Thinking about daycare? Tips on what to look out for - Part I

"Safety is more important than convenience" ~ Don Hambidge

When I opened up this post to edit, I saw the 'last saved' date and nearly fell off my chair. I mean I started writing this post over three months ago, and have had it 'nearly completed' for more than a month now. 

I cannot even think of where to begin my apologies. I sincerely apologise for the protracted silence. A lot has been happening with me...and this lot is called 'life'. I will try my best not to pull anymore disappearing stunts again. 

Now to the The Baby Analyst. I was going to make this a single post, but decided against it because of the length. I'll split it in two  so I don't begin to bore you after my months of hiatus. 

Returning to work after maternity leave or holiday is really tough. We just never seem ready despite knowing how fast the date is approaching, or how much we think we have prepared. A three-month maternity holiday (as is in Nigeria) doesn't quite seem like enough time before we're ready to leave our babies for more than 3 hours at a stretch. Some of us are fortunate enough to get extended holidays or sufficient help from family that does not require us needing daycare for our babies. 

Is it that time for you yet? Are you considering daycare? What are the things to look out for when we try to pick out pre-schools or creches/daycares for our kids. I have been able to come up with a few tips to look out for.

Nurseries and Daycares (Creches) are expected to meet some minimum standards of health and safety in different countries, and are typically regularly inspected to ensure that they maintain these standards. I'll assume anyone operating here (Lagos/Nigera) has already been authorised or certified and is being regularly inspected. Although I have heard some not-so-good stories about a few, this post will not focus on that right now.  My friend and I had to help a mum pick up her 15-month old baby from his daycare and we weren't very impressed with the environment. I saw a few potentially unsafe things that made me a little uncomfortable. 

SO, let's dig in:

When to start looking?:
What would be the best time to start fishing for a good daycare facility or crรจche? Some people start looking much earlier though, as early as before the baby comes. Someone I know started looking around while she was pregnant. This gave her ample time to familiarise herself with the proprietress, the caregivers, and made friends with a couple of the parents before feeling comfortable enough to start dropping her baby when it was time. She was also quite fortunate her baby wasn't a high-needs baby (that is babies that are really attached to their parents and need their constant attention/care), so starting daycare wasn't very tough.

Proximity to home or office?: 
In a city like Lagos, proximity is a really big deal. The eternally constipated roads and long hours spent in traffic make moving around the city a mega chore.  I read a funny quote once that says: "the dream of every Lagosian (one who lives in Lagos) is to live close to their job; everything else is vanity". 
Would you prefer a daycare closer to your house or office? I'd pick proximity to work rather than home for ease of accessibility. I think it would help to have the daycare closer to your office so you could be easily reached in an emergency (and I assume that you spend more day time or hours at work than home). 

However, you'd still have to weigh the costs and benefits of this, as making a choice based on proximity comes with its challenges. A mother I was speaking with said she had to move her daughter from a daycare close to her office to one closer to home. Her reason being that she got unnecessarily stressed with having to get her baby up so early in the morning to prepare her for the day. Packing up lunch, diapers, getting her own self ready, then hitting the road early to try to avoid traffic took its toll on her and her baby. Switching daycares seems to have worked well for her, especially as she was also able to get a nanny at home that manged to help with picking and dropping her baby (getting a good nanny is a different story altogether). 

Hygiene and general tidiness: 
How well kept is the place? Please do not discount this; it is very important. I am not saying it has to be expensive or have state of the art or world class facilities (you have to consider your budget as well). However, whatever facilities are in the school should be kept neat and well maintained. I know maintenance is one of our major problems in Nigeria. If the place can't be kept neat and tidy, it'll be tough for you to trust how it will be managed in the event of a disease outbreak; the spread will be so bad.  
It'd be good to know how often the place is sanitized or disinfected, what kind of disinfectants or sanitary agents are used, etc. I do not hear about frequent inspections by the regulatory authorities after granting initial approvals to begin operating the facility, so you need to be vigilant.

To be Continued: 
The Baby Analyst.

Not a doctor, just a financial analyst who loves kids


Anonymous said…
Thanks BabyAnalyt....I was starting to think that you gave up on us mummies :)
Awwww...I am so sorry. I would never give up on mummies.
Thank_you :-)
Anonymous said…
Welcome back. A very practical write up. Looking forward to part 2.
Thanks Anonymous! Part 2 coming up soon :-)
Seyi Falaiye said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thanks Seyi. Part 2 coming up very soon
Anonymous said…
Looking forward to the second part milady.

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