What Soon-To-Be Parents Need To Know About Infant Care Programs

Are you a soon-to-be working mother? Will you need out-of-the-home infant care for your child? Even though you may still have months until your due date arrives, you're ready to start a daycare search now. Before you tour programs, take a look at what new parents need to know about infant care.

There Are Teacher-to-Child Ratios In Daycare

The more adults in a daycare classroom, the more attention each child gets. To maintain adequate supervision and meet the needs of every infant, licensed programs must meet minimum state or local teacher-to-child ratios. According to the U.S. Administration for Children and Families, a one adult per every three to four infants (12-months and under) teacher-to-child ratio is an acceptable number. Some states may have slightly different requirements. 

Check with your state's child care licensing agency for specific ratio numbers. If your family's would-be center has fewer teachers or more children in each room than the licensing agency allows, continue your search. 

There Are Safety Standards

Adult-to-child ratios aren't the only licensing regulations or rules in the early childhood environment. Not only should licensed daycare centers follow ratio guidelines, they should also adhere to strict safety standards. Like ratios, these are set by individual states or local licensing agencies. Some child care centers may have additional standards that they expect their staff to follow.

Safety standards may include categories such as health, hygiene, physical environment, cleanliness, and supervision. Each standard should contribute to the overall safety of the children that the program serves. The school's director can help you to learn more about the daycare's safety standards and protocols. You may also see some of these standards in action. Look for safety features such as electrical outlet covers in the classrooms or a clean and debris-free classroom environment. 

There Are Developmentally-Informed Activities In Daycare

Even though your baby won't start out their daycare adventure ready to finger paint, build with blocks, or read storybooks, they will still engage in daily activities and follow the program's curriculum. A quality daycare center employs experienced educators who can create daily lessons or activity plans that meet the child's developmental needs. These activities should follow expected infant milestones and help each child to grow and develop new skills or abilities.

Infant classroom activities vary by program and by age subgrouping (such as zero to six-months or six to 12-months). Common activities you may find in the daycare setting include read-alouds/story-times, singing or vocalization, sensory explorations, or mirror games.