Ask These Questions Before Choosing Infant Child Care

How can you find a high-quality infant child care center? If this is your first experience with daycare, take a look at the questions to ask before you pick a program.

What Is the Staff to Infant Ratio?

You want the best for your baby. In daycare, that means your child gets plenty of attention and adult supervision. To ensure every infant is cared for properly, a high-quality center should follow state guidelines for staff-to-child ratios. While this may vary by state/area, the U.S. Administration for Children and Families provides general guidelines.

According to these guidelines, one trained adult should care for three to four infants 12 months or younger at most. This means if there are eight infants in your child's potential future classroom, ratio guidelines would require at least two teachers/trained adults.

How Many Infants Are in Your Child's Class?

Along with the ratio, ask the center's staff or director about the number of infants allowed in any one classroom space. Each infant class (children 12 months and under) should have no more than six to eight babies, according to the U.S. Office of Child Care's guidelines. This helps to ensure your child will get constant care and attention. If the room is packed with more children than can reasonably fit in the space or it seems like some babies need to wait for care, continue your daycare search.

What Does the Environment Look Like?

Now that you know more about ratios and the number of children who should fit into one classroom, it's time to turn your attention to the physical environment. What does the classroom look like? What types of furniture and toys/educational play items are available to the infants?

Look for a clean space that is free from trip and fall or other hazards. Your baby should have the ability to crawl or explore at will in a safe, injury-free way. The environment should also provide the infants with plenty of visual stimulation. This could include artwork on the walls, posters, or play items.

To learn more about the environment you can ask the center's staff for a description. While this can help you to better understand where your baby will spend their days, you also need to take a tour. While you tour the school or classroom, take note of how the space is set up, look for distinct eating/diapering/sleeping areas, and ask questions along with way. The more you know, the better you'll feel about your child care program choice.