Baby/Toddler & Parent
Enrichment Center

Norwell, MA & New for July 2024 … Pembroke, MA!


How to Choose a Daycare

by Margaret Breen • March 7th, 2016

Choosing a daycare for your baby can feel incredibly overwhelming. Finding someone you trust with your child is stressful enough without the added pressures of cost, pickup schedules and sick policies. We hope these steps streamline your process of how to choose a daycare and you can feel good about your choice.

1. Research online the daycares around your home or work, depending on which might be more convenient for you and your partner.

2. Ask around. Do neighbors, friends or co-workers, have recommendations? Take suggestions graciously, but don’t feel cornered into picking based on those suggestions. This is your baby and your decision.

3. Create a list. You can Download our Daycare Spreadsheet to make things easier.

4. Based on online research and a phone call or two, start to fill in your spreadsheet to help you narrow down choices. Differential information is listed below and on the Daycare Spreadsheet.

  • Location
  • Nanny, in-home daycare, or a daycare center
  • Price and frequency of payments
  • Hours
  • Mixed ages vs. same age groupings
  • Caregiver to child ratio
  • Staff qualifications, training, experience and turnover of staff
  • Appearance (clean, organized, safe, age-appropriate toys)
  • Space Availability (Waitlist?)
  • Policies (sick, late, discipline, drop-in)
  • Structure of day (curriculum, enrichment opportunities, organization, structure)
  • Supplies parents need to bring vs. daycare provides
  • Contract needed?
  • “Flex Care” options for additional days/hours?

Background checks/references

5. Make appointments to visit your top choices. Try and schedule them when children are present and be sure to give yourself plenty of time at each center. Visiting a few centers, even if you are pretty positive about one, is good because it gives you comparisons.

6. Most of the time, parents say it comes down to a gut feeling they get when they walk in and speak with the staff. Make your visits count! Bring a pen and a notepad, along with a list of questions that are important to you. Remember, this is your baby and your life. Don’t be bashful asking personal details or taking too much of their time.

We’ve compiled a list of questions in a separate blog post. Read Interview Questions for Daycares, here.

7. Call the references each daycare gives you. Better yet – ask parents you see in the parking lot how they like the daycare. They haven’t been pre-screened and might give you more honest answers.

8. Make your decision and secure a spot for your baby. Pat yourself on the back – this is really hard work!

Looking for more resources for expectant parents who plan on returning to work? Check out our New Parent Work Program! You can also check out our newborn classes and mommy groups.

Interview Questions for Daycares

by Margaret Breen • March 6th, 2016

Visiting daycares can be daunting. Some expectant parents might feel the weight of the responsibility to choose The Best Daycare without knowing exactly what that looks like. We’re here to help, and composed a step-by-step guide to choosing a daycare , a printable Daycare Spreadsheet, and this set of interview questions to ask caregivers once you’ve narrowed your search.

Day-to-Day Operations

How does communication work? Do they use daily printouts of baby’s activities during the day? Will they email pictures? Do they produce a newsletter?

What is the sick policy? Weak sick policies don’t necessarily mean you won’t have to stay home less with a sick child. It might mean your baby will be sick more.

Does the center close any weeks for training or vacation? Some small shops may close 2-4 weeks a year, with varying payment policies. This might choose your vacation time for you.

Are you required to pay for days your child does not attend? Some daycares let you take weeks off for vacation without paying and some wont.

What is their security? Are there security codes or badges?

Do they have an open-door policy on parent visits?

What supplies must you provide? Most daycares ask you to provide diapers, crib sheets, wipes, extra clothes, pre-made bottles, cereal, and other things. Ask how labeling works and how they will communicate if supplies run low.

How do they deal with allergies?

Do they have flex care options or additional hours?

Do you need a contract?


What is the turnover rate for teachers?

Are teachers CORI formed?

What are teacher certifications?

Does anyone smoke? If so, where?


How do they calm a fussy baby? What happens if a baby cried inconsolably?

What is the discipline policy?

What are the age groupings? What is the theory behind the groupings, and when do children advance?

What is the caregiver-to-child ratio? Is there an open floor plan so instructors who need a break or could use an extra hand get additional support?

How is each day structured? Ask about curriculum, enrichment opportunities, and organization.

How do they encourage language development?

How do they encourage gross and fine motor skills?

What art and science is incorporated for older children?

-Do they incorporate extracurriculars? Do Spanish, music, or dance teachers come in, and does is cost extra? Do they offer swim lessons or sports?

The Space

Do they wash toys every time they go in any mouth? How often is everything wiped down? How are soft toys washed?

How often are sheets changed, and are they washed on site or sent home? Will an infant ever share a crib with another infant?

Is there a separate room for infants? Until what age?

Is there child-made art up or does it look like they raided the clearance aisle in Staples? Are the decorations season-appropriate or stagnant?

How often are baby swings used? Look for swing and appliance-free areas or “least-restrictive” environments that encourage babies to spend most of their time on mats where they can move, squirm, crawl, have tummy time, explore, socialize, and learn.

How is the room organized? Toddler and preschooler areas should be organized into stations (i.e., the art station, the blocks station, the sand station, the dress-up station, etc.) This helps your child learn focus (one task at a time), responsibility (you have to clean up before you can move), social skills (working together with others at one task), organization, and whatever the task itself if teaching her.

Is there outdoor play space available? How often do children go outside?


How does the introduction to solids work?

Do they brush children’s teeth? MA state law requires daycare providers to brush children’s teeth after meals because gum disease is the most prevalent childhood disease.

How do they heat bottles? Microwaves and crock pots can be unsafe.

How is breastmilk handled? (It should be kept separate from other milk, labeled, and providers should use gloves while giving bottles.)

Where are babies fed in relation to where they are changed?


Do teachers wash their hands or change gloves after every diaper change? MA state law requires that they do.

How is potty training supported?

Looking for more resources for expectant parents who plan on returning to work? Check out our New Parent Work Program!

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