Advice Needed for Daycare Facilities, Baby Shopping , Birthing Classes Etc

Updated on April 10, 2010
S.K. asks from Chicago, IL
13 answers

Hi moms,

I have a few questions regarding planning certain things for my baby.I am now in my 5th month. I don't have many friends here who have babies , so it would be great to get advice from all of you.

1. I would like to know when should I start looking for day care facilities? Also , any input on what to look for in a good day care and how to know if it would be safe to leave an infant(3 months) in their care will be much appreciated. Is it necessary to book well in advance? I don't know anybody personally who send their kids to daycare in my area, so I am not sure how to get recommendations.

2. I haven't started any baby shopping yet. What are the must buys before the baby is born? Also what brands do you recommend that are safe for car seat,stroller, bath seat etc. This is my first baby so I am planning on shopping a lot and am willing to spend a little more for safer products. I would rather buy new stuff than buy used ones on craigslist.

3. When do I register for birth and breastfeeding classes? I am assuming it's taken in third trimester? Also how do I select what class is good for me. I will enquire about this with my OB/GYN next time but I would like to know if you recommend these classes and any others for first timers.Are they really helpful? Also I will be out of the country in my 7th month , so is it better to take these classes before that or after?

Also please let me know if there is anything else that I need to plan before the baby is born.

Thanks a lot in advance!

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answers from Minneapolis on

It has been long enough since I've had babies that I can't answer questions 2 and 3, but as to question 1, you should be looking at daycare centers now! The really good ones only have spaces every once in a while, and they have long waiting lists. The sooner you find a great center and get on their list, the better.

Message M. separately if you'd like more info about what to look for in a daycare center.

More Answers



answers from Dallas on

Hi there. I'm due any day now with my first so I have very limited information. Personally, after seeing how much one baby sleeper cost, I looked on ebay and quite frankly, that was the best thing I did! The baby clothes were sold in "lots" - 100 pieces for $20, or something similar. At anyrate, I bought 5 heaping baskets of clothes (I just washed all of them) for about $150. I had to throw out 2 pieces b/c of stains, other than that, everything was perfect. You will also find that everyone has an opinion about what brand to get - just take it all in and make your own decision.

One piece of great advice I was given was to cook and freeze meals (food saver bags are great!) for when you're exhausted at the end of your pregnancy and as a new mom. This has already helped M. several times. I wish I cooked and froze more. Good luck.



answers from Minneapolis on

I would start looking for daycare now! Go in, ask questions, and see what/where you feel comfortable.

Must haves when a baby is born: car seat, crib/bassient with several sets of sheets, diapers, clothes (don't buy a lot of small clothes as they grow fast), a monitor if your house warrants it, a pump if you are breastfeeding, or bottles and formula, also burp cloths.

A class was nice, especially for my husband, who had not read as much as I had.

Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

You're questions cover so many things. I'll respond to what I can.

1). Start looking now. Baby/pregnancy books will help with providing you with questions to ask although we found everyone follows state requirements which in Minnesota are quite good/reasonable in my opinion. Prices of in-home versus centers may dictate your decision too. The first time we looked for daycare 3 years ago, I signed up for the last spot available for the month I needed and that was 8 months early! The second time I needed to change daycares, I looked for 4 months and I started 8 months early again!

2) Absolute musts are a car seat (britax, graco, etc. all good), diapers, wipes, bouncy seat or swing, and some clothes. Beyond that, we could have made do! Our pack n play was helpful too. I had thought the crib bedding was so important when I got pregnant that was the first thing I bought - not realizing she didn't get out of our bed until 9 months old! Denise Fields and her husband wrote a book called Baby Bargains that goes through EVERYTHING you could need, don't need, what companies are good, safe, etc - I recommend it.

3). I'll ditto what the first response said. I highly recommend a doula - wish I had one for the first one - things could have gone a lot differently since M. and my husband had never gone through labor before and all the books will never really prepare a person for it - a birth coach would have been great. Your clinic will have classes or recommendations. Our Fairview hospital had good options for us. They usually recommend later in the pregnancy but with your travel...your doc might recommend otherwise. In Minneapolis a new pregnant yoga place opened a couple years ago called Blouma- with resources on doulas, birth, yoga, and other family support that I can't wait to try for the next pregnancy.

Best wishes!



answers from Minneapolis on

Agree about looking for daycare early especially if you plan on going back to work after 6-8 weeks.

Not sure where you live but if you are in the Woodbury area I highly recommend Stepping Stones Early Learning Center daycare. Qualities they have that not all daycares have are:

1) low child:teacher ratio from the infant program up through the preschool and kindergarden. Their infant ratio is 3:1.

2) Provide formula and diapers. Not always necessary but it does help with not having to haul all this stuff in when they run low on supplies.

3) Strollers for infants to bring them out when the weather warms up. Stepping Stones also has a screened in porch specifically for the infants to get fresh air when the temp is warm enough.

4) Quality food with onsite cook. This is important as your child grows. You don't want them feeding them canned food every day and only bananas for fruit. A variety of healthy lunch dishes (not just chicken nuggets and hotdogs), healthy snacks, lots of fruit and veggies, etc.

5) A structured education program. Most do have some structure but get a feel for what degrees the teachers have...are they highschool students or do they have a 4 year degree in education?

6) Of course ask about hours of operation, days the center are closed, etc. Ask how much "vacation" they allow if your child will be gone. Stepping Stones allows 1 week/year where the tuition can be deducted. Some offer more.

7)Get recommendations from others in your area. Talk to references. Go with your gut when you visit. I made the mistake of enrolling my daughter in a daycare (based on reputation of the national chain) when we first moved here without seeing the facility/teachers first. I pulled my daughter from the daycare within 2 days of her being there.

8) For infant rooms they should have a general schedule but should allow each child to be on his own schedule for naps, eating etc. Each child should have his own crib preferably away from the comotion of those that are awake.

9) Other things to look for...cleanliness. If you see a huge mess of toys usually means they aren't up to par on other sanitary issues. Look at the diaper station....are procedures written about washing hands, washing the station after use?

That's all I can think of for now. It's a lot but I would say visit at least 2-4 facilities before making a decision. Goodluck.



answers from Minneapolis on

I have a 1 year old so just went through this the past year.

1. Look for childcare options asap. I know it's overwhelming and you might even change your mind after the baby comes but get on wait lists. We were amazed at the long wait lists on some daycares. We ended up going the nanny route but felt good about a back-up option.

2. Highly recommend the book Baby Bargins. The book gives great reviews safety ratings etc. We used this in considering all the big purchases. For strollers I highly recommend a simple snap and go stroller that you can put the car seat right in. It's so much lighter in & out of car and easier when they're an infant. Also, the second hand stores in town like Once Upon Child have AMAZING finds for half the cost. They grow so quickly so it's completely worth it. Check them out before you register or buy a lot.

3. You can check class schedules through the hospital you'll deliver at. We took our classes earlier and thought they were really helpful. Most dads were at both child birthing and breastfeeding class.

Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

Not sure exactly what area you are in?

I am in the St. Paul area...

1.) Contact Resources for Child Care. You can order a list of licensed child care providers and customize your request by location, etc.

2.) You can figure out the big stuff easily enough (car seat, stroller, etc)...Just get the car seat earlier and get it installed ASAP and then run by your local fire dept and they will quality check your install. Also get an extra base if you have a 2nd car. What supplies will you want on hand in the first weeks/months? Diapers, more diapers, wipes, breast pump (get a good one), bottles, formula for emergencies, onsies onsies onsies, PJs and other comfy clothes (they really don't need elaborate outfits as newborns), bath tub (small-ish), baby bag, aquaphor, infant tylenol (probably will NOT need but good to have if needed), several sets of cribs sheets & liners, infant nail clipper, healthy/easy-to-prepare food for yourself, comfy but attractive PJs for yourself, music (CDs you have on hand will do), passy in case your baby needs one...The secret really is that babies need very little but you.

3.) I remember going to our birth classes in the last trimester (7 months)...I thought the classes weren't uber necessary. I am a book junkie and could've gotten what I needed that way instead of doing some vaguely embarassing exercises in front of a group of strangers. Never went to breast feeding classes and didn't experience any problems but most hospitals have lacatation consultants you can get tips from at the hospital and they will also do in-home visits.



answers from San Francisco on

Hi I'm a mother of 2 girls and another due on the 15th july, I was 20 when I had my first child, I am from Zimbabwe, Africa. I am Married some people wonder that LOL. Question 1:- from what I learnt when I had my second baby the first 9 months of your babies life is the bonding part it is important, Now I did not know that when I had my first born I learnt alot more with the second one. I was a working mom when my first baby was born and I tell you know I missed out on a lot of her developing I had to leave her from # months with my parents who lived 2 hours away from where i worked so i only got to see her over weekends. My advice on that is I wouldnt send her at that age, if you do ask to see medical certificates, make sure the place is clean and baby proof, I am a teacher myself for toddlers so I have been asked this. Question 2 Car chairs are very important just look for good quality Chicco is a brand we get here that goes with evrything you buy for your child. A plastic bath for a new born is better than a normal bath, look for a baby tender that has a built in bath so you are not leaning over you baby it is safer. Question 3 now I never ever went to any classes i believed that a mother knows what to do ie breastfeeding, birth classes trust M. you never use those breathing tecniques if you are comfortable going go ahead I never felt it nessary it is usually from 4 to 3 months before your due date. Please feel free to contact M. at any time on [email protected] I would love to be your friend. take care and the best of luck. N. from Zimbabwe. PS dont let people scare you about birth it is not as bad as you see it on televission. Take care and May God Bless you be with you through out all.



answers from Minneapolis on

Well I've had it all so hopefully some of this helps. I've had my kids in daycares, I've been a nanny, and now I run my own in-home daycare! So this is what I know. I never went to any of the expensive daycare centers! My 1st born (girl) was in home daycares and we didn't like the 1st 1 we had chosen so we took her out and put her into a different 1 and she loved it!! She just had so much fun, and the mom was so laid back and mellow and easy going! Just the best experience. Nannies are great too, only thing is children don't tend to get to experience learning at a young age especially being an only child right now. Things like, sharing, waiting and being patient for food etc, learning other things from the older kids, watching other kids' motions. Now I run an in-home and I love it! I care about all my kids so much, they become family. They all look forward to seeing the other kids and if someone isn't there they look forward to seeing their 'friends'. In the end it's personal preference. If you choose a in-home things to look for; how many kids (I have 7 but different days/times so not all at the same time) where their things are located, get to know the person! Are they laid back, but active with the children, do they get on the floor with them, do they seem anxious etc. And as always ask questions, no matter how silly. I've had a couple ask M. how much time their infant would spend in her car seat! I sort of laughed because no infant should be left in their car seat during the day! Good luck.



answers from Minneapolis on

Congratulations on the first baby! I have a 2 year old boy and am pregnant with my second one due March 1st.

I live in Woodbury and my 2 year old goes to St. Ambrose's Catholic Church's daycare part-time. I am really happy with this day care and it is also nice because a lot of our friends from church go there as well. If you belong to a church and they have a daycare, that would be a good place to start your search. A good tip would be to go visit a few daycare facilities before making a decision. Most places will take you to a tour and then give you a packet of information to take home that includes price, their hours, their philosophy and/or curriculum, etc. I did this before I decided St. Ambrose was the right place for us. The sooner you start your search the better, as some places have a waiting list (the best ones at least).

I am also a coordinator for an au pair agency and can give you information on that if you would be interested (I don't use an au pair right now because we live in a town home and don't have the space. Our place is on the market and if it sells we will get an au pair right away). Au pairs live with you and can provide up to 45 hours a week of in-home care and assist with other child related duties such as laundry, meals, light housecleaning, and driving. The cost is $330 per week and as you start your search you will find out it is more affordable than most daycare places. The best advantage of having an au pair when you have an infant though is that you don't have to worry about taking your baby out of the house everyday and exposing them to germs, diseases and things like that when they are so little and fragile. This is just one of the advantages of having someone caring for your baby in the comfort of your home and who will always be there when you need - day, night, weekends, holidays, snow days, sick days... Feel free to email or call M. if you would like to learn more about this [email protected] or ###-###-####

As far as shopping, what was really helpful for us was a book called Baby Bargains This books rates everything from clothes, to cribs, to strollers and car seats and gives great tips on how to get great products and still stay on budget. The hardest thing for us to decide on was the stroller just because there were so many options... We ended up going with the Zooper and we absolutely love it. We got ours online but saw it for the first time at Baby on Grand, on Grand Avenue This is a great store for you to visit too. They are a little pricey but a great store with a lot of cool things you won't see at Babies R Us and other super stores.

I took my birth and breastfeeding classes on my second trimester but most of the other people in the class were on their third trimester. It was a great experience and I really recommend it. Your pre-natal clinic should be able to give you some information on classes available at the hospital you are delivering. We also took a tour of the hospital, which was really helpful too.

Good Luck!!



answers from Minneapolis on

Yes; start looking for daycare now it can take over a year to get a child into a facility if they are a newborn or infant.

Hints for buying things. Yes you should buy your car seat, stroller and swing New. Really they are for true safety and I wouldn't go any other way.

As far as bouncy seats, exercausers, bath tubs, cribs, pack n plays, etc... why buy them new when you can get amazing hardly used ones for half the price used. Especially if you live in a big area. I am serious we are on our third child and you cannot tell the difference between new and a good well cared for used item. We just bought a $90 new travel pack n play for $30 and it look and acts brand spanking new!!! Spend more on the car seat, stroller and less on the others that are just as good used. Keep an eye out on craigslist, free-cycle consignment stores and more for used items.

Clothing: Consignment stores are amazing go when they have their big sales, you can get clothes that look new for half the price or can even get new clothes with the tags still on for cheap.

I never took any birthing classes, the process is natural. I will be finally taking a breastfeeding class with my third I wish I would have with my first two. Natural it may be but I seem to struggle with it too much and need to learn more.

Congrats on your new addition to be we must be due right around the same time! I have not signed up for classes I think my hospital needs M. to by the end of February to get in. Yours is probably on a similar schedule.



answers from Boston on

I don't have answers for everything, but a few comments

1. Where I live (Boston area) you want to start looking for care well in advance. For instance, if I were looking for a spot somewhere this September, I'd be starting to scout some places now (but things wouldn't get critical until late spring I think).

2. You might start by scouting out any sources of hand-M.-downs in your family/friends/neighborhood. I can tell that safety is a concern for you, but many of the products that you'll need don't have a lot of safety requirements and you could save some money that you could spend on higher-end products where it seems more important. We have used a maclaren stroller, but that won't work for a tiny infant, so I can't be of help there. I can recommend getting a baby carrier -- Ergo and Becco make good ones.

3. I'd check with local hospitals about birth classes, unless you are looking for something more alternative like hypnobirthing. In our area, there's Isis Maternity that provides lots of pre-baby education and there may be something similar in your area. I didn't do a breastfeeding class, but I did go to a couple of la leche league meetings with a friend just to get a sense of things. If it were M., I'd probably take a birthing class before leaving the country, just so you don't have too much craziness in the 8th month, when you'll probably be trying to wrangle all of your baby gear. I think a birth class is helpful so that you and your birth partner can have an idea of what to expect. I would also highly recommend considering a doula for the birth. It is very challenging to be the support person for a woman in labor, particularly if you've never had any experience in a delivery room -- it's pretty intense! It can be helpful to have someone there who can just focus on taking care of you and your partner.

Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

Congratulations! Here is a good resource for pregnancy and newborn resources in the Twin Cities:

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