look, first, decide which type of childcare is best for your situation.

Hiring a babysitter in your home or taking your child to the home of someone who watches a few children may be convenient or less expensive, but your best bet may be a group or center setting.

Things to think about

Before you make a decision on a daycare center (or another daycare situation), here are a few things to consider:

  • Be sure the center has a state license, and ask about accreditation. Make sure they are CPR certified.

  • Look for a ratio of 1 adult per 3 children under 1 year old, 1 adult per 7 children 3 years old, and 1 adult per 8 children 4 and 5 years old. Ask if caregivers are certified.

  • Be sure discipline doesn't involve isolation, humiliation, or intimidation. Make sure the center's policies agree with yours.

  • Be certain the center has a specific diaper-changing area, with a sink, separated from the rest of the facility. Watch to see that staff members wash their hands at the right times like after diaper changes and before snacks or meals.

  • Be sure the center was planned with children's safety in mind. Outdoor play areas should be protected with materials that can take impact.

  • Make sure the center's food and drink meet your child's dietary needs. Snacks and naps should be on a schedule. If your child has any food allergies, make sure the staff members know how to keep your child's snacks separate and free from contamination with foods that could make your child sick.

  • Ask about policies for special situations like when your child is sick or when you're stuck at work late.

  • Ask if they have current parent references you can contact.

  • Make sure the center follows guidelines to reduce the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and sleep-related deaths.

Online Medical Reviewer: Holloway, Beth, RN, MEd
Date Last Reviewed: 2/3/2015
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