You just got the best news of your life- you’re expecting! Congrats! If you’re a working parent, you need to think about childcare, and soon.

Some of you may be lucky enough to have family, friends, or a flexible work schedule that will make this easy. If not, it’s time to shop schools.

I was recently told by a friend who was relocating to Denver that infant programs are waitlisting at 2 years. So apparently, even if you’re just thinking of having a baby, you need to pick out a school.

My office is within literal earshot of our newborn room and I probably drive the staff bananas because I’m in there pretty often. Who could resist holding a 6 week old new born? And that’s what you’re looking for- a staff that genuinely LOVES babies!

Trust me, I see it all the time. People apply for a job in a school with the mindset that it will be the easiest job they have ever had, and it can be….if you love it. Scope a few things out while you’re meeting the infant caregiver. You’ll be armed with a list of questions, but have your eye on these things:

  • What are the babies doing? Are they active? Having tummy time? Both are good signs. All babies in a crib- not so great.
  • Does the caregiver seem frustrated? Is she rattled when someone starts to cry? Trust me- you will be able to tell.
  • What is on the floor? Play mats, toys, and floor mirrors are all good signs.
  • What sort of feeling do you get when you walk in? Is it cozy? Inviting? What about sterile or institutional?

Shopping school is going to make you emotional. I see expecting moms cry at the mere thought of having to drop their baby off. This is why I recommend bringing back up with you. Is your partner an amazing judge of character? Or maybe your mom or best friend? Bring them along. They’ll notice things you missed when you were feeling overwhelmed.

I recently gave a tour of our newborn room to a mom who was due any day. A few days later she brought her husband in to view the school. She told me she loved all the answers and policies, but he was the “feelings guy” and she always goes with his gut. You need to find your “feelings guy” and let them tour with you.

Some other questions you may want to ask:

  • Teacher to baby ratio?
  • Are cribs shared and how often are the sheets washed?
  • Does the school allow nursing moms to stop in and feed their babies?
  • Can they store frozen breast milk?
  • Will they follow a schedule you provide or do they use their own?
  • How do they communicate about your child’s day?
  • How often do they move the babies from activity to activity? (It’s recommended babies get moved every 15 minutes.)
  • Do they prop bottles for newborns? (The answer should always be no. Bottle propping should only happen with older infants who are learning to hold a bottle.)
  • Are caregivers assigned specific children?
  • How often are diapers changed/checked?

This is a small list compared to some, but they are definitely worth asking. A good school won’t make you ask if the staff is trained in CPR/First Aid or FBI background checked. That info is usually offered as they tell you about their school, but if they don’t mention it, make sure you ask!

The first day is going to be tough….for you. Part of my job is to comfort moms who just dropped off their tiny baby with strangers.

Breathe. It will get easier. I promise. You’ll even grow to appreciate the person who is caring for your child in your place. You may even become friends.

Take tissues and lots of pictures of the big day. Call and check in as often as you feel like you need to.

In a few short months YOU will be the mommy recommending a great school to your friends and neighbors!

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