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How We Chose A Daycare Center For Our Toddler

By Beth Anne Ballance |

My shy toddler visiting “school” for the first time.

After I was offered a new six-month gig with a fantastic company, my husband and I decided that it was time to move Harrison to a daycare/school setting as opposed to continuing his care under a private nanny.  It wasn’t an easy decision by any means, as our nanny has done an incredible job for two years and she shares a sweet bond with Harrison.  However, we felt it was best for him socially and verbally to be in a center with structure and other children.

Last week, Harrison and I visited his new “school” every day for an hour or so, eating lunch and playing with the other children.  Since he had never been in that environment before, it was extremely important to me for him (and me!) to feel comfortable with the new digs.

Today was his first day and I am THRILLED to say that he received a glowing “report” from his teachers, participated in all but one activity, ate his lunch and even napped for 90 minutes.  Way to go, little buddy!  It even further validates my feelings that we picked the perfect daycare for him.

These were the “guidelines” we used to decide which daycare was best:

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How To Choose Daycare For Your Toddler

Who's in charge?

I visited centers where the owner was the director or the owner was never present and the director was frantic. We chose a school where both owners and directors are on campus during operating hours to handle any emergency or questions.

What influenced you to decide on childcare?

Related Posts:
Is Daycare “School?”

Choosing  Daycare Versus Nanny

To Preschool Or Not To Preschool

Beth Anne writes words & takes pictures on The Heir to Blair.
You can also find her on the Twitters & Facebook.

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About Beth Anne Ballance


Beth Anne Ballance

Beth Anne Ballance is a born and bred Southern Belle, blogging at okay, ba and using words and pictures to celebrate the challenges of motherhood and the joy of life. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter. Read bio and latest posts → Read Beth Anne's latest posts →

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8 thoughts on “How We Chose A Daycare Center For Our Toddler

  1. Diana says:

    Some of these I’ve never even thought of and…
    I worked at a daycare.
    How terrible is that?
    Granted, we aren’t using full time care (although I’m going to say I’m terribly jealous of Harrison painting to classical music – without having to clean up a mess after) but these are things I still need to ask.
    Good list and of course I’m in awe over your skills at finding centers this awesome.

    1. bethanne says:

      My favorite part of daycare is getting all the adorable artwork without any of the mess. Hello, cute fridge decor!

  2. Tracy @ Liberating Working Moms says:

    So glad this transition is going great!

  3. Tragic Sandwich says:

    I also relied on instinct. We looked at two–one that went through kindergarten, and one that stopped at the third birthday. They had very different approaches, and I liked things about each of them. But ultimately I went with the one that just plain felt like a better fit for our family. And it’s been a wonderful place for Baguette.

  4. Amy says:

    I agree that instinct is an important factor. We walked into one daycare and I honestly could have walked right back out without seeing a single thing. I have never been able to put my finger on what I didn’t like, but I knew that I couldn’t leave my child there.

    As for the daycare that we did choose, well, the owner spent more than an hour with us. She gave us a tour of the entire center and talked to us about their policies, procedures, curriculum, etc. The thing that sold it for me was when she handed me the phone number of the state licensing department. She told me to call them. She told me to request her inspections and see if anyone had filed any complaints against her. Then she said this “Of course we would love to care for your son, but if you decide to use another provider, I strongly encourage you to call the licensing agency to check up on whomever you choose. This is your child and you need to know that he will be well taken care of.” BAM. SOLD. Of course I called and of course I looked at other places, but when a place cares enough to tell you what to do to feel comfortable with ANY daycare, you stop and realize that might be the place for your children.

  5. Caitlin MidAtlantic says:

    Ha! When the initial day care center we lined up for our infant fell through the week before I was supposed to go back to work, we enrolled our daughter in the only place we could find that had an opening for an infant! We figured we’d try it out and could always pull her if we weren’t happy with her care. So when, as a 14 week old, she came home with her first art project I was sold. Any school with the patience and creativity to finger (er, foot) paint with infants was a school I wanted my child to be in!

    Laura is now in the 2′s room at the same day care. We’ve had our ups, downs, and moments of frustration. But our downs and frustrations have been almost entirely with the administration, and NEVER the teachers. The way I see it, Laura interacts the most with the teachers, so they are the most important factor for me. I have loved all the teachers and aides – so we’ll be sticking with this center for the forseeable future!

  6. Katie says:

    I went by my gut for my son’s daycare when he went, and I was happy with it overall. A couple of things I wanted to point out: 1) You might try not packing his lunch. I found that my kid ate the most surprising things at daycare. It turned out his pickiness was much stronger at home. While I had to bargain to get greens in my kid, I was shocked when his teachers told me he was a good eater and had eaten all his butter beans one day. Just a thought. Also, and this is no big deal, but 2) I mildly object to the crafty things only perfect moms do comment. The tone was a little off-putting. It sounded like, “I’m not going to do this crap, so I’m glad daycare does.” I’m sure that you do artsy craftsy stuff with your son, so I just wanted to point out that it sounded a little more antagonistic than I’m sure you meant it to. No big deal. Good post. I’m glad you’re happy with your son’s day care.

    1. bethanne says:

      Hey, Katie! We’re actually required to pack his lunch :) Our center doesn’t provide it!

      & the art thing, I’m glad you pointed that out because it’s so not what I meant! I just meant that while I do playdough & coloring & the occasional finger paint, I’m not likely to experiment with food coloring on coffee filters & that kind of thing that daycare does do. So it’s cool to see him bringing home different kinds of art that I personally wouldn’t do at home.

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