Top Tips for Choosing a Daycare

Woman Kissing Baby

I never dreamed of being a stay at home mom. That is, until it was time for me to go back to work. My daughter and I had created this great routine of outings, visits, play times and naps. (I especially loved the naps!) The last week before school started, I tried extra hard to cherish each moment. I knew I was going to miss her, but I had no idea just how much.

Transitioning back to work was going to be simple, in my mind. We found a daycare, I’m passionate about my job, I was starting at a new school which I was very excited about, and I figured I’d just snap back to the teacher I was before baby. Spoiler alert: I was wrong! (Kind of.)

My daughter was not quite one when I went back to work. We had found a home daycare many months in advance. I headed off to work thinking I had done everything I could to help ease her transition. I sent a photo album of our family, her favourite snuggly toy, the book she loved at the time, and a list of her favourite songs. Unfortunately, after a few days our care provider said she could no longer watch our baby. So there I was, after 3 days of telling myself the crying-all-day-and-not-taking-any-naps will get better, she’s just got to get used to it all…and then BAM. It won’t get better, because she has to go through this transition all over again at a new place. (If I could even FIND a new place on such short notice!)

I found myself spending what little time I had in the evening now searching for a new daycare. Operating on coffee and sheer will power since snuggles at 3AM are apparently absolutely necessary when you’re shell shocked from your daycare experience. And finally, through a beautiful soul in a Facebook mommy group, I was sent the information for my dream childcare provider. It was truly where we were meant to be all along. We exchanged a few emails, made some phone calls and set up an interview. We started a few days after that. After the first day, our daughter was laughing her little head off at pick up time. She was as happy as a clam in her new environment. This momma could finally relax and start to focus on work a little more.

Child Playing

My days went from complete worry and stress, to simply missing my baby and looking forward to seeing her at the end of the work day. Kind of how I had imagined it in the first place.

In the end, it wasn’t the “work” that was the most difficult part of the transition. Afterall, I’ve done my job before, but this is my first time being a mom. The hardest part was finding a place where my daughter would feel comfortable and happy so that I wouldn’t have to worry about her all day long.

I had a huge list of questions to ask caregivers that was found on a regional childcare website. I thought I had all of my bases covered.

Here are some things I would consider if I could rewind and try again:

  • Ask a potential caregiver what they do to help infants transition into their care — this one is huge. I ended up finding someone who was willing to baby wear for the first little while in order to establish a bond with my baby. This made a world of difference.
  • Check in with caregivers about sleep routines – do their philosophies align with yours? — We haven’t used the Cry It Out method and it would be a big shock to suddenly be expected to put yourself to sleep in a new, scary place immediately when you’re still a baby!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for a trial period to make sure it’s a good fit for your baby with the caregiver and the other children.
  • Try not to let your first day at work be the first full day you’ve spent away from your baby. It’s harder on you if you don’t know what to expect.
  • Give yourself lots of time to search for a caregiver who meets your expectations. Don’t feel like you have to take the first available spot you can find.

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