Health Notes

Choosing a Daycare

by Dr. Elizabeth Walenz on August 8, 2017

If you have a new baby or are simply headed back to work after time at home with your kids, you may be facing the decision of choosing a daycare for your infant or toddler. How do you begin?

More than half of American children under the age of five attend out-of-home childcare, whether it’s a center or home daycare setting or preschool. In order to continue to foster healthy brain development, the type of child care you choose is less important than the quality of care a child receives. A savvy parent needs to choose not only a quality daycare that will fit the child’s needs, but also meet the needs of the parent in terms of cost and hours the daycare functions.

Word of mouth from family and friends can be a good place to start, but you can also do a little bit of online research. Here are three great resources to find accredited providers:

Once you have your list and are ready to visit daycare centers close to your home or work, what questions should you have ready?

Class Size: Children receive more individual attention and nurturing when a caregiver is responsible for fewer children. There are certain standard ratios depending upon the age of the child. For instance, children under 12 months, maximum child-staff ratio is 3:1 with maximum group size of 6, however, 4-year-olds have a child-staff ratio of 8:1 with a maximum group size of 16.

Hours: What are the hours? Are there fees if you are late to pick up your child? What happens on holidays?

Dr. Elizabeth Walenz, Methodist Physicians Clinic pediatrician
Elizabeth Walenz, MD
 

Fees and Services: What is the cost? How are payments made? Are there reduced prices for siblings?

Qualifications and Training: Low staff turnover is ideal. Continuity of care is going to help your child to feel safe and in a stable positive relationship. Is the childcare provider certified in CPR?

Regular Visits from Child Care Health Consultant: The national standard recommends that center-based infant/toddler programs should be visited by a health professional at least once a month. The health professional helps to develop policies about health issues such as medication administration, infection control, immunizations and injury prevention.

Policies: The center should have a written policy for health standards, illness, medication, nutrition, discipline, transportation, media and outdoor play.

Discipline: As your child reaches toddlerhood, is the daycare on board with the similar discipline you implement at home?

Communication. How often does the provider give feedback about your child? On a personal level, does the provider appear approachable?

Remember, education starts and ends at home. Share books with your little ones every day. This skill can help teach them to talk and get ready to listen and learn at school. Have conversations with your child about what they did during school or daycare each day.

If you have further questions about how to choose a daycare, talk with your Methodist Physicians Clinic pediatrician or family medicine provider.
 

Dr. Elizabeth Walenz is a pediatrician now seeing patients at
Methodist Physicians Clinic Regency.
Contact Dr. Walenz at MethodistPR@nmhs.org.
Dr. Elizabeth Walenz, Methodist Physicians Clinic pediatrician

 

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