Several critical child development success factors are solidified during the first six to eight weeks of life, so having your bundle of joy at home for at least that amount of time is important.
But what about when you decide to return to work?
Regardless of when your child begins daycare, research has consistently shown its positive effects on reaching child development milestones, such as social skills, school readiness, communication, and confidence. With that said, you will need to choose a daycare that best meets your needs and the needs of your child.
While the decision to place your child in daycare is an easy one, actually getting them into a good facility is another thing. Daycare centers tend to always be at capacity, so it would do you well if you start looking for the right one even before you give birth. Keep reading to know when to start looking for daycare during pregnancy.
How Early Should You Start Looking for Daycare?
Selecting the right daycare for your child is an important decision that takes time. Many daycare centers have waitlists, especially the best ones with the highest ratings. So when should you start looking for a daycare? The earlier you start looking, the better.
According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), high-quality programs for infants use developmentally appropriate practices and have specific environmental elements to promote healthy development. Examining such elements takes time when narrowing down your daycare options.
If you’re wondering when to look for daycare when pregnant, consider these four questions before beginning your search.
3 Key Questions to Answer When Deciding When to Enroll
Preparing for the arrival of your baby takes a great deal of work. These are three questions to consider when beginning your search for quality daycare.
1. When are you returning to work?
Maternity leave is typically six to eight weeks, but some families have the flexibility to be home with their baby for much longer. Your situation will be unique depending on your employer’s internal policies and your eligibility under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Determining when you will return to work has a large influence on when your infant will begin daycare. Talk to your employer early in your pregnancy — typically after the second trimester begins — and select a one- to two-week window to provide flexibility for unexpected challenges.
2. How does your due date align with daycare enrollment?
Your due date and your planned time at home prior to returning to work should be the first factors to consider.
Some daycare centers have hard enrollment deadlines, while others have rolling deadlines. Knowing all of these dates and time frames ahead of time will help you be better prepared for a smooth transition for you and your child.
3. Do you have other kids that are in daycare?
Location, location, location. If you have other kids in daycare and are happy with that service, continuing with the same provider is ideal.
If this is your first child, consider the location of your work and the proximity of a daycare center to your work and home. Even something as small as traffic patterns in your city is worth considering when choosing a daycare.
What to Look for in a Quality Daycare Provider
When you finally have your options narrowed down to two or three daycares based on timing, location, and enrollment deadlines, what should you look for when you finally visit each daycare center? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes important developmental milestones during the first year.
To ensure these milestones are met, look for:
- A soothing, low-lit environment
- Defined areas for different activities
- Secure, open spaces inside and outside
- Developmentally and age-appropriate toys
- Child-size furniture
- Small physical challenges for coordination development
- Diverse books
Be sure to look at more than just the infant program because it’s best to keep as much consistency in your child’s life as possible. Most infant care centers also have preschool programs, so the responsibility of choosing a quality daycare extends to choosing a preschool.
Many more benefits of daycare can be identified and observed during your visits, so have an extensive list of what to look for and questions to ask.
Give Your Little One a Great Start With Cadence Education
While the benefits of daycare are undeniable, not all facilities are created equal. That’s why it’s important to find the best daycare for your child.
At Cadence Education, we strive for excellence and are committed to providing an unparalleled level of quality childcare and early education — and have done so for the last 20 years. We pride ourselves in offering an engaging curriculum customized to each child’s needs in a safe and stimulating environment — all while providing the comforts of home.
With an emphasis on the social development of our entire community, we strive to support your child’s growth in every stage of development, every step of the way. Find a Cadence facility near you to enjoy the benefits of daycare for your entire family as you grow together and watch your child thrive.