Child Care Tips for Parents with Infants and Toddlers

Finding the right child care program for your family isn’t just important – it can be an intimidating or scary process. There are many things you should know before you go into the process that can make it easier, though.

When looking for a child care program, be sure to keep these tips in mind:

  1. Visit the child care program when it is open and children are there.
  2. Ask questions: bring along the checklist in this booklet to help you out.
  3. Make sure the child care program is licensed or registered with New York State and has enough teachers or staff for the number and ages of children that are present.
  4. Talk with parents whose children have attended the child care program. What are their thoughts? Ask them what their experience has been like.
  5. If you don’t feel comfortable, it’s not the right fit. There’s no shame in visiting a program and leaving because you don’t get a good vibe. Being comfortable leaving your child there each day is one of the most important aspects about choosing child care.
  6. Make sure the cost of the program is in your price range. If not, consider other programs or means of making child care more affordable.
  7. Don’t stop till you’re satisfied. It’s OK to visit multiple programs and call around until you find a child care program that is the perfect fit for you, your family, and – most importantly – your child.

Because you have an infant or toddler, you should definitely pay attention to these indicators in the child care program:

  • Babies are not disciplined, and are cared for with a comforting voice and gentle touch;
  • Toddlers are fed smaller portions, and mealtime is used for learning skills like self-feeding or using a fork;
  • The provider(s) understand that (1) toddlers are just beginning to talk and when upset may bite, hit, kick, or have a tantrum instead of using words, (2) do not know how to share toys, and (3) may get frustrated with an activity and need help finding something else to do;
  • The program has soft furniture and toys when toddlers need quiet space and time;
  • Children can be seen and heard during naptime, each child has their own napping space and materials, and infants sleep when needed and sleep on their backs;
  • Toys are safe and appropriate for infants and toddlers;
  • The provider(s) work with parents to help toddlers with toilet use; toileting accidents are handled calmly.

If you ever have any questions about what to look for in a child care program specific to infants and toddlers, contact your local Child Care Resource & Referral Agency. If you’re located in Buffalo/WNY, call Child Care Resource Network at 716-877-6666 or visit our website at http://www.wnychildren.org.

Information in this article was adapted from several resources from NYS OCFS. Learn more here: http://ocfs.ny.gov/main/cps/tips.asp