Leaving your child at an in-home daycare can be nerve-wracking. By asking the right questions, you can help ensure that your baby is in good hands and create peace of mind.
After my son was born, I spent several months lounging around the house and enjoying much-needed bonding time. Unfortunately, maternity leave doesn’t last forever. As it neared the end of my leave, I had the challenging task of finding a care provider for my baby.
Most OBGYNs recommend waiting at least six weeks before returning to regular activities including work, according to ModernMom. However, most advise waiting until at least 12 weeks to ensure that postpartum bleeding has ended and any stitches have healed.
My husband and I agreed on an in-home daycare where my son could enjoy a home-like environment and more one-on-one time. Of course, we were nervous about leaving our baby in the hands of a total stranger. Before we made a decision, we did a lot of research and were sure to ask the right questions.
What the Experts Say
When you and your child are apart, you want to know that he is being cared for. Asking the right questions can help you feel more at ease and transition back into your normal work schedule more smoothly.
“You can save a lot of time screening potential sitters on the phone if you’re able to come up with a list of requirements that matter to you. For in-home care givers: Have driver’s license and own transportation? Could come by public transportation? Willing to do housekeeping? Willing to cook? Willing to stay some evenings and weekends (and at what rate)?”
Nina Barrett, I Wish Someone Had Told Me: A Realistic Guide to Early Motherhood
“Family day care is both the least expensive kind of children and the easiest to find. If you ask around, you’ll probably find a least a couple of family day cares up and running in your neighborhood. Whether they actually have vacancies is another issue entirely, but it just goes to show how popular this particular child-care option has become.”
Ann Douglas, Choosing Childcare for Dummies
“First, before enrolling your child at your chosen center or home, ask if you can come back to spend a few hours there with your child. We highly recommend staying away from anywhere that doesn’t allow you to do this. Second, once your child is enrolled, you should plan on popping in on your child unannounced at random times on different days, especially within the first few weeks of enrollment.”
Rebecca McLaughlin, Rita Palashewski, Daycare Diaries
“Look for a home daycare with a relatively small group of children. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) recommends having one caregiver for every three to four babies, and no more than eight babies in a group; one caregiver for every four to six children between the ages of 2 and 3; and 1:8 to 1:10 for 4- and 5-year-olds.”
Baby Center, Home Daycare Provider Interview
“Before making your decision about a childcare provider, visit several facilities. The more you know, the easier your decision and the more comfortable you will feel making it. Visits can be as short as 15 minutes and as long as an hour; the more time you can spend, the better.”
Building Blocks Home Daycare, On-Site Visit: Interview Questions, and Checklist for a Family Home Daycare
Questions to Ask an In-Home Daycare
1. Are You a Licensed Provider?
While rules vary depending on where you live, most locations require in-home daycare providers to be licensed or registered when caring for more than three children that are not from the same family. Licensed childcare providers are typically background-checked, undergo regular home safety checks, and must renew their license regularly.
2. What Schedule Do You Follow?
Having a routine schedule is important for both babies and children alike. Ask the provider what the daily schedule is like. Is the feeding and sleeping schedule similar to your own? What is the policy for watching television? Will the provider help with toilet training? Are there areas for both indoor and outdoor play? A good in-home daycare provider will have a set schedule to ensure that the day runs smoothly.
3. How Many Children Attend the Daycare?
Too much children in a daycare can make it difficult for your child to get the attention he or she deserves. Ask the daycare provider about the child to caregiver ratio and steer clear of providers that are caring for more children than the law permits. There should also be adequate room in the home for the number of children being cared for.
4. Do You Have an Assistant?
While some in-home daycare providers run their business alone, it can be helpful to have at least two providers in a home. One person is not always able to watch multiple children at once, especially if they must attend to other tasks such as cooking, cleaning, or potty training duties. Having an assistant will ensure that there is always proper supervision for your child.
5. What Is Your Visitation Policy?
Look for an in-home daycare center that offers an open door policy for parental visits. While it’s okay to ask parents to refrain from unscheduled visits during naptime, avoid providers that frown upon unannounced visits other times of the day. Parents should have the option to visit any area of the facility during regular hours of operation.
6. What Is Your Policy Regarding Sick Kids?
It’s only natural for parents to want their children to remain healthy. Many in-home daycare providers have set rules that do not allow children to come to daycare when they are sick and could possibly be contagious. Also ask how the provider handles payment related to illnesses. Will you still have to pay for days when your child is absent due to a sickness?
As a parent, it’s not always easy finding an in-home daycare that you can fully trust with the wellbeing of your child. Don’t be afraid to ask a million questions! The health and safety of your child is at stake. The right provider will kindly answer all of your questions to ensure that you feel good about leaving your little one in her care.