Daycare Search

We are finally starting to seriously look into daycares for Baby MPB.  We still have our temporary nanny, but we know we could lose her any day as she is actively looking for work in her chosen profession.  And, while having a nanny giving full time attention on Baby MPB has it’s benefits (i.e. baby MPB is at home so we can snuggle and check in on him at any moment, he gets constant attention, we know what he’s eating, etc.) we do think it is getting closer to the point where we’d like him in daycare.

Our main driving force behind this is that we think Baby MPB would benefit from being around other children on a regular basis.  I think there is something to be said about being socialized with other children.  Watching him over the holiday’s it was very evident that he absolutely loved the action and energy of his cousins and friends.  And, the reality is right now he is an only child and that’s not about to change anytime soon, so the best way to get him exposed to other children on a regular basis, is to look into daycares.

As a quick aside, we would consider a day-home (a maximum of 6 kids are cared for within a private residence) but we cannot find any government approved ones in close proximity to our house.  But, we have a lot of daycare options around us, so daycare it is.

I wont lie, I love having him at home while we are working.  I joke that I’d be happy to keep him at home forever, but I know this really isn’t true!  But, we do think for his overall development we should consider transitioning him to a more kid-centric setting somewhere between 12-18 months.  And, since we may lose the temporary nanny at any time, we really should at least have our ducks in a row and have a daycare selected sooner rather then later.  We are relieved that we should be able to get a spot for him in our preferred centre without any wait, thanks to the poor state of the economy where we live.

Also, I have a new found concern about daycare – Baby MPB picking up bad germs and bringing them home.  This honestly has more to do with me then him – so far he’s been very resilient whenever he’s been sick, and I do think he’ll be fine.  However, it’s become quite clear that I am not resilient as I seem to have essentially no natural immunity to any sort of illness.  Also, as both Mr. MPB and I are both self-employed if Baby MPB cannot go to daycare because he has a cold that means one of us cannot work which will be a challenge since neither of us have any sort of company support to accommodate sick days.  So, I’m curious how often are daycare kids (and parents) sick?  Does anyone happen to know how many days a month the average daycare kid misses because of illness?

Regardless of my not so healthy half-joking desire to keep Baby MPB home with me for the rest of my lives and what I think are reasonable fears of illness, we have decided to go check out 4 different daycare centres that are pretty close to our house.  I’m really hoping I don’t turn into a slightly crazy over-protective mom and hate them all for some silly reason!

Does anyone have any advice for what to watch for at each daycare?  And, what questions should we ask when we tour them?  And should Baby MPB tour them with us?

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32 Comments on “Daycare Search

  1. The best advice I can offer is to trust your instincts. We looked at a daycare that was absolutely lovely. The director held Charlotte and gave her a bottle while we were chatting and in that moment, something dinged on my mama radar and I knew I didn’t want to leave Charlotte with that woman. I can’t say for sure what it was. Just a feeling. No regrets, either!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. Trust your instincts. I went through 4 daycares in 3 weeks until I found the one I liked. Rough to balance finances are the level of quality and care and where Baby MPB feels happy. Good thing you are starting the search early.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We are going to look at 2 daycares tomorrow. Thank you so very much, both Mr. MPB and I are re-reading all these comments today so we feel more prepared for tomorrow!!!

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  2. My kid had to go to daycare at 7 months because I had to go back to work and she was sick nearly every month and then my husband and I got sick. Never had bronchitis in my life until I got this baby. The daycare calls if they have a fever or diahrrea or if they are just overly fussy. It was a rough couple of months. The baby was 12 months in December and had a cold and pink eye and I had a sinus infection and my husband had a terrible cough. We were still recovering by Christmas. Not fun at all. Expect Baby MPB to be sick for the first 5 months of daycare

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  3. I spent 8 years working in public daycare here in the states. I have no idea what it is like where you live though! Certainly take baby with you to tour. You can learn a lot by how he acts in these places. They just have better judgment sometimes:) Ask what their turn over in staff is. Around here it is hard to keep good staff and you could walk in each week with a new person in his room. Which sucks and you don’t want that. Also, will he have his own crib/mat? Do you need to supply diapers, wipes, snacks, food? Around here it is different for each and then some people may not like what the center supplies. Another good question is what do they do for discipline? Such as, what if your child bites, hits, etc?
    Also ask what their sick rules are. They normally have a temp max, poop max, vomit max and so many hours/doctors note before kids can return. I would say my kid has only stayed home 3 days in her 10 months of daycare. She started at 4 1/2 months though. I have stayed home sick myself (with germs she brought home) a total of 2 days. I have had plenty of other germs from her that didn’t warrant staying home though!
    In general just look around at cleanliness, do staff have their phones out, how many kids are screaming, are the kids engaged in activites…it sounds basic but there can be such a difference in one place to another.
    I always suggest visiting mid morning as well. Late afternoon, after naps, staff changes and kids are at their max for the day. They are just in basic play mode and ready to be picked up. Hard to judge at that time of day.
    Long winded answer for you:)

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you so much!!! We are going to look at 2 daycares tomorrow that have open houses, so both Mr. MPB and I are re-reading all these comments today and we are both so thankful for your suggestions!

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  4. I don’t know about the average kid, but our little guy has been in daycare since he was four months old (half days for the first two months and full days after that), and he’s currently 10.5 months old. We had one terrible week-long saga (fever followed by ear infection followed by rash from antibiotics) where he didn’t go to daycare at all, but other than that it’s just been the odd day here and there where he gets a fever or something and he’s fine the next day. They’ve only called us to pick him up early due to fever once. I’d say maybe five or six random days over the past six months, plus the awful week? So that’s about 10 days of missed daycare over the course of 6.5 months. No idea how typical that is. I hear that the first year is the worst, and after that they’ve been exposed to all the common stuff so they don’t get sick as often. I think it’s also worse if you happen to have a kid who’s prone to ear infections or something, which is hard to know ahead of time.

    As for things to look for, obviously safety, but I assume that Canada has similar safety standards for licensing as the US (most of the horror stories I’ve heard have been from unlicensed daycare centers). One thing we love about our daycare is that caregiver turnover is very low and the caregivers are very experienced, which I think is a good general quality to look for. Two of the five teachers in my son’s infant/toddler classroom have been at this daycare for over 25 years, and you can just tell that they are really great at their jobs and love it. Another good thing to look for is that for the infants they are extremely flexible on eating/sleeping schedules — some places are very rigid and try to get all the babies on the same schedule, but at our daycare they just adhere to whatever the parents’ preferences are. One down side of our daycare (very common in the US, unfortunately) is that the cribs where the infants nap are arranged around the border of one of the toddler play areas. Our son almost never naps more than half an hour at daycare. Maybe some of that is our fault, because we worked really hard to give him a pretty ideal sleeping area at home (white noise, blackout shades), and daycare is a thousand times more stimulating so he almost never takes long naps there. I don’t know how any kid sleeps in such a stimulating environment, but many of them manage it! I hear that there are some daycares that have napping areas for infants that are more quiet, dark, and isolated. I know part of it is for safety — I think someone is supposed to be able to see the napping infants at all times, and it would be too expensive to have someone just sit and watch sleeping babies, which is why it has to be within sight of a play area. For us, the most important thing about finding a daycare was that it was play-based and felt warm and loving, which is something that you can really only judge by spending time there. The preschool at our daycare is very play-based and not academic, which is what we wanted for our son. I think it’s also great if you can ask for the names of some former families to talk to — since our son is at my university’s daycare, we knew lots of people who had been through the daycare and loved it, and that also helped us feel good about it.

    Good luck! It’s also wonderful that there’s availability where you live — the wait list for our daycare is almost a year long! It can be a difficult and slightly scary proposition to find a place where your son will be spending so much time, but I’m sure you will be able to find a great situation for all of you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so very much for all your thoughts!! Seriously, this is so appreciated. We are going to check our 2 daycares tomorrow so I’m back re-reading your comment today. 🙂
      I will add, the one day care we have a friend who has 2 kids at it, and they’ve been going for a few years. That reference means a lot to us!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. We have charlotte in a home daycare, we started her one half day a week in October, and I returned last week to work part time. In all honesty she’s picked up more at the supermarket! Seriously!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for this. I think you are right, just being out in public definitely gives kids the chance to pick up germs – we cannot keep them germ free for ever, nor should we really.

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  6. I found that there was subtle differences in sick policies between daycares, so that’s worth asking about.
    We chose our daycare last summer and Aviana prob won’t be starting until April! The teachers were what made the choice easy-and their security/health and safety was clearly at a very high standard, something more observed than asked about. I think taking baby MPB is a good idea, he will help you make the choice!
    Good luck!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for sharing your experience! A few years ago here you’d be on a waitlist before the child was born, I’ll admit I’m glad we didn’t have to be that prepared! 🙂

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  7. I don’t have advice as to what to look for, but I agree with the others about trusting your instincts. I will say that at least here, kids in day care are generally sick A LOT. My friend C and her son have been sick since before Christmas because of his day care. They just keep passing it around in there, so she and her son keep passing it back and forth as well. She is as the point where as soon as her husband gets a raise, she’s quitting her job just so they can be healthy again. Not trying to scare you, just letting you know what I know of it!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am quite anal about daycare sick policy to be v honest.
    I ask about their sick policy, and also how often they disinfect toys and surfaces. At A’s daycare
    A set of toys goes into the sanitiser every 45 minutes. How many roseola and HFM cases have they had and do they bleach after?
    How do they help kids eat? If the child doesnt eat the finger food do they offer baby food? Do they follow a strict routine or let the child ease into it? V imp because one daycare I interviewed didnt let 12 month olds nap more than once and most 12 month olds still need teir morning nap, so that was a deal breaker for me.
    How many times do they take kids out in a day ?
    Basically when you walk in, see how happy rhe other kids are. See how long do they hold a crying child to calm etc. You will be able to spot red flags, all moms do.
    And expect the kiddo to be sick non stop for 2-3 months. Not fever sick, but constant runny nose, cough and throw in a few ear infections. All kids go through it. If you avoid it by not sending kids to daycare, then they catch it at school. Its just a rite of passage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, as always, thanks for your thoughts! I assumed toys would be washed frequently, but now I’ll definitely be asking how frequently!
      We are off to check out 2 daycares tomorrow that happen to be holding open houses, so hopefully we can get a feel for them. I think we’ll go back and check them out during regular business hours too.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t have experience with daycare because I’m staying at home with our daughter for the time being, but I can say that my girlfriend’s daughter gets sick probably 2-3 times per month at daycare. However, she’s only been going since September and it seems that everyone gets sick more often through the fall / winter in general. I think as spring approaches, this number will lessen, especially as her immune system strengthens.

    I’m not sure what you’re doing to strengthen your own immune system, but I would look into probiotics, if you haven’t already. Perhaps seeing a naturopath for some additional immune system support might be helpful too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your thoughts and for sharing about your friend’s daughter experience!! I already make sure to have probiotics and vitamins in hopes of helping my immune system. 🙂

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  10. I’m going to second everyone else’s recommendations to visit several and see where you (and Baby MPB) feel most comfortable. Definitely good to ask about sick policies and sanitizing toys/cots/etc. The daycare my daughter attends has a program for educational development and works to plan activities to encourage age-appropriate learning. I like that and it seems to help her.

    But yeah, he (and by extension you and Mr. MPB) are probably going to get sick. We hit the fall cold/flu season and despite a clean daycare and everything else, my daughter seems to have a cold about every couple of weeks. November was horrible with 2 rounds of stomach flu (both of which I caught – ugh). I’ve been assured though that it doesn’t matter when the kids start going to daycare/preschool/school, they go through this phase. It’s just not fun. If you want to ease into it, though, and it’s possible for you, you could try starting closer to the end of March or in April when cold/flu season is tapering off. E started daycare in April and only had a couple of colds/ear infections – none of which we got – until we hit October.

    Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You have heard some great advice, but i will add the folliwing ascwell:
    1. Video supervision in the rooms where the babies are so you can see it (usually available at the nursery. I doubt they would let a parent own a private copy because of other kids)
    2. Be precise what you want from them. Some ladies wouldnt remember to wipe baby’s nose. Tell them to do so or to change his shirt if it is wet from drooling.

    For you, i would advise you to pick him up at different times, basically to show up suddenly. This way you might see more than when you come at expected times. Also, always check him thoroughly when you bring him home from the nursery.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Lots of great suggestions on here so I won’t repeat them. Daycare was the best thing we could have done for our son when my one year mat leave ended and I had to return to work back in August. Not only are they socializing with other kids, but every day regular life lessons are learned, like sharing, manners, how to sit at the table and have meals with everyone, regular routine, etc. Those are pretty huge. My son has basically had 1-2 colds a month since starting daycare but he hasn’t missed a single day because he’s sick. Their rule of thumb (we are in Canada) is that if the snot is clear, he can come to daycare. If it’s green he stays home. If he has a fever they don’t administer any pain medication like Tylenol, but they will call us and ask us to come and pick him up. If he has a fever he has to stay home for 24 hours after the fever breaks. If he has a slight fever in the morning we aren’t allowed to just give him Tylenol and send him off to daycare because the drugs kicked in. They have had all the usual daycare sickies go around like Croup, Hand Foot and Mouth, and right now is a tummy virus. But our son seems pretty resilient (*knock on wood*) and has only caught the colds. We have had more colds in the last 5 months than we have in years. It sucks, but it’s all part of it. If you look at it this way, if he doesn’t go to daycare as you are worried about the germs he will bring home, he’s just going to bring them home once he goes to kindergarten and you will have to go through it all then. So, I think in some ways, it’s easier to get the immune building out of the way now. Start taking regular vitamins (with some research you can find ones that are good for strengthening your immune system) and that will help reduce how frequently you get sick from baby MPB.

    All that being said. When you start looking for daycares, ask to do tours. All daycares should be willing to do this. A lot will set times that you are allowed to come so the kid’s routine isn’t too disrupted by strangers wandering around. See how the caregivers interact with baby MPB when you do the tour. Go with your gut. If the place doesn’t feel quite right, don’t commit to it. We only looked at two daycares, but the first one was just all wrong so we checked the second one, which was owned by the same woman, and everything was right about it. Look for things like art projects on the walls. It shows that they do interactive things with the kids. Cleanliness is obviously a big one. Ask to see where baby MPB would be napping. Whether you will need to bring your own crib sheet or anything for the naps. Ask if you can send a favourite blanket or teddy bear from home so the smells of home are there at nap time. Great daycares will provide flexibility for you and try to maintain what you do at home, while at daycare. Most kids will naturally fall into the same routine as the other kids at daycare, but if baby MPB is taking two naps a day still when daycare starts, but daycare only has one nap on their daily schedule, a quality daycare will ensure baby MPB gets the two naps of the day. Good, secure outdoor space is another thing. You don’t want baby MPB to be locked inside a daycare all day on a busy street. Kids need fresh air and the chance to run around, so make sure they have a good sized play yard. Also check to see if the number of caretakers to kids is balanced out. Ours has two caregivers for 6 kids. They don’t allow any more than 6 kids in the “baby” section, and only 5 kids in the “older kids” section. So the kids get a lot of one on one attention from the caregivers. There are lots of things, and it’s hard to stomach the idea of sending your baby off to someone else to care for. But, I think every mama needs a break, even if it means she’s at work. It makes the evenings after work that much more special because you have that time together after a day apart. Plus, nothing beats your excited toddler coming racing to you at the door and hugging your leg with excitement when you come and pick them up and then taking you to show you all the fun toys that they were playing with. Heart explosion right there!!

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  13. You have received tons of great tips. I agree with going with your gut. And I also think you should bring baby MPB. You want to see how he takes to the place and the caregivers! Good luck.

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  14. I went with heaps of questions, but it really came down to how I felt when I was there. The “teachers” in the room he’d be in made the biggest difference, as did the brightness and just general feel. There was a place that made organic baby food, provided diapers, etc and it made me feel horrid being there. You’ll feel it when you find the right one!

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  15. Aaahhhhh they get sick SO much at first but it does pass. The socialisation is worth it IMO. Our fav daycare isn’t necessarily the prettiest and shiniest but the one where the staff are THE BEST. It is all hear there. Our son went from 9 months and our daughter will go from 1. Like another person here said – trust your instincts. You will know what feels right. Good luck!!!

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  16. Well baby E is 8 months and started in-home day care in October. Since then she’s missed 4 days but 3 of those have been this week and the other one she probably could have gone, we were just being extra cautious keeping her home.
    So yeah, being in day care has definitely exposed her to more germs but my friends in the medical profession keep reminding me it’s good to strengthen her immune system.

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  17. as with anything there are positives and not so positives. trust ur instincts and pay attention to the smell. smells tell a lot in a daycare and if the smell makes u feel funny or uneasy, etc then pay attention! when u find the right one u will know, then once u commit u will question urself and then it will work itself out. daycare is great for socializing and learning…not so great for sickness……but baby mpb will have a much stronger immune system for it…you? not so much! lol

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  18. My daughter has been in two daycares. One really bad one and one that’s the best of the best. Tours can be very misleading as they obviously want to look their best. Look for how easy it would be for non parents to get access to your kid. Do you just sign your name to pick the kid up? Is it a code? Our current daycare uses a fingerprint scanner to get to any area with kids. You can’t get through the locked doors without it. Ask if he will have the same teachers or if they rotate. Our first daycare had no consistency once her primary teacher went home. She was being called by the wrong name for a week because the floating teachers didn’t care. Ask how you address concerns if you have them. Also, how often they clean and what happens if a kid gets a very contagious illness.

    If you can look at the other kids and see how dirty their knees and pants are. This will tell you how clean the rooms are. Our girl used to come home disgusting from the first place covered in dirt. Also ask how they deal with discipline and biting and what their sick policy is if there is a fever. They should show you sample schedules and many daycares now have either a video feed or an app that you can get updates and photos of your kid throughout the day. The app updates make me so happy while working.

    As for how sick, starting out its going to be rough. Lots of sniffles, occasional fevers, etc. However, after the first 6 months in daycare, it normally starts to get better. Our current daycare cleans and disinfects toys nightly. If a kid is diagnosed with something contagious, the last disease was hand foot and mouth, they bring in an environmental team and deep clean the room with kid friendly cleaners on top of their normal cleaning. It helps a lot to cut down on the germs.

    We have been at one bad one, like I said and now are at an amazing one. We toured six daycares in between. If your first choice isn’t a good fit, don’t be afraid to change. Our first one looked amazing on paper but they didn’t follow through on anything that they said they do. I feel awful as a parent that she was stuck there for so long.

    If you have any daycare questions, just ask. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Ahhh…a post that lies within my expertise! 😉 First off, the first thing is make sure that whatever center/home you put them in has an open door policy, meaning you can pop in anytime you feel like it to check on how Baby MPB and the teachers who are caring for him are doing. I have this and although I’ve never had a parent take advantage of doing it, I think it gives them a peace of mind. Make sure you check and see what their policies are on sick children and whether or not you receive any sick days that you don’t need to pay for. For my full time kids, once they’ve been in my care for 3 months, the family gets 5 sick/vacation days to use per year where they don’t have to pay. After those are used up, they have to pay even if their child is gone. Centers rarely have this and usually, you have to pay whether or not they are there (at least in the US). Read the contract very carefully. There’s a center in my hometown that kicks kids out at the drop of a hat. I’ve ended up with a couple of them and while they could be more challenging at times, they were essentially good kids that maybe just needed something more than the standard discipline to help them throughout the day. Check for cleanliness…if they have a kitchen on site where they prepare the food, ask to see it. Ask to see a menu for the week/month so you can see the kind of foods the children will be eating.

    As for kiddos being sick when they first go to daycare…yes, that first year, they are going to pick up germs more easily and because you seem to get everything Baby MPB picks up, you may be sick more often too. I am going to say, that A has essentially been in daycare since she was less than 2 weeks old, and she’s a preemie and she’s only had one minor cold that lasted 2-3 days while the rest of my daycare kids have had awful green runny noses, coughs and even hand, foot and mouth disease. The only difference between them and her is that she gets thieves oil diluted with v-6 oil rolled onto her feet every single morning when I get her dressed for the day. I cannot recommend it enough. I will send you more info about it via email because I truly think it would help your household. If you have any more specific questions related to daycare, email me and I’ll do my best to answer even though we’re in 2 different countries. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I am an assistant director in a daycare and I can honestly say, the best way to really see what the center is like is to drop in unannounced and ask to see the place. If you schedule a tour they will make sure every teacher knows there is a tour and everyone will be on their best behavior. You won’t get an accurate image of the center or teachers.

    As far as being sick, the first month or so is usually the worst. Once you get passed that you’re good. Flu season is when you’ll miss the most days, but in my experience kids are very rarely out. Just remember, a runny nose isn’t being sick. Don’t be too overprotective, but also think about the best interest of all the children.

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    • Thanks so much for sharing!!! I really appreciate your ideas! Now that we are on the waitlist at our preferred location we plan to drop in unannounced. An open house is a good starting point but we want to see what it’s like during the chaos of the day. 🙂
      I should add, one of our friends has her 2 children enrolled at our preferred location. So, we have a pretty good insight into the way the daycare works – both positive and negative too. Which I am thankful for! There is nothing like a honest review from someone who entrusts the place with their children. 🙂
      Thanks again!!

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