Daycare 101

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-20-2008
Daycare 101
Tue, 03-15-2011 - 7:32pm

Okay girls, I have some daycare questions for you.

We are rather clueless when it comes to daycare as the few couples we know with kids have one parent that stays home or grandparent babysitters.



iVillage Member
Registered: 04-22-2006
Tue, 03-15-2011 - 9:58pm
Hey Molly!

For your questions:
- You can ask for references when you go to the daycare. They should have a list of people willing to talk to potential families.
- Most daycares have you supply things like diapers, wipes, food if he won't be eating their regular food (i.e., BM or formula or whatever), an extra set of clothes, etc.. They should tell you what you do and don't have to supply (have this on your list of questions)
- Billing is done differently at different daycares. Some we saw were every two weeks, others were once a month. Most, however, were flexible with whatever works better for you.

As for questions to ask, here were the ones we had in no specific order (I got a lot of these from Jess too):
- can you do part-time (we were thinking of this)?
- what is the teacher-to-child ratio (they should follow strict guidelines - ours are set by the province)?
- what is the daily schedule like?
- do teachers create their schedules and activities, or do they use a specific early education program? Can you give us details?
- Do you have a spot available for our start date? If not, how long is the waiting list? How does the waiting list work?
- What do we have to provide?
- Do you use pre-prepared or process foods?
- What are your menus like?
- Do all the staff have first-aid training?
- What is the education/background of the staff?
- What are the hours you operate?
- What is the fee for late pickup?
- What are the days you are closed?
- What is your policy for people besides the parents picking up a child?
- What is your vacation policy?
- Do you give parents reports? If so, how often and what do they include?
- Do you allow parents to visit at anytime? Can they drop by unannounced?
- Are naps/food/diapers on a schedule, or done on demand?
- What are your policies on discipline?
- What are your fees and how are they paid?
- Do we need to make a deposit to hold a spot?
- What is your policy for sick children (if they're sick at home, if they're sick at daycare)?
- How often will they change rooms (if each age group is in a separate area)?

Most places should answer most of your questions as you have your tour or have a pamphlet or something for you to take with you. While taking the tour, just take a look at what's going on with the kids and teachers. Are the kids happy for the most part? Does the staff look bored? Are the staff interacting with the children, or just standing back?

Don't be shy about asking whatever comes to mind! We just signed Evan up for a daycare, and they say in their pamphlet that they're a "Christian Daycare", so we made sure to ask what that meant. Just ask whatever you need to ask to feel comfortable. Also, if you think of something else after the fact, you can always give them a call. Most daycares realize what a difficult decision it is, so they really try to make it as easy as possible on you.

Hope that helps. Good luck!

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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-25-2005
Tue, 03-15-2011 - 10:47pm

I will give you what I know. First, keep in mind that daycares vary alot, depending on the daycare, and the location. At my daycare, I drop Kaeden off at 6AM while he is still sleeping, most days. I am using an in home daycare, so I just bring him in PJ's. I always take a diaper bag, although she never uses it. I keep about 3 diapers and a few wipes in the bag, but I also pack his shoes and clothes for the day in there. I also keep a spare set of clothes in the bag, just in case. Most daycares want you to keep at least one change of clothes there, some of them more. I send my spare set in the bag, so I know it's a current size. I always buy a case of diapers and just drop off one big package (half the case) of diapers, and a refill of wipes as needed. I don't remember if you plan on CDing and BFing, so that will change the situation. When K was on formula, I would simply send a can of formula as needed. I initially took some small bottles , and then replaced them with a couple of big bottles. I would also send baby food in the diaper bag, a couple jars per day. Now that he is eating regular food, she supplies all of that. He gets breakfast, lunch and two snacks at her house per day. Daycare should be supplying all toys, unless there is a special toy or something. All of the daycares I have spoken with require payment each week, at the beginning of the week, before services are rendered. No pay, no daycare. (Burning sitters is apparently a pastime in my town.) I pay weekly, but I'm sure it would be dependant on your pay period at work. I would absolutely ask for references, current and past. I had a bad daycare, but it wasn't until I had experienced a bad situation that anybody who knew her said, hey! I don't really care for her. I had this bad experience. Check the references and check them WELL!!! This is your baby. Stop in unexpectedly, once you have chosen one. You should be able to walk in at ANY TIME during the day and see what is going on. Make sure you get a full tour of the facility. Anywhere your baby might possibly be should be open for your viewing and inspection. Ask to see the daycare license. It is to be posted in plain sight. Ask how long they have been licensed. If it occurs to you, ask it. How many kids do they care for at any time? How many total? Ask about the amount of time that they spend, holding, rocking, etc your baby. How long does the baby spend in a swing or bouncy seat at a time? What different activities do they have for your little one? They can't leave your baby sit in one spot for too long. They have to move him around throughout the day. I am sure that others will have more specific questions that you should ask. That was always my downfall. HTH!

Photobucket Special thanks to Katie (Hubbswifey) fo
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-15-2001
Wed, 03-16-2011 - 8:24am
I have no experience in this area, but I wanted to wish you good luck! Everything will be better for your family if you find a daycare that you love and that your little one loves. The one tip I've heard from lots of friends is to be cautious if the center has a strict rule about parents not being allowed to stop in unannounced. That would put a red flag up for me.

Best wishes!!!! How exciting that you are taking this next big step.
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-16-2008
Wed, 03-16-2011 - 9:26am


Alyssa already gave you a good list of questions to ask. One thing to check is your state licensing agency for childcare providers. I checked, and was able to see how our center ranked for all different things, and if they've been investigated for anything.

As for a routine: I drop Peter off around 6:45 every morning. I send breastmilk, 3 4oz bottles and a 2oz bottle. They provide one type of formula, but if you use a different type, you supply your own. Parents bring diapers. Since we use cloth, I take in 6 on Monday morning, and then just replenish to make sure they have 6 every other day--so if he uses 5 on Monday, then I bring in 5 more on Tuesday. If he needs more than 6, he's sick and I want to pick him up. Parents also provide wipes, so I take in a big refill pack and it usually lasts for a couple months.

Now that Peter is eating some solids, they provide jarred food. I can also send in things if I wish, if it's something they don't have. They have all the toys and everything. We did provide a blanket to keep in his crib there, but they wash it with all the sheets. Doesn't really matter, since he refuses to nap anywhere but the swing for them.

We pay weekly, though some places we talked to were on a monthly basis. To me, either of those options would be best. It's easy to remember to pay on the 1st or every Monday. I would get confused if it was a bi-weekly schedule.


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iVillage Member
Registered: 02-26-2008
Wed, 03-16-2011 - 11:31am

If you google daycare questions you will come up with a ton. I have a list if you want to private message me your email I can send it to you tonight when I get home.

we went and looked at mostly centers, I called a TON of in homes but they didn't have opening so we gave up. We toured them all at different times of the day, and stopped in unannounced one time each for them. I would highly suggest going to a few different ones and going with your gut. You will figure out what feels best. We mainly looked for a place that felt comfortable, clean and had happy kids. we actually didn't call any references, but that would be a good thing to do to.

We pay monthly, but we can pay weekly, we just do it because we have the money and then I can submit it for the Dependent care reimbursement we get sooner. We supply two receiving blankets, 2 to 3 changes of clothes, a bib, a pacifier, and a blanket for her while at daycare. We also supply wipes, diapers and diaper cream, and kleenex. We have to pay 100 a year on top of the weekly/monthly fee for registration to help them pay for other things they need. I bring in her Milk every day with her bottles, every thing labeled. I don't bring in any toys - too easy to get lost - although I do have a question to the ladies about bringing in her lovey and/or leaving it there.

At our daycare I drop her off around 8 and she has her first nap about an hour later. usually she plays in the bouncer, exersaucer or something until then. I know she then has some tummy time, floor time, swing time, they do music time etc. and then usually around 12 she goes down for her 2nd nap and sleeps for about an hour or an hour and a half...then its more play time and I pick her up around 4 or 5. if I get there later they usually try putting her down for another nap around 4 or 4:30.

I would just ask them how they do things, sickness, how often they clean etc, do they have professional cleaners, how are the kids split up - age wise, development wise. what are the things they are going to be learning. what is the ratio of caregiver to child. what are their hours, their rates. try to get the rate up front. We spent 1 1/2hours looking at this one place that was 500 a week. no way we could afford it. probably why she didn't tell me what her rate was, but I didn't ask up front. I wasted her time and ours. Also ask them about their sick policy etc.

GL! just remember in the end go with your gut!

Avatar for Cmmelissa
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-13-2008
Wed, 03-16-2011 - 12:53pm
You've gotten some great feedback, I can't think of too much to add.

Ask how often they are closed for holidays and/or vacation (especially if it's an in-home) daycare. Someone mentioned it, but having some type of parent report when they are infants is very helpful in determining how your baby is doing during the day with feedings and naps. Ask about medications, what they will administer, do they call you first? Also such things that if your baby ends up on breathing treatments, can they handle it? If they have a food allergy, would they be prepared, etc?

Although it's far ahead, you might want to check on preschool/school situations. Can they transport the kids to school?

This last one might sound silly, but when I was checking out daycares in February, never thought to ask if their house was air conditioned. It wasn't and I really felt bad for not asking about that first.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-15-2004
Wed, 03-16-2011 - 4:08pm

Lots of good info.



iVillage Member
Registered: 02-26-2008
Wed, 03-16-2011 - 4:44pm

ANother thing you might want to consider if you CD is that some places (centers) might not do the cloth diapers. We had people tell us when we were asking about the G-Diapers absolutely not - and that was when we were going to use the disposable inserts. So if you are going to CD make sure you can find a place that will do them.

One thing that kind of shocked me was the fact that our daycare doesn't rinse out the clothes when she has a blowout. but in talking to a few people at other centers this happens a lot. So I always sort of watch what I put her in, less stains that way. I guess I just assumed they would wash them. Luckily I have gotten most stains out. but it's not a big deal, just something I wasn't expecting.

Another thing is third hand smoke. Luckily even though there is one person at her daycare that smokes that works there and I have seen smoke on breaks, she wears a jacket, so it hasn't been a problem yet and now that she is older i am not as concerned about it. But when she was an infant we walked into one center and I could smell the smoke on this one girl. It didn't matter what else the person giving us the tour said because there was no way my child was going to be going there. I refused to send her to a place where she would have to smell it all the time and be exposed to that.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-04-2003
Wed, 03-16-2011 - 5:42pm
You've gotten some great advice and tips.

2 things I cannot stress enough, that are not questions but things you need to keep in mind 1) how convenient is their location and hours and 2) how well do YOU get along with the staff. Having a good childcare routine and getting along well with your providers are key to balancing work and family.

Ray didn't go to DC until he was 15 months old (XH stayed home w/ him before that). When he went I went w/ an in-home day care. Our provider had 3 of kids (2 of which were her granddaughters); we ended up being such great friends she came to his birthday parties and my SIL sent her kids there as well. I paid every other week, as that worked w/ my pay schedule. She provided all food and milk, and you got a menu every Monday and if you didn't want him to have what was served you sent in an alternative. We provided diapers, usually a case at a time and kept 2 changes of clothes there. We never brought a diaper bag. She provided wipes, bibs, etc.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-20-2008
Wed, 03-16-2011 - 8:12pm

Thanks for all of your responses ladies!