SELECTING A CHILD CARE PROVIDER – ENVIRONMENT FOR INFANT AND TODDLERS
It can be very difficult to entrust your precious infant or toddler to childcare for the first time.
To help you with the process, here are some things you should look for and questions to consider when choosing a program:
DOES THE PROGRAM HAVE WELL PLANNED SPACES TO SUPPORT YOUR INFANT'S DEVELOPMENT?
• Are there areas where my child can explore freely?
• Does it meet the state licensing requirements for enrollment of infants and toddlers in care at the same time?
• Does the space promote and support relationship building?
• Are there spaces where the provider can sit with your infant or toddler?
• What equipment is available for your baby?
• Toys: Are there a variety of toys such as, soft toys, soft books, rattles, toys that make sounds, toys with different textures, busy boxes, containers to put things in and dump out, stacking toys, simple puzzles, Large push and pull toys, balls, etc.?
• Where are medicines, cleaning materials, aerosols kept? Are they safely locked away?
• Are there Gates at top and bottom of stairs?
• Examine the crib, does the mattress fit tightly all around the crib?
• Is there a rocking chair or other furniture where provider can cuddle your baby while feeding him?
• Are there colorful pictures within the child’s sight?
• Does the space have areas to enhance the baby’s learning?
• Is the provider responsive to the children’s individual needs?
• Is the area organized to meet health and safety requirements?
• Where are the areas for eating, food preparation, sleeping, and diapering?
• Are they separate from play areas?
• Does the area have color, for example a brightly colored floor mat?
• How is the lighting, is it soft or glaring?
• What is the noise level? Is there the TV on and a lot of commotions?
• Is there child size furniture for your toddler?
IS THE SPACE SAFE?
• Is the floor clean?
• Is the space safe if your child falls?
• Does the area have several restrictive furniture such as highchairs, bouncy seats where your child may be put for a length of time? How often? And When and how often is your child allowed to extend their muscles to roll, scoot, and pull themselves up?
• Is the room cluttered or does it have clear pathways for the children?
• As your toddler begins to walk and pull himself up to standing position are the book shelves, toy bins, etc. sturdy and secure so they will not fall over.
ALONG WITH ASKING YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS, IF POSSIBLE SIT ON THE FLOOR IN THE CHILDCARE AREA. A BABY'S PERSPECTIVE IS MUCH DIFFERENT THAN AN ADULTS. ASK YOURSELF:
1. Is the floor cold?
2. Are plugs covered?
3. Are there any cords from lamps etc. hanging down where an infant can pull them?
4. Is the floor clean with no small objects the infant could put in his mouth?
5. If childcare environment is above the first floor, do all windows have child safety barriers?
6. If there are any posts, are they wrapped in soft material?
7. Are radiators covered?
8. Are there any walkers? Walkers should not be used for infants and toddlers.
9. Where are trash cans or rubbish container kept?
As a parent, you have an obligation to check out everything that will impact the growth and development of your infant or toddler. The child’s environment is a very important part of their development. Their health and safety is your priority. Equally important is evaluating if the environment offers opportunities for your baby to develop motor, social, language and cognitive skills through their play. Remember, it may be necessary to ask questions. Careful consideration of the above questions will help you to make a good decision