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Michelle Noehren's picture

Before our baby was born I received really good advice from a co-worker while I was only in my second trimester who suggested my husband and I should locate a child-care provider ASAP, well before the baby was due. It seemed crazy to me to have to start looking but we took her advice and I’m really glad we did.

With my big pregnant belly we went out to visit a few large daycare centers and two at-home daycare locations. We weren’t sure what we would prefer but as soon as I saw the infant room at one of the big daycare centers I knew it wasn’t for us. Personally, it seemed like a little baby factory. All the cribs were lined up one-by-one and the babies were all on the floor, just hanging out. My husband wanted to visit one more daycare center for comparison so I tried to be open-minded but after seeing the second option I still had a gut feeling that our baby would be better off in an at-home daycare setting.

We put the wheels in motion to locate an at-home provider and felt strongly that we wanted them to be licensed by the state. You should be able to find a list of licensed daycare providers on your state’s government website. We picked out two, based on their proximity to our house (we wanted someone nearby) and set up times to meet with them.

We really liked the first provider we met and thought we were going to choose her. She was really friendly, only had a few children to care for and seemed very accommodating. The only thing that we didn’t like was the location of the rooms the kids played in because they were in the windowless basement (when they weren’t outside playing). We still liked her and felt pretty confident that we would end up choosing her.

I felt like we should at least go see one more in-home provider just for comparison but I went into the visit pretty sold on the other location. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Right away we felt very comfortable with the second provider. She was warm, welcoming and we met her whole family (her husband and two teenage children). Instead of being limited to a basement, the kids at her daycare had reign of almost the entire house and she had a big yard for them to play in. We also liked that the area the babies napped in was away from the play area, so it was much quieter.

My husband was sold on choosing her the moment she said, “I don’t feed the kids french fries and chicken nuggets; I make them homemade soups and nutritious foods.” She was also very supportive of breastfeeding and her family seemed to live an active lifestyle, something we also value.

Another huge plus was that she would let us sign a contract that stated Lillian would begin daycare with her as of August 1, 2011 (so we had childcare locked in 3 months before our baby was even due). We left the visit 100% confident that choosing her was the best choice for our family.

I do want to add however that the one big downside to choosing an in-home daycare provider is that if they are sick or something comes up on their end you either have to take a day off from work or find someone else to care for your child. We’ve already run into this with our current daycare provider but for us we find the pros outweigh the cons.

Because of my personal experience, I strongly encourage other working women to follow the same advice: research, interview, choose and have a formal agreement with a daycare provider you trust well ahead of when you need them. You’ll feel a lot more confident heading back to work knowing you’ve left your baby with someone that will undoubtedly take great care of him/her.

How did you select your childcare provider?

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