A mother’s duty might begin by simply choosing the perfect pregnancy kit but it gets even more hectic as time goes on. Choosing the perfect crèche or daycare centre for your baby that involves prioritizing your requirements, researching good crèches in your locality, being aware and observant are all important things a mother should do. An ideal crèche should be home away from home.
The first step you should take is to make a list of qualities you’re looking for in a childcare provider, such as experience, staff ratios, flexibility etc. Make sure to visit the childcare facility as often as you wish when there are children present. Doing this gives you an insight into the quality of childcare and the atmosphere there.
Make note of the following,
- A warm responsive interaction between the carers and the children. Do the children look happy and content? Your gut instinct in judging this is often the best – will your own child be happy there?
- A friendly, welcoming and safe environment.
- A good structure and routine to the day and good arrangements for mealtimes.
- Plenty of stimulating activities, toys and materials for the children that are appropriate to the age of your child.
- Opportunities to play outdoors as well as indoors.
- Transparent, well-established policies and open communication.
- A structured, child-centric and age-specific curriculum.
- Qualified, dedicated, and professional staff.
- Clean and safe facilities with a valid operating license.
WHAT KIND OF POLICIES SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR?
- A crèche should have clearly established policies for dealing with emergencies. By checking that these procedures are in place, you can see that the crèche or daycare centre takes the responsibility of caring for your child seriously.
- The crèche should also have a strict illness policy. Find out if they have basic first aid facilities at all times. Staff should be trained in basic first aid and there should be someone responsible, who can assess an emergency situation and take necessary action. They should also have a list of emergency numbers handy.
- The centre should also have a clear policy about handling sick staff and children.
QUALITIES TO LOOK FOR IN THE STAFF
Staff members should share your views on sleep, discipline, feeding and other care issues. Good caregivers will ask detailed questions about your child’s health. This may also help determine whether the crèche is right for you and your child.
Hygiene is an important factor to look out for in staff members. Look carefully and assess the cleanliness of the “ayahs” as they will be the ones who will be taking care of your child’s feeding and nappy changing.
Make sure the crèche has plenty of staff so that your child gets the attention and care that she needs. Ideally the smaller the group, the better the care. The child to staff ratio should preferably be:
- 3:1 for children under two years of age.
- 4:1 for children between two and three years of age.
- 8:1 for children between three and five years of age.
Apart from the teacher and “ayah” also, check out crèche’s policy on the support staff. Are the security guards, sweepers, cooks, drivers verified by the police?
DON’T FORGET TO CHECK THESE TOO
- The building should be suitably air-conditioned, lit and ventilated.
- Do check if the crèche has a supply of good clean running water. Make sure the drinking water is filtered?
- Are they equipped to handle the frequent power cuts? Do they have electricity backup services?
- Is the refrigerator clean and in working order? Remember your child’s medicines and food will be stored in the common refrigerator.
- Don’t forget to check the cots and bed linen. Make it a point to discuss what sleeping arrangements are being followed. Sometimes crèches make two or three children sleep in one cot. You must ensure that you state your expectations firmly and clearly.
- Check where your baby’s daycare bag and spare clothes are kept. Ideally, each child should have a separate locker or shelf with a name tag. Your baby’s bottle, sipper, clothes, diapers and toiletries must not be shared with another child.
- Make it a point to check your child’s bag every day. Good crèches will provide you with a checklist. They will also inform you when anything has been used or needs replacement.
- Lastly, find out about their policy on potty training. Often one hears about caregivers hitting or punishing young children if there are accidents or if the child is not ready to be potty trained. Ensure you speak to the manager, caregiver and a few parents to get a true picture. If their ideas don’t match with yours, it may be wise to look for another crèche that does not put your child under any undue pressure.
Check out the rest of our site for more pregnancy tips, the pregnancy test calculator and all the information a mother would need.