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: 09-12-2008
Sun, 03-27-2011 - 8:16am

Molly - It's great you're thinking about this now as it's such a big decision and definitely something you want to put some thought into. I've had various people watch Selin since she was 5-1/2 months old (when I went back to work from mat. leave) but I'll spare you all those details and just tell you what we're currently doing for daycare. :-)

As of last week, Selin is at an in-home daycare 5 days/week. I love this lady - she is certified by the state and does all kinds of fun activities with the kids, takes them to the library (she lives within walking distance), takes them on walks, does art projects, etc. She only has 4 kids at one time in her care. I do bring a diaper bag but only because I never know until the last minute if I or DH will be picking her up and sometimes we have to go somewhere afterwards. I also bring a sleeve of diapers and a big pack of wipes as needed (she lets me know when she's running low). I also keep a change of clothes, diaper rash cream, baby Tylenol and saline spray in her diaper bag. I signed a consent form giving her permission to give Selin the baby Tylenol if needed. My sitter provides breakfast, lunch and snacks. I don't dress Selin in any fancy clothes because she usually comes home with some dried food on her. I bring Selin's milk in sippy cups and bought these cool name bands to put on her bottles ( I had a coupon from Parents magazine and also found a free shipping promo code online so I got them for pretty cheap. I don't bring toys but I do have a small blanket, not really a lovely though, in her diaper bag.

We pay our sitter every week, on Mondays. We do have to pay half of her daily rate if she is taking a vacation day (which she lets us know way ahead of time) and we still have to pay for a day if we cancel less than 24 hours before. I don't have to pay for my vacation days though, like this week I am on spring break. Selin has been going to her since Dec. and knock on wood, so far the sitter hasn't gotten sick or had to take off any days unannounced. I do have my mom and a friend as a backup just in case though. My sitter also gets funding through the state for baby equipment and food and she goes to seminars and conferences. Oh and she does fire and tornado drills with the kids each month!

I definitely agree with Kate that convenience should be one of your top considerations. Our sitter lives in our neighborhood so she is like 2 minutes away, tops. My friend was also watching Selin a few days/week when I started student teaching back in Jan. because my sitter didn't have room for her initially 5 days/week until last week. My friend lives 15 min. in the opposite direction of my school (which is already 45 min. away) so on those days I had to wake Selin and myself up even earlier to give myself time to get there and it would take me longer to get to her on my way home.

The only issue we have with our sitter (who I found through my local moms group - she came highly recommended but I did check references) is that she is only open until 5pm. I didn't get my school placement for student teaching until after I had found a sitter so I had no idea what time I would be getting home from school. I don't leave school until 4:15pm on some days so I have to kill myself to get there by 5pm because I am 45 min. away. DH was 15 min. late picking her up one day last week (he did call ahead to let her know) and we had to pay a late fee. She has two school-aged children and on that particular day, she needed to be at their school by 5pm to pickup her daughter (which she neglected to tell me ahead of time) and as a result, her daughter had to walk home from school because she still had Selin. She wasn't mad about it or anything, it was just a miscommunication but slightly aggravating to me. She is good about me dropping Selin off earlier though if I have a meeting before school. One of the kids gets there around 6:30am but I usually don't drop Selin earlier than 7:15 on an early day. Most days she is there from 7:30/7:45 - 4:45/5:00. We also have to sign in and out when we drop off/pick up and we signed a form indicating alternate people who are allowed to pickup Selin if DH or I aren't able to.

Oh and one other thing is I wish she would write a daily note of what Selin does during the day but she does tell me verbally when I pick her up. Or if she knows ahead of time that my DH is picking her up (because he will forget everything she told him, lol) then she will send me an email of the day's report.

Sorry for rambling. Hopefully this was of some help to you! GL with your decision! Baby will do just fine - it's usually harder on mom than baby. :-)

Avatar for sandyc299
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-08-2008
Wed, 03-16-2011 - 9:05pm

You have already been given a good list of questions. I was going to say there are a lot of questions you can ask, you can do a search on the internet that is how we did. We use a home daycare (she isn't really a daycare though) since she watches less than 6 so it is considered a babysitter. Also I don't know what kind of daycare you are planning on using home or a daycare center. The issue we ran into was since she was a home daycare she had no other help. So, when her or her daughter was sick we were stuck with no one.

David Nicholas 12/5/09
Expecting a GIRL 3/23/13

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-20-2008
Wed, 03-16-2011 - 8:12pm

Thanks for all of your responses ladies!


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

Lots of good info.



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: 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!

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: 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.