Every toddler is different, so when it comes to deciding the type of childcare that will help your child thrive, it can be tough to find what’s best. For some families, it’s easiest to rely on close relatives and friends to provide care. For others, however, it’s important to find someone else to take on the caregiver role.
Luckily, there is no shortage of options for childcare in Chicago, from nannies to licensed daycare centers willing to take your child in for a few hours a day. But how can you be sure that you are choosing the right place for your child?
Follow this simple guide to make sure you are making the right choice for care for your toddler.
1.Weigh Your Options
There is no one-size-fits-all way to care for a child, which makes it feel even more challenging to decide the route you should take.
If you can rely on friends and family, like the toddler’s grandparents, that can sometimes be the most convenient (and cheapest!) option. The only downside of this is that your toddler won’t be in a room with other children their age to foster healthier communication habits with peers.
Hiring a nanny is also a common choice for Chicago parents, though they have a high price tag that pushes some families away. You can count on one-on-one care all day, though, letting you feel relieved that your child will be well attended to.
The most popular and likely most feasible option for childcare is to find a daycare center in your area. They often cater to parents’ working schedules and foster growth through creative play in a structured classroom environment.
It can help to create a pros and cons list of all childcare options you have before choosing the route you plan to take. It’s up to your family’s needs to decide what makes the most sense!
Before making a purchase, we often read reviews and talk to friends to decide if it’s something we’d be happy with. The same is true for the childcare you choose for your child!
It can often be beneficial to talk to other parents who have a toddler to find out what they like (or even dislike) about the form of childcare they use. This is a great way to both eliminate any options and to potentially find others!
If you opt to hire a nanny, finding one that you can trust can be daunting without the help of a friend or family member who has used one they love. Get some recommendations first before making any final choices.
If daycare is more your cup of tea, check out this list of the best daycares in Chicago to help you narrow your search. All daycare centers on this list offer structured activities that lead to positive development in children of all ages.
See if you can find a parent with first-hand experience with the options you like the best to make a more informed decision for your toddler.
3.Meet with Caregivers
If you hire a nanny or bring your child to daycare, you will want to know the person or people who will spend many hours with your toddler. It is always a good idea to set up a daycare tour or have the nanny visit your home before committing.
Setting up meetings with potential caregivers will give you a better idea of their care philosophy to see if it aligns with your own. When choosing a daycare, you can also see the types of interactive toys and resources the facility will have available to your toddler.
If you like the people and feel comfortable with the facility before deciding to send your child there, you will feel much more prepared for that first day!
4.Learn More About Curriculum
The type of childcare you choose largely depends upon the style of teaching you agree the most with.
Nannies are often tailored more to your child’s individual needs because of the one-on-one time they spend together. This is a benefit in that you know your child will get plenty of care and attention, and though you don’t always know what the nanny will choose to do on any given day, you can provide guidance and suggestions that align with your child’s interests.
With a daycare, you can count on a very similar schedule every day. They often have morning storytime, outdoor play, lunch, and other play-based learning activities throughout the day that follows a routine.
Your toddler will know what to expect when they get to school and will look forward to their favorite activities. Plus, you can be assured that your child will have well-rounded knowledge since they will be exposed to so much!
5.Consider Caregiver to Child Ratio
Every type of childcare differs in the number of adults that spend time with your child throughout the day. While you can count on a nanny to be the only one with your child, daycare centers often have a few adults in the room to cater to the needs of everyone.
It’s a good idea to ask a daycare what the caregiver-to-child ratio is in the toddler classroom. One for every four or five tends to be a good range, ensuring a teacher can spend enough time with each child.
Having more than one caregiver in the room is also great for your toddler’s socialization. As this article points out, interacting with multiple people during the day will help them practice and improve their social skills.
6.Flexibility of Hours
Another factor in choosing the type of childcare that works for your family is how flexible the hours are. In addition to more standard hours, most daycare centers also offer morning care and after-school care. Some may offer extended hours for parents who work very late.
One of the most significant benefits of a nanny is that they can often flex their hours to fit your schedule. If you work anything other than the usual nine to five shift, this can be helpful!
Daycare centers, however, might be flexible if you ask! It all depends on how transparent you are with the staff to see if they can cater to your specific needs.
When choosing the right childcare option for your toddler, many factors go into your final decision. Thinking through your needs, wants, and hopes for your child using these six ideas can help you make a well-informed decision!