So, When Should I Start Looking for Daycare?The answer largely depends on what kind of care you’re looking for. Will you need daycare for an infant? Or, are you going to wait until your child is older — will you want toddler care or preschool? If you’re looking for infant daycare, start early. Space at child care centers nationwide is limited — they fill up quickly. You may need to learn how to get on a daycare waiting list. It’s never too early to start looking!
Why Is Daycare Important?Getting your child into a good facility where you can have peace of mind is likely your top concern. And with good reason — research shows daycare helps positively impact various child development milestones. Starting daycare before your child is of preschool age can help them build valuable communication and social skills, confidence, and school readiness.
According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the right high-quality program allows even infants to gain skills and thrive. These programs offer specific environmental elements and developmentally appropriate practices to promote healthy development at any age.
Questions to Ask YourselfAnswering these key questions will help you decide when to enroll your child in daycare.
Do you have other children?With other children in the mix, it’s always worthwhile to finalize your daycare situation well in advance. The sooner you get everything planned out, the more comfortable you will feel as you go into your final months of pregnancy.
Plus, there’s no guarantee that your current daycare facility will have a spot open for your newest addition. Getting on the waiting list as soon as possible can help ensure all your children are in the same program — and you’re only visiting one location for drop-off and pick-up.
Maybe your other kids are of school age. In that case, you’ll want to find a daycare facility — close to your kids’ school(s), close to home, or close to work — whatever makes life easier for you.
When are you due?With the question, “When should I start looking for daycare?” on your mind, consider your due date to help determine your ideal start date at daycare. Enrollment at child care facilities can fluctuate throughout the year, so we recommend getting everything lined up as soon as possible — ideally before your second trimester. It’ll be one less thing you have to worry about!
Will you go back to work?If you’re going back to work after maternity leave, you’ll need to find daycare that supports your workday. Consider daycare schedules and convenient locations, and look for a location that has availability around your return-to-work date. On the other hand, the pandemic has caused a surge of previously working mothers to leave the workforce. If you don’t plan to go back to work after maternity leave, what do your daycare needs entail? Consider your daily responsibilities and your ideal schedule, and look for a location close to home.
Does your partner plan to take parental leave?The question may not be, “When should I start looking for daycare?” but rather, “When should we start looking for daycare?”
Whether you and your partner take leave at the same time or you decide to stagger it (your partner starts leave once you go back to work), we still recommend ensuring you have a daycare lined up well before your baby is born.