We know that it can be hard leaving your little one in childcare for the first time.
But for many of us, it eventually becomes a necessity: maybe you have to go back to work; perhaps you think your baby would benefit from more socialising; it’s possible you have a newborn to care for, or maybe you just need more time to do other things during the day.
Whatever the reason, other than practical considerations such as location, how do you decide what creche they’ll attend? How do you know if it’s right for you and your child?
Here are eight of the most important questions to ask before making the final decision on where to enrol your little one…
1. What are the staff qualifications?
Of course, everyone working in a creche must have training and experience minding children, but what level of training do they have?
All staff working directly with children must have a Level 5 Major Award in Early Childhood Care and Education. However, if a creche is providing the ECCE scheme, the room leaders have to have a Level 6 Major award in Early Childhood Care and Education.
If your little one has any learning difficulties, it might be best to have someone who is more specifically trained to work with them.
And what about first aid? According to Irish law, there must always be a person present that is trained in first aid for children. However, it might give you piece-of-mind knowing who and how many people at the creche are trained.
2. What is their nap policy?
You know your child’s sleeping habits better than anyone, so you want to make sure that the creche nap policy work for you and your family.
For example, if the nap time is later in the afternoon, that might leave your child too awake when it reaches bedtime at home.
Does your child sometimes do better without a nap? Or with just a short nap? Ask the creche what happens if your child doesn’t want to rest alongside the other kids.
3. When do they toilet train?
Every child is ready to be toilet-trained at different ages. You might want creche staff who are looking out for signs that your toddler is ready and able. It is also important to have supportive staff who will work with you when you choose to do away with nappies.
4. How long do the children spent outdoors?
It is so important for children to spend a portion of their day outside. Is there an outdoor area for the children to play? And if not, is there a park or playground nearby to go instead?
In Ireland, rainy days can’t be helped, but when heavy rain holds off, how long would your child be spending outside?
5. What and when do the kids eat?
Is your child a picky eater? Do they have any allergies or dietary requirements?
It’s important to know how flexible the creche menu is and what they will do to accommodate your child’s specific needs.
If your child gets moody when their blood sugar is low, you’ll want to find out what the story is with snacks. Do they provide regular snacks? If not, can you provide some for your child to eat outside of the official meal times?
6. What is the sick-child policy?
Kids get sick. Sometimes they get sick a lot. If you keep your child at home when they get sick, find out if the creche will still charge you for those days (in all likelihood they will).
Or if your child is a little bit sick but has no fever and you think they’re well enough to attend, will the creche still take them?
Your and your child’s needs are important but keep in mind that the creche has several other children to look out for. So best to find out how strict they are with illness before you find yourself late for an appointment with a sniffly child that the creche won’t take.
7. Who can collect your child?
Your child staying safe is the number one most important thing to both you and the creche staff. So, of course, the creche is not going to hand over your child to just anyone at the end of the day.
But what happens if one day you get held up? You might need someone else to do the pick-up. It’s always best to know your options in advance.
8. Can you pop in whenever you like?
We know leaving your kid is hard. And while we don’t recommend calling into the creche whenever you start missing your baby, it’s good to know you have the option.
A creche that understands and works with a parent’s separation anxiety can be great. You might want somewhere that will give you frequent updates on how your kid is getting on. Many creches will be more than happy to do this.
And if those updates aren’t enough, it’s always good to know you can pop in without a problem.