As a parent, you make decisions about your child’s well-being every single day. One of the most significant decisions you’ll ever make is who will care for your children when they are young.
Choosing care for your infant or toddler can be overwhelming. There are so many choices when it comes to childcare, and many parents wonder how they’ll know if a program is right for their family.
Children in their youngest years need enriching, nurturing care in a safe and enriching environment. This article will explore what to look for in an infant and toddler care program, how to identify high-quality care, and how to find loving care for your child.
At New Horizons, we offer high-quality care for children from birth through five. Reach out to our caring team now to learn about our programs, schedule a visit, or register your child into our school.
What to Look For in an Infant and Toddler Program
Babies and toddlers learn so much about the world before they can ask questions. From a baby’s first breath, they explore the world with their senses and absorb new information. Research shows that a child’s brain grows and develops faster between birth and five years old than at any other time in their life.
It’s clear that the early years are an essential time of growth and learning. Finding infant and toddler care that provides developmentally appropriate activities, safe care, and a nurturing environment that supports a baby’s emotional development as they navigate the earliest years is crucial.
Following a schedule will ensure your child receives the care and activities they need to thrive each day. The schedule should include time for activities, eating, sleeping, and other essential care.
A focus on sensory experiences
Babies and toddlers are little sponges who use touch, taste, hearing, smell, and sight to learn about their environment. A great infant and toddler care program will offer many sensory experiences throughout the day and a carefully designed environment to explore independently.
Large and small muscle development
Babies and toddlers require many opportunities to use their bodies, including both large and small muscle groups. There should be opportunities to stretch, move, crawl, and play and age-appropriate fine motor activities that encourage pincer grasp and hand strength.
Playing outdoors is essential in early childhood. Children learn best by being active, and research shows that nature play is critical in helping kids develop bodily awareness and confidence. The program should offer daily outdoor play in a safe, supervised environment.
5 Signs of a High-Quality Infant and Toddler Care Program
There are many childcare facilities to choose from, and it can sometimes feel challenging to determine which ones offer high-quality care. Here are five signs of a high-quality infant and toddler care program to watch for.
1. Glowing reviews
When searching for an infant and toddler program, make sure to read verified reviews from parents in the program. You can browse online reviews on the center’s website, but branch out to find a broader range of reviews by searching parent groups on social media. You can also ask the center to provide contact information for current or past families, who will give you an honest review.
2. Happy children
It might go without saying, but the children in a care program should be happy and content. The babies and toddlers should appear happy, engaged, and well cared for. The environment should be full of age-appropriate toys, and they should seem comfortable with their caregivers.
3. Caring staff
The staff at a care center is essential. The caregivers should be trained and certified, of course–but they should also be engaged and interested in their work with children.
Pay attention to body language: do they make good eye contact with children? Do they get on the same level as the children to play and have conversations? Listen to their tone of voice. Teachers should treat babies and toddlers respectfully and gently guide them instead of simply saying “no” or being authoritative.
This may seem obvious, but safety is critical in a high-quality child care center. Look for basic safety measures, like:
Baby-proofing in infant and toddler areas–outlet covers, baby gates, functioning straps on changing tables and highchairs, etc.
No choking hazards
Cleaning supplies and other chemicals are out of reach
Ask about how they sanitize surfaces and toys, food safety practices, and how staff members are trained to handle emergencies.
5. Licensed facility
Childcare centers are typically required to undergo yearly site visits and a thorough application process to ensure continued licensure. Licensure ensures a childcare center meets current state guidelines and that all staff meet the basic criteria to work with children, including CPR certification, background checks, and all required training. The facility is evaluated for safety, and all practices meet current state standards.
Find Infant and Toddler Care in Palm Harbor, FL
If you or a loved one is looking for infant or toddler care in Palm Harbor, Florida, reach out to the New Horizons Country Day School today. Our caring, dedicated professionals offer high-quality, enriching care for babies, toddlers, and children in the preschool years. Contact us today to schedule a tour or register for one of our programs.