Aside from sleepless nights and endless diapers, finding a quality, trustworthy day care can be one of the hardest aspects of early parenting. Whether you are planning ahead for your little one’s arrival, trying to find something before you head back from maternity leave, or have recently moved to a new area, finding appropriate day care in Austin, TX is not a decision to be taken lightly!
“Daycare poses no risk for children, provided that it is high quality…. Poor quality day care is risky for children everywhere.. .. The cost of poor-quality day care is measured in children’s lives. High-quality day care costs only money.” — Sandra Scarr
If you are staring at your screen in a puddle of anxiety wondering where to begin in finding the best early childhood day care in Austin, Texas, have no fear! We have compiled all the information you need to make your decision! So, cozy up, grab your favorite beverage, and sink into the information you need to make the best choice for your family.
Where Do I Start Looking for Good Child Care?
There are several factors that will help you determine which day care is best for your kiddo. Don’t worry, we will compile it in a neat orderly fashion so you don’t get overwhelmed! This info will also provide you with some questions to ask the centers when you are doing your inquiries!
Word Of Mouth
Before you start Googling “best day care in Austin, TX,” check in with your friends and family and see what they have found in their childcare search! Sometimes, the praises and recommendations you get from those you trust can be worth one hundred 5-star reviews! Also, ask your pediatrician if they have any recommendations or favorite centers in the area. You can pretty much guarantee the people you know, love, and trust will give quality options! Seriously though, doing your research is the most important part of choosing the best center.
Types Of Daycare Facilities
In-home day care: In-home day cares are, you guessed it, run out of the provider’s home. Keep in mind that this is usually while the caregiver watches over her own children as well. There are some rules and regulations that in-home centers have to abide by, so when doing your research, you will want to ensure those are all being followed!
Group day care: Group Day cares in Austin are run out of state-licensed facilities and are run pretty similar to a school. You can expect a more structured approach with children cared for in groups of similar ages in a group day care.
Benefits To Day Care
Enrolling your baby in a great day care program has some awesome advantages:
Reliability: Most day care facilities are open for around 12 hours which accommodates most work schedules.
Socialization: You can be sure that your baby or little one is getting loads of interactions with other adults and kiddos, which benefits their social skills.
Cost: Day care tends to be less expensive than hiring a nanny to care for one child if you are planning on going back to work after your baby arrives. Although, if you have multiple children, hiring a nanny may be more cost-effective.
Continuous Care: Having continuous care from early infancy through toddlerhood (and sometimes more than that) can be a huge benefit to your child and you!
Downsides To Day Care
As with everything in life, there are some downsides to child care outside the home that you may want to consider:
Exposure To Illnesses: It’s pretty much an unfortunate law of nature. When babies and little ones are exposed to more kids, they are then exposed to more germs which can cause them to be sick more often than children in other care settings. Although, early germ exposure may actually toughen up the immune system and prepare them for all of the germs in preschool when they are older!
Cost: Day care centers are typically less expensive than private child care, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t pricey! Unless they are subsidized by the government or your place of work, you can expect to pay a pretty penny for quality care.
Group Day Care: You may have less flexibility in scheduling when it comes to group day cares. Especially if they follow a school calendar, you can expect to have to take off work for holiday breaks.
Home Day Care: Some providers do not require a license to operate. This means there are no regular inspections to make sure everything is being regulated as it should. They may not abide by the appropriate group size, child-to-caregiver ratios, or activities and materials.
There are several different features you will want to check on when searching for the right Austin preschool. After you have done your research and narrowed down where you would like to visit, here’s a list of 5 things you will want to consider.
1. Are there happy children and staff?
When you are visiting day cares you will want to look for happy and clean kiddos and babies in spacious rooms with plenty of space to play. Separate quiet areas where they can nap peacefully in their own cribs are perfect so you can ensure your baby is able to stick to their own sleep schedule.
Take note of the caregivers and staff to see if they are genuinely energetic, patient, and interested in the kids. A helpful hint is to visit towards the end of the day so you can get a more accurate picture of what the temperament is. Seeing staff and caregivers on their phones or ignoring the kids is a big no-no.
2. Is The Environment Stimulating?
You will want to observe the toys to ensure they seem age-appropriate, clean, and in good shape. What is their daily routine/schedule like? A daily rundown of activities that include lots of singing, reading, dancing, and imaginative play are musts!
Look for lots of interactions between the caregivers and children. Are the adults engaging with the kids by talking with them or playing on the floor with them? If you notice unengaged staff and kiddos who are just kind of zoned out, that should send up a red flag.
3. Are The Age Groups Appropriately Separated?
Children 12 months and under should be kept separate from bigger toddlers and older children. Accidents can happen so quickly between tots and babies because they are not able to understand how to play appropriately with the tinies, which is why it’s so important they are in their own groups.
4. A Clean and Healthy Space
A tell-tale sign of a well-run day care center in Austin is if they have their sanitation practices spelled out on a sign, and then actually follow them. You want to see rules like the following:
Caregivers wash hands after each diaper change
Feeding utensils are washed in a dishwasher or are disposable
Bottles are prepared under sanitary conditions
Teething rings, pacifiers, and washcloths shouldn’t be shared
Toys are rinsed off with a sanitizing solution or each child has their own box
Naptime blankets are sent home weekly to be washed
5. Safety Measures
Make sure that the early childhood center provides a safe environment by maintaining the same safety measures you do at home. There should be:
No choking hazards such as small toys or pieces that could be swallowed
No pillows or fluffy bedding in the cribs and ensure they use the “back is best” sleep approach
Open stairways should be gated off
Clean and tidy bathroom and kitchen area where nothing dangerous is left out
While not exactly necessary, it would be ideal to have an enclosed outdoor area to play
Having clear floors that are not completely bogged down with toys
Smoke detectors clearly marked exits and fire extinguishers
We hope that if you are planning on placing your baby in daycare that you have found this information to be helpful! If you have read through this and decided that this is too much and you just want to stay home with your baby then you are not alone! But, if you are ready to head back to the workforce after maternity then you will be joining the other 70% of primary caregivers who work daily and seek outside child care for their children.
Remember that one of the best child care options is a reliable day care, whether home-based or a group center, that is able to provide consistent care, interactive staff and early social interactions.