Consider the location of the childcare center. Will it be more convenient nearer home or your place of work?
Consider the time it takes you to get there and how you would get there.
Talk to other parents using facilities locally to you and find out their experiences.
Read government reports to see if the standards meet your requirements or check out parenting communities to see what local parents think.
Make a shortlist of places and try to view as many of them as possible.
Consider taking your child on these visits too if you can.
Observe your child’s reactions to the staff, setting, and other children.
Consider if the other children seem settled and happy.
Consider if the staff are attentive to the children and to each other.
Ask what activities your child might be involved in during the day.
Ask if the childcare center keeps records of the children’s progression. Could they show you an example?
Ask what provisions are made for naps or quiet time.
Ask about meals and nutrition and how they deal with picky eaters or specific dietary requirements.
Ask about toileting and potty-training policies.
Ask about the daily essential packing list – what is needed in the child’s bag?
Ask how the childcare center facilitate to feed pre-packed breastmilk.
Ask how staff handle the preparation of milk feed if bottle-feeding is required.
Ask about settling-in periods.
Consider that you and your child might need time to adjust to childcare arrangements.
Ask about staff ratios. Are they in line with government guidelines? What happens when people are off sick or on leave?
Ask what safeguards are in place for other people picking up your child.
Ask about the childcare costs and what you may be entitled to under government subsidy schemes.
Find out what the childcare center’s daily hours are and if these apply all-year round or just to term times.
Check the availability of places. Some childcare center places need to be booked up to a year ahead.
If you’re returning to work, read our tips for going back to work after a baby.