The mother of a beautiful toddler recently expressed concern about her child’s behavior (which was normal and developmentally appropriate) at daycare. Upon questioning, the child’s classroom had 16 two year olds and 2 teachers, well above the AAP recommendations but well within state standards. Fortunately, I never had to face the daycare dilemma as grandparents and friends watched my children, but for countless families, daycare is the only option. So how do you choose a child care center?  Some questions to ask include:

  1. What are the daycare’s hours and their policy regarding late pick up, holidays, snow days?
  2. What is the cost daily-weekly-monthly?
  3. What are the qualifications of the staff? And are they certified in CPR, child development?
  4. How does the staff deal with discipline and is this consistent with the way you discipline your child?
  5. Are there policies and protocols in place and are these posted? Is the daily schedule posted?
  6. Can you visit your child at daycare?

Daycare is a safe affordable option that allows children to socialize and learn. But it should be structured around age appropriate needs. According to Marsha Weintraub, professor of psychology at Temple University, “Only 9% of daycares make the cut”.

Other things to consider:

  1. Look for an organized daycare-children feel safe when their day is structured and predictable.
  2. Know what the deal breaker is for you and your child?
  3. Look beyond professional terminology-let common sense be your guide. A state license is required-look beyond that.
  4. Get recommendations from people you know and trust.
  5. Look for teachers that have a clue about child development.
  6. During your visit, observe how the teachers and children interact. Are the children engaged? Do the teachers encourage creativity?
  7. What is the staff to child ratio? The AAP recommends that< 1yr           3:1 ratio               maximum 6 children13-30 mo  4:1 ratio               maximum 8 children

    31-35 mo  5:1 ratio               maximum 10 children

    3 yr. 7:1 ratio                         maximum 14 children

  1. Finally—TRUST YOUR GUT! If your “spidey sense” is tingling, DON’T IGNORE YOUR GUT FEELING!

There are lots of daycares with nice teachers and impressive toys and games—find the one that best fits the needs of you and your child.

For further information: National Association of Education for Young Children at 1-800-424-2460 or

Child Care Aware 1-800-424-2246 or