Most Important in Infant Daycare

Updated on February 19, 2013
M.G. asks from Olathe, KS
19 answers

What do you consider the most important factors when looking for in-home childcare for your infant?

Clean environment, safety, loving caregiver, daily schedule, etc?




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answers from Norfolk on

When my son was brand new, there was a news report about two 6 month olds in a home day care who suffocated from being put to nap on a bed with pillows around them so they would not fall off.
The day care woman was planning a birthday party for her own kids and thought it would be a quiet place for them to nap, but the babies pulled the pillows onto their faces and died.
As a new mother - I just could not deal with it.
I felt a commercial day care might not be like home, but with people coming and going all day long and multiple care givers looking after the babies - there would be a better chance that infants would be handled safely and be kept alive till I could pick him up at the end of my work day - that was my highest priority.
With multiple care givers - they can take a break every so often and are less likely to lose it if they have a colicky infant to care for.
(Also, the commercial daycare we used had a fire department and EMT's right across the street - which really made me feel better.)
Now there are plenty of home day cares that are absolutely fine and wonderful but it was just not something I felt I could trust.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I am an inhome daycare provider.

Consistently, my parents prefer knowing their child is allowed to follow their own schedule, adapting daily as needed.

They want to see appropriate toys & equipment.

They want to see me modeling appropriate behavior for the other children.

& they want a clean, safe environment based in a "homey" atmosphere. Otherwise, they'd be a institutionalized daycare with state funding & a director with a degree.

been doing this for years now, & this is consistently what I'm seeing. I have had only 2 families not start with me. One Mom was shocked that I would "dare" to interview her! She saw my list of questions & just freaked! & the other family was going thru a flux time of employment...& just wasn't ready to commit. Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I probably would never use in home because they get left alone too much. In regular child care a teacher is never allowed to leave the kids unattended even to go to the bathroom. They must call for a teacher to come watch their class while they take a break. So the kids are never ever alone for any reason.

In home care situations they can even go and take a shower while the kids are there. They have to go cook meals, go to the bathroom, talk to any parents that come in, give their attention to other kids even if your child is crying, they cannot divide their time between so many different ages very well. They do a good job, not saying they don't, it's just I have over 13 years in child care and have even owned my own center with over 50 kids enrolled and I know the ins and outs of caring for groups of kids.

It's their home and the regulations are way less restrictive. So I would never use that sort of care for the kids. I prefer a center where there are lots of checks and balances and extra people to help out when there is a need.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I have to be honest and say that we would never consider an in-home daycare for one reason alone: safety! I just never felt it was a safe option for DD.

At a center (at least the ones that we have used) every employee is background checked, you have to get past a locked door to enter, everyone must check in and non-parent visitors are always accompanied by an employee. If your child goes to someone's home you have no control over who comes and goes.
Another factor in safety is checks and balances. When there is more than on employee, supervision and procedures in place there is just less of a chance of something going wrong, someone loosing it and hurting your child or applying misguided discipline. People can take a break before they reach their limits and do not need to leave the kids alone to do so.
Also for simple things like going to the bathroom or taking a lunch break a center employee can step away and they will have a floater fill in and they maintain ratio (1:4 in my state for infants) at all times, never leaving the babies alone.
Last but not least the centers are equipped with all kinds of things to react to pretty much any kind of emergency from fire to an earthquake, they practice emergency procedures regularly, they have special cribs that allow them to evacuate infants safely and so on.

I think an in home provider would have quite an uphill battle to convince me that they can provide a truly safe environment for my baby, safety that goes beyond installing a few baby gates and latches.

The one additional thing that you did not mention is reliability. Which was our other huge factor in deciding against home daycare. I had to take so many days off when my DD was little because she was sick, I really could not have afforded any additional time off for a provider that is ill or has an ill child.

I know of a few people who have wonderful home care providers and all of them pretty much have one thing in common: it is not a "commercial" home day care, but the provider cares pretty much for one or two children in addition to their own. That seems to be working out pretty well and would be something I would consider if I ever needed infant care again - but I would still be apprehensive about safety and they would have to come highly recommended.
Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

my biggest trigger is that she loves the kids as her own. obviously, some common sense and knowing HOW to take care of infants is necessary. but if she loves them as her own, i know i can trust her.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

All of the above. You can also look at online articles for more guidelines.

One thing I will suggest is to trust your gut. I viewed an in-home center, a big county-run center and a church run place that was somewhere in the middle. I could not make myself love the first two places. The first one looked run down and the TV was always on. The second one was too sterile and very rigid for an infant. They provided 2 kinds of formula and if you did not use those, you were basically paying for someone else's food. You got no discount. I loved the church center. It was in a wing to itself, very comfortable, very warm and open. The only reason we left was I started a different job. DH and I both tried to like the in-home one because it was close by our house, but in the end we just couldn't.

Think about what you want for your baby and find a place that fits that bill, regardless of what kind of care it is. I chose a center because I needed the assurance that someone would be there for my kid, even if #1 teacher was out. I only had to deal with my own or DD's sick days, weather closings and holidays.

And also ask around. My coworkers told me about the place we ultimately chose but also warned me about 2 others. They had problems with the center not keeping their DD clean enough (she'd come home with food stuck to her face or a messy diaper at the end of the day) or with things going missing. Ask friends for both kinds of recommendations.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sioux City on

I like to have a schedule of what my baby did and the time they did it. So at what time of day did they wet, feed, poop, and nap.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

As a care provider and having had my own kids in daycare, I can tell you what I provide and what I wanted for my own. A provider with a similar parenting/caregiver style; meaning if I didn't want to have my baby cry it out at 4 months old, I wanted them to work with me on that. I wanted someone who was not so overwhelmed with other kids that they didn't have time to hold my baby and give the kind of attention that she needed, and when he/she was busy with other kids, I wanted mine included. I didn't want her in a pack and play someplace by herself while the other kids played with playdoh or whatever. The stimulation of watching can be valuable to infants even if they can't participate.

Safety and cleanliness was/is always a big one. If there are so many kinds in a caregiving environment that the caregiver can't ensure safety or if they don't have the system for caring for mixed ages, then there are too many kids.

As schedule is important especially to infants, however, gas pains, teething, over tired, illness all are factors that get in the way of a strict schedule. Sometimes the schedule has to be modified to meet the individual needs of the child.

Loving caregiver goes without saying. You can tell a person that is working because they love kids and one whois doing it because it's just what they've been doing to x number of years. Burn-out is high and common in childcare because it takes love and patience all day everyday, and besides the actual hands on care you give there are a multitude of other things to be successful at it... cleaning, meal planning, art/craft/activity planning etc...

Good luck! It's not easy to find a good care provider by they are out there! Go with your gut and look a many before you make a choice.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

The most important factor is the obvious:
The Provider.
That is the most important deciding factor.

How she is, how she handles children, how she speaks, how "professional" she is or not, how she handles the parents etc. Her general vibes.

Anyone can have a clean place, a daily schedule and it being safe and "loving." But the bottom line is: how the parents feel about you and if they trust you and what your home/yard looks like etc.

It is you, the Provider, that will be the reason a parent chooses you or not.

As a Provider, you should have, references.
And word of mouth, ALSO plays a big factor in any referrals you may get or not.

I used to do childcare when my daughter was younger.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

loving caregiver hands down.

babies do not need a schedule.. it is nice but they do need someone who is attentive and treats them as wonderful human beings. interacts with them all the time when they are awake.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

When i went back to work part time when my daughter was 4 months old. I put her in the care of my sister in law. Eventhough i know she was loved my daughter was miserable! She cried for hours and to this day we still dont understand. I found ms kathy on craigslist and she was amazing!! The first time i met her she made me feel comfortable. She listened to me about my wants and my daughters needs. My office was a 2 blocks away and i would come up to nurse. She even carried her around in a front pack for about 3 weeks till she was 100% comfortable. Her house was not sparkling clean and the kids came home dirty from playing outside but my daughter was so happy! She was there for 2 years and only moved her because i changed companies and locations. Follow your gut and listen to your baby.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

It's more than just what you mentioned, M., it's how I "connected" with you at the interview.

You will be caring for my child, you will be with my child for more hours than I will - so are we on the same page with naps, feeding, etc? is it my schedule or YOUR schedule?

Certifications in CPR, choking, first aid?
Emergency plan - Kansas is the heart of Tornado Alley - what is your plan should a tornado strike?
How many people help you? Have they had a background investigation?
How many infants are you caring for other than mine?
How will you handle naps and bedding? What about feeding?

Cleanliness is a given. I don't expect perfect - but I want to know how you clean the toys - and how often...carpets or hardwood floors? How do you clean them? There are people who are VERY concerned about the chemical use and what the residual fumes can do to children.

How do you handle sick days - if YOU are sick?
How do you handle sick days if my child becomes sick while in your care?

Do you have a nanny cam? Will I be able to "peek" in on you during the day?

I hope you are able to build your day care center!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Truthfully, you can have your cake and eat it too by hiring a provider who does all of these things. You don't let go of one just to have another.

I chose a small church run daycare because there were two caregivers to 8 infants and a director whose office was right beside the room, with an open window between the infant room and her office. These wonderful ladies scheduled the babies together which helped my baby and helped me a great deal as a working mom. The ladies provided tummy time, held the babies, focused SOLELY on the babies and not on cleaning house or talking on the phone or anything else. AND they didn't have toddlers or older children along with the babies.

They wrote down when my baby wet, pooped, ate, slept, etc. They were my other mommies, and I still, years later, think the world of them. I got lucky, but I also had high standards. Having high standards goes a long way towards getting you the right fit for you and your baby.




answers from San Francisco on

#1 Gut feeling with provider--are they loving, kind, calm, sensitive to baby's needs/cues?

#2 Full background check, fingerprinting, TB testing, arrest and driving record etc. ALL info you can get on this person, their family etc.

#3 How does your baby respond to them. Are they comfortable? Do you feel safe leaving them?

I would be sure of the provider and his/her service record, check as many references as you can, talk to people who have left her care too. If any red flags come up, listen to your gut and find someone else. Good luck!



answers from Pittsburgh on

ALL of the above. I assume by daily schedule you mean the provider is there reliably, not that an infant gets a nap at the same time each day. My son lived on his own schedule for his first year - he ate when he was hungry and slept when he was tired. I would NEVER have looked at a daycare that wanted to put him down at their convenience. I never considered home daycare for my son. I only looked at centers and was very happy with the one we chose.



answers from New York on

ALL OF THEM!! And mostly the gut feeling you get when you do a tour. If something doesn't feel right don't talk yourself into a place. Make sure they are within ratio, not overcrowded. Daily schedule isn't much of an issue because infants are all on different schedules, so I wouldn't focus too much on that until the child is older. The ratio for infants up to 18 months in NJ is 1 caregiver to 4 infants. Also, pop in unannounced, see how things look without a planned tour. There are plenty of good centers out there. Good luck!!



answers from St. Louis on

To be honest, I would never use an in-home daycare again. I had one for my oldest son when he was just a baby. I LOVED her! She was very good with him and I thought took really good care of him. One day I dropped in unannounced to pick him up and she was cleaning her house--not even in the same room with the kids! Plus, she started to take on too many kids. How can one person look after so many kids at once? I've read too many news stories about babies suffocating in in-home provider's homes. Scary! I moved my son to a church daycare and just absolutely adored it! My youngest son now goes there and is thriving! They are a nice option in the middle. They're not state run, however, they definitely have checks and balances and aren't as big and expensive as a sterile institution type of daycare chain. HOWEVER, if you just have to go with in-home due to cost, I would try to find a place that has a partner. Someone who does it in-home, but also has someone else helping. I would also make sure there is a safe place for each child to nap that is appropriate for their age--cribs/pack n plays for babies, cots/beds for older children. I would also make sure they're aware of placing babies on their back to sleep and to never put them to sleep with any sort of bedding in their crib. I did interview several in-home daycares and this was always a necessity for us. Good luck in your decision!


answers from Tulsa on

For me, the most important factor was the attitude of the caregiver. Was this something they enjoyed doing? Do they interact well with children? I would not trust an infant with someone who viewed it as strictly a job. Safety/cleanliness is next and schedule is the least important. For an infant, they pretty much set the schedule for the first few months and adapt well later, so that didn't concern me at all.


answers from Rochester on

I don't think there's any reason why someone should have to consider one of these qualities more important than another, or compromise on any of them.

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