One of the toughest choices a new parent must make? Deciding when – and where – to place their child for daycare. Picking a daycare is a critical decision, as it will affect your child every day during the week.

And, as The Bump explains, children typically begin daycare while they’re in the midst of critical brain development. The right daycare can nurture them, teaching social skills, emotional skills, and general knowledge.

So you don’t want to place your child in just any daycare. You want to find a daycare that offers high standards of care, beneficial child development, and kind nurturing. And that isn’t an easy task.

If you’re struggling to find a daycare for your child, here’s your guide to narrowing down your options and determining which facilities are truly the best.

5 Steps to Choosing a Great Day Care Facility

Finding a fantastic, high-quality daycare isn’t easy. It’s a task that takes some time, research, and careful vetting. So, if you’re preparing to enroll your child, you’ll want to start your search early.

The key to choosing the right day care facility is to do your homework. You need to learn the ins and outs of each daycare you’re considering. Getting an in-depth understanding of each day care facility is the best way to determine which is the best choice for your little one.

Follow these five steps to begin narrowing down your options and selecting a daycare.

1. Research Different Day Care Centers

Your first step should be to search for and research different day care facilities in your area. You can get recommendations from your pediatrician, your friends and family, the local playground, or even mommy-and-me classes and groups. Or, you can easily search online for daycares in your city.

If you search online, make sure to take a look at different child care agencies and referral services. These groups and websites may be able to give you ratings and more in-depth information about a number of daycares.

2. Screen Your Options Over the Phone

Once you’ve collected a list of day care centers you’re interested in, you’ll want to talk to each one and learn more. And the easiest way to begin narrowing down the list is to call each daycare and screen them over the phone.

When you call each daycare facility, you can ask questions, get information about pricing and hours, and determine if it’s an option you’d like to look into further. You can also get a feel for how helpful and forthcoming the daycare’s staff are.

3. Take a Tour

To get a feel for each daycare and see how they work with children, you’ll want to schedule a tour at each facility. Once you’ve narrowed down your list, set up in-person visits at your top choices. 

During these tours, make sure to see the daycare in action. You’ll want to see what the facility offers and how the staff interact with – and educate – children of different ages. This should give you a feel for whether or not your child will thrive in that environment.

4. Read Reviews

Once your visit is complete, it’s time to read what other parents have to say. Most day care centers should offer a few references – but these will likely only be positive. You want to read real reviews from current and former clients.

Search online to find reviews about each daycare you’re considering. Read other parents’ pros and cons, and see if there’s anything you need to be concerned about. You can also get a firsthand report of what it’s like to send your child there regularly.

5. Plan a “Surprise” Visit

After making your scheduled visits, plan to drop in on your top choices unexpectedly for a surprise visit. When you show up for a tour, a daycare can put its best foot forward – all because they know you’re coming.

But when you drop by unexpectedly, you get a chance to see the daycare in its real, everyday habits. Stop by during the day without calling, and see how the daycare staff is doing. Are children well cared for? Do children and staff interact? Are there any hazards or aspects you’re worried about? What you see could be eye-opening.

Important Questions to Ask Your Daycare

When you’re in the process of screening and visiting different day care facilities in your search, it’s important to ask questions. Asking the right questions can help you understand how a day care operates. And it could offer valuable insight on how children are treated and cared for. 

Make sure you ask the following questions when you’re calling or touring your top daycare facilities:

  • What accreditation do you currently hold?
  • How many children are cared for at one time? How many babies, toddlers, or older children are present?
  • What is your childcare philosophy?
  • How do you discipline babies and toddlers?
  • What qualifications and experience do your facility’s caregivers have?

These questions should help you understand if a daycare is in line with your ideas on caring for your child.

Start Your Daycare Search Today

If you’re a new parent, searching for the right daycare isn’t easy. But with the tips and advice mentioned here, the process doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming. Finding the right day care center just takes time, research, and a lot of searching.

And the best place to begin your search is online. With an online search, you can easily find plenty of different day care facilities in your local area. You can easily view their websites, compare their information with other daycares, and even check out reviews and ratings from other parents. Searching online can get you started on the path to choosing the best daycare out there.