Choosing someone to care for your child is a big responsibility and one of the most important decisions you will make as a parent. That is why it is important to avoid making the following five all-too-common mistakes:
Leaving your search until the last minute. Child-care spaces are chronically in short supply, so it pays to start your search as soon as possible -- especially if you are looking for child care for an infant. While you may still luck out and find the arrangement of your dreams despite the fact that you have left your search for the last minute, you increase your odds of finding something suitable if you start looking a little sooner. As a rule of thumb, your search should be well underway by the end of your second trimester. Of course, if you have your heart set on finding a space for your child in a particular day-care center, you will want to get your name on the waiting list even earlier than that -- perhaps as soon as your pregnancy test comes back positive.
Not understanding what makes for a good child-care arrangement. Most parents spend more time researching car purchases than they do educating themselves about what makes for a good child-care arrangement. Before you start making evaluations, you will want to arm yourself with the facts. Find out what caregiver-child ratios are appropriate for children of various ages; what training child-care workers are required to have in your particular state; what health and safety features you should look for in a child-care center or home day care; and what makes for a fun and stimulating child-care program.