Questions to Ask a Possible In-home Care Provider for an Infant

Updated on June 10, 2012
J.M. asks from Seattle, WA
11 answers

I am starting to look for a liscensed in-home care provider for my infant son. He'll be 9 months when I go back to work. What questions would you ask someone you were interviewing for this position?

Here are some questions I have come up with:

Can you describe a typical day for a baby in your care?
How many children will you have in your care at once? What ages?
How do you keep track of and communicate what the baby has eaten, had to drink, how many diaper changes, etc.?
Where will the baby be during the day? In someone's arms? On the floor? In a exersaucer?
How do you sooth babies if they're upset when their parent leaves?

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answers from Charlotte on

How does she work naptime with the different ages in her charge?

Good luck finding that special lady!


1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Los Angeles on

1. What are your policies about bringing a sick baby to daycare? Is it only until he is fever free for 24 hours, or do I have to keep him home with other symptoms as well? What if he gets sick (vomits) while he's in your care?

2. Ask questions about the provider's time off:
a. holidays
b. vacation
c. sick
d. emergencies
How often/what days does she take? Is backup care available?

3. What happens if you need to drop off early or pick up late? What are the extra charges?

4. If you are taking a vacation, do you still pay for the time that you're not sending your baby? How long can you go away for without losing your spot?

5. When your baby is older and starting school, can you come on a part time schedule?

6. Do they provide any snacks, meals, or drinks, or do you have to provide everything yourself?

7. Do they spend any time outside?

8. Can you leave a change of clothes there or do you need to bring it with you every day?

9. Where will the baby nap? What do you need to provide for naptime?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Certainly ask questions, but a good seasoned child care provider should offer you all of this information and when she/he is done you will have a good feel about their operations. You may still have a few questions after that, but it shouldn't be a whole list.

I interviewed 3 daycare facilities and picked what I felt was the best. It lasted 1 month. I took my daughter out and put her in an in home day care (not part of my original interview) and it lasted 13 wonderful months.

*Edit* don't ask if she has been arrested, what a way to start off a relationship. Make sure she is licensed.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

How often are the toys cleaned and sanitized? (VERY important!) and HOW are they sanitized? I used my dishwasher and now use vinegar (less chemicals)
Do you feed on demand? What is the schedule like? Sick policy? Do you CIO or cuddle?
A good in-home will note every feeding/changing (b/m or urine)/falls/etc. I kept notes ALL day at that age group.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I think it is important to gauge how open they are to conforming to your parenting choices. Their "normal" may be different from what you would like. That can be fine, if they are willing to follow your rules for your child. For example, my kids are vegetarian and I am not flexible on that at all. I needed to be very comfortable that my care provider understood that this was very important to me and that my kids are never, ever to eat even a tiny taste of meat or something that touched meat while in her care. She can think I am nuts for that choice, she just needs to respect my choice. Similarly, her "normal" may be CIO, but she may be open to holding and cuddling, particularly if you offer to supply a sling or other carrier.
I agree on a lot of the "technical" questions below- when is payment expected, how many paid holidays, sick policies, etc, just so everything is clear up front. Get it in writing :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dover on

Those are good questions but some others should include things of a business nature too...hours, policy on sick days (provider and child), scheduled closings and vacation, payment etc. You also want to think ahead, he'll be 9 months when he goes so he will already have a routine w/ you, what routine will she be implementing there (the one he already has or her own). If he's not the only child in her care, it will most likely be her schedule so you need to know that so you can know how to adjust yours at home...not that they need to be the exact same but if he just woke from nap before you pick him up, you may have trouble getting him to bed if you typically put hm down early. What is her policy once he hits a year (bottle weaning and diet)? Those sort of things.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

All of the questions below, and your own list are par for the course.

When I have interviews with parents I really answer most of these as we quickly roll through my policy book that I let them take with to go over more thoroughly. Hours, sick policies, vacation, pay, bereavement time off, non parent pick ups, what parents provide, what I provide, who lives in my home and might be here, who is background checked here, info about my sub I use 8 hous a month, my pets and their updated rabies shots.

Then I cover daily stuff like bottles and nukes ( I provide my own supply once they tell me what kind is used), ask about breast milk, and tell them if formula is used I offer only one brand as per food program regulations so they have to bri g any others is that is their route. I tell them I make home made baby foods, but buy the cereal used.

A new topic parents ask about in recent years is immunization policies I adhere to. Do I take non immunized children. I do not and I share with families why I do not.

This is about the time parents and I discuss any other potential special lifestyles and diets like planned vegetarian diets, etc. Some of these would not make us compatible to work together in the future. Also an older child with allergies to pets as I have cats, and I am not willing to take the risk with already established severe food allergies such as nuts. All of this needs a lot of discussions.

Then we tour. And discuss my small home. Play areas, sleep areas, toileting and diaper changing areas. The backyard if it is not dark out.

Most parents describe later to me a comfortable gut feeling from the first interview. So listen to your gut!

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

Do you put babies to sleep on their backs?

Is your license displayed?

Do you fill out a daily report of BM/eating/activities?

Do you have tummy time?

Do you offer juice?

Do you allow me(you) to bring in breast milk?

What brand formula do you use?

What developmental milestones do you work towards (self feeding, sitting, walking, talking, etc)?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cumberland on

Have you ever been arrested?



answers from Anchorage on

Well if I didn't absolutely HAVE to, I would not leave a 9 month old baby with any 'babysitter' all day every day - with a total stranger. I don't want to scare you, but in the world we live in today, people out there can slip through the cracks and you could have some abusive individual or who knows what in your home. If you are going to do this, I would advise going online and buying some hidden video cameras, but them around the house in various locations and keep tabs on what is going on while you are not there. Better to be safe then sorry..... your 9 month old cannot speak up and say if there is a problem, but your cameras can.



answers from Portland on

I would ask some questions like:

How do you usually go about preparing breastmilk bottles (if you are BF/pumping.... some caregivers are very conscientious about milk handling, some aren't).

What sort of snacks/food do you provide for the child/do I need to bring my own?

Are you using the USDA foods program?

How many times do you serve juice to the children during the day?

How do you childproof your home so that little ones are safe?

What do you do to ensure the children's safety if you have to go out of the room?

How do you go about establishing a relationship with new children in your care at this age? (Does she/he wear the babies, pick them up, talk to them?)

Do you ever 'wear' any of the babies in a pack? ( I actually recently turned down a job because my back is pretty worn out from years of working with little ones and that baby in particular likes being in the pack.)

Do you use Bumbo or infant seats? If so, where do you put them? (Always on the floor.)

Do the children have an area to play outdoors? Is there shade? How often do they go out each day in reasonable weather? (look less for play structures and more for safety.)

Do you use the television or video games to keep older children busy? (Remember, the AAP suggests no screen time for kids under 2. Some in-home providers will have the tv on a lot because they are understaffed for the amount of kids they have in their care.)

Are there any other infants/toddlers in the program?

Why did you decide to start this business? (Always a revealing question)

Do you have pets? If so, is their food/litter kept in a separate area from where the children play?

Who lives and stays in the house with the caregiver? You want to know....

Do her friends 'drop by' during hours of care?

((Other posters have covered the more business-like questions regarding days off, sick policy, etc. so I won't repeat that.))

I would also ask for her background in childcare, books she recommends on child development, what sort of philosophies she draws from. You do want a caregiver who has a reasonable amount of child development knowledge; personally, if someone's not even interested in picking up a few books on the subject, I would not leave my child in their care on a regular basis.

Ask for at least three references, letters or people who presently have their kids in care who would be willing to speak with you.

I'd also ask to arrange a time to come and observe, first (if possible) without your child, and then, with. Stay for about 40 minutes or so each time. Watch how the caregiver responds to the children. Things to look for:

Does she seem short with them or patient?

Is she doing housework while the kids are present or is she actively engaged with them? (I found that multiple kids do not allow for a lot of housework time.)

Is the environment clean, are the toys clean, are they in good repair or broken?

Where do diaper changes take place?

What happens to toys that babies or toddler have in their mouths? (They should go in a bin to be sanitized before being reintroduced to the children.)

Is the home daycare environment calm, or boisterous? Is the music appropriate for little ones, both in content and in tone? (mellow is better, from my experience.)

How are discipline issues handled with youngsters? Are the little ones being made to follow the same 'rules' as the big ones? (Infants and young toddlers should be getting distraction/redirection guidance as opposed to time out.)

Ask about the other kids in care-- does she speak well of the children and their families? Does she share too much? If she's not confidential regarding other people's family situations/children, she will not be confidential with yours.

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