Knowing what to look for in an infant care setting can help you find an arrangement that suits your baby and is a good first step toward putting your anxieties to rest. Start early and investigate at least a few options. Here are some factors to consider:
- Adult-to-child ratio: The more children each adult is responsible for, the less hands-on attention your baby will receive—and babies need a lot of attention to thrive. Look for a setting with no more than four children per adult caregiver. Once your child is preschool age, a larger ratio is fine.
- Qualifications: What kind of training and education is required of caregivers? Caregivers with degrees or other types of training tend to have a better understanding of child development.
- Consistency: How much turnover does the center experience? Will your baby be cared for primarily by one person or several? It’s best if your baby has the same caregiver for at least a year.
- Accreditation: Check licensing requirements in your state and make sure your child care provider meets them. Organizations such as the National Association for Family Child Care and the National Association for the Education of Young Children also accredit programs that go above and beyond health and safety guidelines in delivering quality care. Search for accredited programs online at nafcc.org or naeyc.org.
- Communication: The child care setting should have a policy that allows parents to visit unannounced, whether to nurse baby or just check in. Providers should be eager to answer your questions and to keep communication lines open.