Are you in need of childcare or recently had a change in your childcare arrangements? Read on for things to think of when searching and steps you may want to take!
In a little over a week our third child will be one year old. I would be lying if I told you that adding a third to our family was a low stress operation. She is as sweet as can be and relatively easy to handle, but the search for childcare yet again about did me in.
We had an incredible family member watch our first two boys until they were 18 months old. At a year and a half, we were able to transition into a daycare center that we loved and trusted. Our oldest is now in school and our middle child is in a lovely center close to home… but they don’t take infants. To add to our problem, my incredible family member returned to work and was not able to watch our new addition.
I was going to have to find infant care again, and the thought terrified me.
Finding childcare for a little one can be one of the most stressful situations a parent has to deal with. Through years of touring centers, interviewing nannies, and calling licensing agencies, I feel I have gathered helpful information and I hope to share some tips with all of you.
The idea of sending our infant to a daycare center was a struggle for me after having a family member watch my older two kids, so we originally started with a nanny.
- Leaving for work in the morning and returning home is amazing when you have a nanny. No drop off and pick up! I also work near my home, so I was able to come home and nurse her at lunch time.
- Baby had lots of cuddle time, with one-on-one care.
- When I had days off, I didn’t have to pay for care, which saved us money!
- Scheduling was tricky at times. If our nanny called off due to illness or vacation, we had to miss work.
- Having someone in your home requires lots of ASSERTIVE conversations. If you are more of a passive person, this may be difficult for you.
- Trust and accountability is hard with anyone new. We did have cameras set up for a period of time. I placed them in obvious locations so our nanny knew they were there.
I picked candidates that were CPR Certified and First Aid Certified and we met at local coffee shops. My kids came with so I could see if they liked the candidates. I ended up liking two individuals that I then invited over to our home for brief visits.
My final step was calling ALL references and doing a Facebook and Instagram search.
Finding a good daycare center is life-changing, but the search can be overwhelming. It is important to know what is important to you. For example, after touring MANY daycare centers, I realized I needed a small center with fewer children. Bigger centers were overwhelming for me. Also, preschool programming is important to me with my 4 year old, but not a priority when searching for infant care.
- Daycare centers are almost ALWAYS open.
- There are many adults present, which increases accountability.
- Structure, routines, and consistency abound, which is helpful in preparing kids for school.
- Many centers have licensed and educated teachers, which is helpful for early intervention.
- Daycare centers can be expensive.
- Ask about staff turnover, since consistency in teachers is important for children.
Tour MANY places to get the feel of what you like. Remember to place your child’s name on lists early, since infant care can be difficult to find!
If you are looking for Cass County, call Cass County Childcare Licensing to check on license violations. In my experience, this has been a friendly and helpful process. I highly recommend this step, as even frequently recommended centers in town had violations that I consider very concerning (like inadequate staffing in an infant room). Cass County also has ndchildcare.org, which has a lot of helpful information about searching for childcare.
In full disclosure, I have never used an in-home daycare, but I have toured some. I have friends and co-workers who swear by the family-friendly environment of a home. If interested, consider the following:
- Small environment
- Siblings can spend the day together
- Usually lower cost
- If in-home is ran by one adult, scheduling may be a problem at some times.
- Accountability can also be an issue (with less adults present).
Remember to follow the same licensing lookup steps as you would with a daycare center. Ask around for recommendations. Consider asking what other adults may be in the home or may have access to the children. Make sure these adults have clear background checks as well.
Once you have decided on the right fit for your family, make the next step. Remember that you can ALWAYS change your mind. We started with a nanny this year and we are now in a center, and this was a positive change for us. Finding the right place truly feels like creating your own village of support.
It is an amazing feeling when you can truly trust those who are caring for your child!
For more help finding the right child care fit, visit our Guide to Preschools & Child Care Centers in Fargo-Moorhead!