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My son started daycare at 3 months old and due to the high demand in our area, we had to select a daycare months before he was born. Now he is a year old and I have learned a lot about leaving my most valuable possession with “perfect strangers”.

Before you begin searching what’s available in your area, there are three types of daycare options to consider: Center, in-home, and a nanny. There are pros and cons to all options, you just have to decide what is right for your family.

CENTER IN-HOME NANNY
PROS A lot of socialization

Structure

A lot of eyes watching

State regulations and check-ins

Most affordable option (in the Baltimore area)

Intimate environment

State regulations and check-ins

Don’t need backup care when your baby is sick

One-on-one attention

Potentially less colds

Convenient (nanny comes to you)

CONS Germs

You have to find back up care when they are sick

Expensive

Very limited openings for children under 2

Hard to find, many do not have a website or any kind of marketing

You have to find back up care when the nanny is sick

Socialization is limited

Nanny’s are not required to have a license and are not regulated

When weighing the pros and cons, we found we were drawn to the centers over in-home and nannies. They just seemed right for our family at the time.

We had a list of questions we used to evaluate and help make our decision. Keep in mind, we were looking for care for a baby, this list may be different when evaluation options for pre-school.

Choosing a Daycare: Tour questionnaire

Safety

  1. Is there enough staff to care for the number of babies in the classroom?
  2. Does the facility follow state mandated protocols?
  3. Do they have an emergency plan in place? Practice fire drills?

Cost

  1. Does the cost fit in the monthly budget?
  2. Are there any additional costs required (food, special activities, annual registration fees)?

Staff

  1. Is the staff friendly and attentive?
  2. Do they seem warm and caring?
  3. How do they speak to the babies and how are the babies responding?

Cleanliness

  1. Is the facility maintained?
  2. Do they sanitize the toys?
  3. Would I feel comfortable putting my baby on their floor? In their bouncy chair?

Stimulation (Education and Play)

  1. Do they work with the babies to meet basic developmental milestones?
  2. Do they encourage imagination?
  3. Are the children exposed to art and music and physical play?

Structure

  1. Do they have a weekly schedule and daily routine?
  2. Do the children seem engaged?
  3. Does it seem like the caregiver has control of the classroom?

Citations

  1. The state checks up on all licensed childcare providers and provides those citations to the public. Here is a link to the state of Maryland. We checked each daycare before touring the facility and asked questions about the citations we were concerned about.

Convenience

  1. What are their hours of operation?
  2. Is in-route to work or near the house?

This is a long list and near impossible to find a center that checks all of these boxes. We knew which items we were not willing to budge on to ensure our baby was in good hands. This list helped narrow our options as we toured different daycare centers.

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