Concerns about Daycare's Policies & Practices

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Concerned about some of my daycare's practices with infants

June 2010


My infant recently started at a highly recommended large family daycare. I've seen a few things that have raised some flags, and I'm hoping that some parents with daycare experience can give me some perspective. The issues include baby napping on her stomach with blankets, napping on an adult bed, taking only one nap per day because she ''refused to go to sleep,'' and microwaving bottles. I've already addressed the stomach sleeping issue, but how would you handle this? I really like the people and want to make it work, and I understand that concessions have to be made in a daycare setting. Is it worth talking to them about all of this, should I look elsewhere for child care, or should I expect these types of issues at all family daycares? Thanks! Anonymous

I would remove my child at once, but that is just me. The things you have observed are dangerous to your baby (and other peoples babies, in their care). NEVER EVER should a bottle be microwaved, it creates hot spots in the formula, and it will break down breast milk so its not good any more. If your baby or the ones you saw sleeping on their tummy are too young to roll on their own they are being put in a compromising sleep position same goes with or adult bed. If your committed to staying with them I would start by bring a sleep sac or two and say please use this on my child not blankets and never ever warm the bottle in the microwave or make them ahead of time, it's better served up room temp than burning your baby. But if that is just what you observed what is going on that you don't see? Sounds like the care takers lack good judgment, which is not your place to teach it to them. move on mama

Our 3rd child is now in daycare and the older two children were also in daycare when they were little. With all of them I have had to switch daycares at least once in order to find the daycare that was perfect for me.

I am certainly not an expert, but I definitely have experience in this. I think you should go with what you know is right and what isn't. I have been swayed by other's opinions about a daycare just to find out that I thought that they were actually not good at all. That doesn't mean that the other parents are out to lunch. Their priorities are just different from yours.

Only you can decide whether it is okay to continue with this daycare or not. Obviously, your standards are quite different from theirs. Will a conversations about the issues actually change their standards?

I know how you must feel right now, 'cause I have felt that way also in the past. It's so frustrating and a real problem. I have always confronted the daycare provider with the issues that I saw and they were eventually never resolved. In the end, I pulled my child and ALWAYS found a daycare that was a much better fit for me and my child.

Hang in there! joj

Wow, the microwaving bottles is definitely not good. It sounds like there are too many issues there... I'd look for something else. Bianca

I work at an agency that trains family child care providers so I have seen lots of providers and programs over the years. It is true that they generally aren't run like a child care center but you can (and, in my opinion, should) definitely insist that your provider follow basic safety standards such as ensuring that infants sleep on their backs, without soft blankets. Unfortunately there are many providers do the questionable things you describe, but there ARE providers that take things like this quite seriously, so if your provider won't, I strongly recommend that you move your child to one that will.

Bottom line: It is NOT inappropriate for you to expect that your child's basic needs are met, so don't hesitate to express your concerns in a respectful way. You also might offer them resources to help them learn how to do manage things like napping in a busy family child care environment. For example, you could refer them to their local Resource and Referral agency for free child care trainings. (Bananas, for the Oakland/Berkeley area, has LOTS of trainings for child care providers.) Family child care is very hard work, and sometimes providers just need support in figuring out how to manage it all. However, if your provider won't work with you, look elsewhere. ECE Professional


Is this common practice, or should I expect something different?

Dec 2009


My 9-month old daughter started daycare when she was about 5 months old. She seems to have adjusted well. I don't know if some of the issues I've had are common - and should be expected, if not tolerated - or if I should say something and expect something different. I don't want to be unreasonable, but yet I feel I should do everything in my power to make sure my daughter's daycare experience is a positive, safe, and healthy one. I apologize for the length of this, but would appreciate your feedback and experience on the following:

1) Diapers - It's not uncommon for me to pick her up and find she has a soiled diaper that seems to have been that way for more than a couple hours, and/or horrible diaper rash that was not there before. The policy for this daycare is to check diapers every 2 hours. I don't know that the caretakers stick to this schedule. My daughter was treated for a UTI not long ago, which the Dr. indicated could be a diaper changing issue. I also notice on occasion that her bum is not completely wiped clean.

2) Environment - My daughter is a happy, energetic, engaged, playful, and curious baby when she's at home with us, but appears to be on the reserved (yet observant) side when at daycare. I am wondering if this is not unusual. I understand there may just be too much stimulation so she decides to sit back and observe. But I am hoping the noise and ''activity'' level are not stressful for her.

3)Sick/coughing caretakers - On more than a few occasions, a caretaker has gone to work sick. I asked a caretaker how she was feeling after she'd been out, and she told me she was feeling feverish but hadn't yet called the doctor. I realize that the caretakers probably don't get paid if they are out sick, and the daycare center may have few back-up providers. However, is it unreasonable to expect caretakers who are coughing, sneezing, have fevers, etc., to stay home until their symptoms are gone, or at least a practice that requires such caretakers to stay home?

4)Lost items - clothes, blankets, pacifiers, bottles, etc. - On occasion, my daughter's belongings have been lost or misplaced. One day I picked her up and she had another baby's pacifier in her mouth. Is it unreasonable to expect a system to limit these kinds of mix-ups? Another parent had shared with me once that her son came home with some other boy's shoes and she was not happy. Thank you for your thoughts! In Need of Reality Check

I operate a small family day care home where the majority of children are in diapers. I change diapers every 2-3 hours or AS NEEDED. A soiled diaper is usually obvious and always tended to immediately. There is no excuse for not cleaning a child properly.

Yes, it is unreasonable to have a sick, feverish person caring for your child. I understand it's a tough situation, but what you described is unacceptable.

Lost or misplaced items is a common problem in group care. The best way to minimize the problem is for parents to label everything possible. Go crazy with the sharpie (even pacifiers) Even so, sometimes a parent or provider will grab the wrong sweater or jacket. In the case of shoes, they must have been very similar for the parent not to notice. There really isn't a fool proof method, but compared to dirty bottoms and sick providers, this is small potatoes. Oakland day care provider

I dont have my baby in day care so I'm probably not the best person to answer this question, but I do have part time childcare help. My first question to your post is I'd really like to know what you pay to have your child in this day care. It really scares me if this is the average daycare out there. I cannot even imagine some of the things occuring to my child that you are describe.

Is this day care licensed? Are there certain rules a licensed day care needs to follow? Like changing dirty diapers on a regular basis? not having sick employees come to work? etc. I would be alarmed with the things you mention too. If I were you, I would look for a more hygenic daycare for your child, and ask about all these issues during the interview process. distressed about day care

All the issues you raise are unacceptable in my mind. Our daycare *never* had any of those problems, ever. The director wouldn't have tolerated it.

I suggest you switch to a better daycare. Your #2 especially makes me sad. My children came home from daycare happy and excited about their day. It sounds like the director of your daycare does not have high enough standards, may not be paying the staff enough if they are encouraged to come to work sick, or may not be hiring enough staff in order to squeeze a bit more profit out of the operation.

It doesn't have to be this way! With the tough economy, there are many great daycares and nannies looking for kids to take care of. It's a buyer's market these days. I'd suggest you interview a few other places. Good luck!

Are these mistakes random or consistent? Have you addressed them with her caregiver? Is your daughter quiet when you drop her off? Do you think she is like that all day? Drop off and pick up time are a major emotional transition for a child, to go from home to school environment. Do you really think that your infant just sits and watches the entire day?

Ask for a meeting with your daughter's caregiver. You have the right to bring up these issues, and the best person to bring these concerns to is your daughter's teacher. If then the issues are not corrected, ask for a meeting with the teacher and the next person in charge. Lyn

If it were my daughter, I would pull her. The lost items aren't such a big deal (though having another kid's pacifier is pretty gross -- I would label your daughter's with her name and always leave the same, brightly colored one(s) there so they get used to what hers look like). But in one of the few observable parts of her care, how well they diaper her, they are clearly failing. Your daycare clearly isn't changing her often enough. It's enough that it has made her sick. That's not okay. We have 3 kids and have sent them to 3 different daycares, and all the daycares have offered to change the kids' diapers when I was leaving if they were soiled.

I also have real issues with sick providers and your daughter hanging back after 4 months in care. Anon

It seems like your gut is telling you that something is wrong, and frankly, from your posting, I think you're right. Please don't ignore your feelings on this one; the best thing may be to find another daycare. Anon

Please TAKE YOUR CHILD OUT of that daycare immediately! It is not acceptable that your child is so neglected there that she has to stay in a soiled diaper for 2 hours! Any reputable daycare will be tuned in to your child enough to notice a dirty diaper quickly and properly clean her. the fact that she's had an infection due to the daycare's negligence is horrible! You absolutely have the right to expect your child be kept clean and healthy. Your child is giving you clues in the way she behaves that are saying ''I'm not happy here!!'' You are her advocate and protector so do your job and take her out of there. Here's your reality check, so do the right thing!!!! I would also urge you to report this place to the licensing agency with the hope that future families won't end up in your situation. Concerned

I didn't need to get past point one. Checking for soiled diapers every two hours is a good back up policy but if no one is interacting with your daughter enough to notice she needs changing, that's problem. It's time to find a new day care provider. Your daughter deserves more attention. Katrinca

Hello there. These problems are real. It is unacceptable to come pick your baby up and find her wearing a soiled diaper. Checking the diaper every two hours is a good policy but you should expect that the diaper is changed whenever soiled, every time. It seems to me this is a large day care center, and I supposed these are common problems. But I would speak up and bring my concerns with a tone of authority (if not threatening) to the main person as well as to the other workers. What about checking in with the other parents at the day care and even try to meet with them outside of the center? I think it is totally worth it. I also would be concerned to find my baby girl behaving more reserved, I think this is a good signal she is not thriving at this place. Without rushing maybe it is a good time to start looking for another place? Laura

I remember a line from Gavin deBecker's book ''Protecting the Gift'' which said, ''If you feel the urge to put a nanny- cam in, so you can watch how your child is being cared for, then your instincts are telling you, it is not a good situation and you should find other arrangements.'' Leaving our precious babies in child care is hard enough, we HAVE to be able to trust that the care is top notch. The only thing you mentioned that I wouldn't worry about is your child's quiet, observant demeanor. If your child gets like that in other situations with lots of people and commotion, it is likely an inborn personality trait and nothing to worry about. You could talk to your child care providers about your concerns, but the underlying issue is their values are misaligned with yours. If you need child care help, my mother-in-law is wonderful and available. (Former preschool teacher). Email me if you like and good luck! Torie

Your concerns about your daycare seem completely legitimate to me. Follow your gut and do not be afraid to speak up. I would not hesitate to share your concerns loudly and often with the daycare people - and other parents. You can do it in a nice, but direct way. Don't be shy or feel badly about doing so. The diaper thing is serious. I remember this happening twice to my girl when she was a baby in daycare. I'd pick her up and smell an awful stinky diaper. It made me mad! But I just made a point of saying, Hey! there's a stinky diaper here!! and changing her then and there at the daycare changing table while the caregiver watched and apologized and fretted. It would be totally unacceptable to me if my child hadn't been properly wiped and had a diaper rash. They need to pay better attention. And the UTI issue is serious. Did you share the doctor's comment with the daycare? The sick caregivers is also very serious. My god! Feverish? Give me a break. Stay home! The daycare needs add'l people to cover for the ones with fever. Lost items? That is annoying. They should definitely have a system in place to keep track of which things belong to which child, especially pacifiers! Good grief. They sound very disorganized. Good luck and hope things improve and turn around immediately. If not, move on. I know it's hard to swich daycares, but it sounds like this place is sub- par. anon

I think all these issues are, in fact, both normal aspects of group care AND something to speak to the caregivers about. Re: #1 and #4, I think these are issues where good intentions sometimes go by the wayside in a busy daycare environment, and sometimes caregivers start to assume that it's OK as long as the parents aren't complaining. So just a gentle questioning from you upon dropoff/pickup will probably remind them to resume their good habits.

1) Diapers - keep on them about this. At your next dropoff, ask for more specifics about the diaper changing schedule, and let them know that your ped indicated that your baby's diaper must be changed more often. (Even if this isn't *exactly* how the dr put it, it will help you feel better about not being a ''complainer'' if you can attribute it to the dr.)

2) Environment - I think this is a pretty normal behavioral difference between social and home environments. Kids are at their most relaxed and uninhibited when at home with their parents. I would say keep an eye on this but don't stress about it unless she seems really unhappy at daycare rather than just observant.

3) Sick caretakers - this is a problem and I understand your concern. Your caregivers may not have paid sick days or health insurance, and may be sick many days out of each month given that they work w/kids. This is a difficult problem to solve, but you might start with a conversation with the caregiver/director about the staff's sick leave policy, whether they have enough backup to cover an absent staff member, etc. Their awareness of your concern is at least a starting point.

4) Lost items - this is a problem at every daycare I've been involved with. It takes real conscientiousness on the caregivers part to keep track of all the clothing and accessories, and some do it better than others. Here are some things you can do: ask about their policies/procedures for getting discarded items back to the right cubbies, etc. Let them know that it's been a problem for you. Also, label obsessively if don't already. Last, get to know the other parents so you can ask them directly about whether anyone has seen your lost hat, etc. Parent email lists are SO helpful in daycare. My daycare NOW does a pretty good job with keeping track of stuff (after complaints), but every so often we bring back a piece of misplaced clothing or a lunch container. Not a big deal b/c we know the other parents are returning our stuff too. daycare veteran

On some notes I dont see a problem. My son is very shy at daycare, preferring to observe and not always sit in circle time; so thats not so bad. Also, my daycare which is great but always losing stuff. He comes home with other kids clothes and lunch containers etc. This upsets me and is a sign that the daycare is not 100% on top of everything but not a huge problem.

In my experience, if you think your daycare is not the best for your child; then its probably worse than you think. It is a natural tendency to say ''all is well'' when its not; because if its not you may feel like a bad parent and now have to search for a new daycare and re-adjust your child to a new place.

Although this wil be hard, sounds like this must be done. How can someone care for your child when they are sick? AA

I think you have every right to be questioning these. I have 2 sons both of whom were in a small home daycare from about 6 months old to about 3 years old...all told we were there about 5 years with the caregivers. In this home, there were about 10-12 children and 2-3 adults (always 2, often 3).

1. I NEVER found either child in a soiled diaper. On a couple of occasions they were being changed as I arrived as they had just ''soiled.'' While I am sure they had a changing routine as I have seen the kids line up for new diapers, they also change ''on demand'' through out the day as the child needs one. Never a dirty bum and I was the one embarrassed if my child had diaper would have been me who left the diaper on too long on the weekend (but neither child had it more than a couple of times and never badly)

2. Our daycare provider was extremely organized (each child had a drawer, a regular crib to nap in, etc.) and never lost a thing over the 5 years.

3. The 3 care providers are regulars and once I think she brought in someone she has on call in case one of the 3 is sick.

4. All the children always seemed busy and happy (other than when they were eating which is the cutest affair where they all eat together at little tables). They did regular art, sang songs, had music on for dancing, someone in to play guitar, etc.

I am so hopeful that ours was the norm and that yours is not so that you can find a wonderful place too. Hopeful

I've used three different daycares for my children, and you are not being unreasonable at all. There are some serious health and hygeine issues listed here, and if it were me, I'd be looking for another daycare.

It's just unacceptable for a baby to be sitting in her own poop for more than a few minutes, and diaper rashes should be a rare occurrence. Most daycares make sure to change the kids right before pickup because they know the parents don't want to see their kid in a full diaper; if they can't get it together at your place to do this, then that's a major warning sign. I don't think it's unrealistic to expect a caretaker with a cough to wear a mask, especially this winter. If my kids have a fever, they get sent home; the policy should be the same for the staff. And if I found my kid chewing on another baby's pacifier, I would flip out! My current daycare uses an erasable pen to label all of the kids' stuff - bottles, pacifiers, food jars, chewing toys - and there are no germ- transmitting mix-ups. (My daughter occasionally comes home with someone else's socks on, but I can live with that.)

You didn't say in your post, but if you're using a larger daycare facility, you might want to consider a small home daycare with less than 10 children. Your daughter might not be so overwhelmed and shy at a small place, she'd get more attention, and the caretakers can stay on top of hygeine issues. You definitely can find a daycare that does an excellent job eliminating all the issues you bring up. Good luck! Kristine

I'm sorry but I had none of those issues with my family daycare situation. A poopy diaper occassionally is nothing but if it happens all the time that is an issue. My provider always changed my son before I picked him up so he'd be clean for the drive home. Sick workers should not be care giving, and I would have been really upset to see another child's pacifier in my son's mouth. I'd be looking for a new situation personally. Good luck! Leslie

Have you raised your concerns to the director/owner/caretaker in charge? That would be a first step. Personally, I would not have my kid continue. Doesn't sound like a good situation for your child or a good fit over-all for your family. picky mom

I think your concerns are enough to warrant finding a new daycare! There are so many wonderful ones reviewed on the BPN, that I'm sure you can find something better. You are not being unreasonable! Trust your mama's instincts. Good to Love your Daycare

It seems like some of your issues are valid and should be looked into. I run a small family daycare and deal with most of these things.

I do think it is not okay for your child to be sitting in soiled diapers for hours at a time. I normally do diaper changes every couple of hours as well. Of course if a diaper is super soggy or poopy, I change it as it needs to be changed. No need to wait until a ''scheduled'' changing time. I do one last change around 4 pm.(I close at 5:30) Once again, if a child needs to be changed between then and closing, I change it. Provides should also be applying diaper cream as needed and wiping properly.

It can be common for children to act differently at daycare than they do at home. She could be just taking it all in as there is normally a lot going on at daycare. Especially if you have her in a larger daycare. She is also young, and will most likely begin to interact more as she grows. As far as being sick, I have a general rule, for kids and myself a like. If you have a cold, go a head and come. It is almost impossible to keep colds out of daycare/preschool situations. If there is a fever involved, stay home. If you are not sure about symptoms, a call to the director should be expected to check in. Since I work alone, I try not to close, but if I am at risk of making the kids sick I will do so.

Lost items here and there are to be expected. I would suggest not sending your child in things that are very special to you. It may also help to label your child's things with a fabric marker. I provide all pacifiers and bottles, sippy cups ect. That way I don't have to worry about which belongs to who. If it is something like a blanket and snuggly for sleeping, putting it in the child's crib at the beginning of the day and placing it in cubbies at the end can be helpful. Hope this helps, but overall you should feel comfortable with your child's daycare situation. I would talk to the director, as communication between provider and parent is very important. daycare provider

I recommend calling the Community Care Licensing Division Child Care Offices (part of the State's Dept of Social Services). Here's the Bay Area office:


They should be able to tell you what are the standards are and help you work with your daycare to improve things. ALso, here's a national website and number: 1-800-598-KIDS(5437) (The woman at this number was extremely nice and eager to help when I called them.)

Here are a few of my own thoughts:

1) Diapers -- I think this is unreasonable. A poopy diaper should not go 2 hours (or more) before being changed. That would definitely cause a diaper rash for many babies and that would unacceptable to me.

3) NO WAY! The workers should never be feverish on the job, but especially with the H1N1 (swine) flu going around. Those babies are at highest risk. You can check the CDC guidelines, but I believe they say no one should return to work until they are fever-free for 24 hours, and not for a week from onset of a flu-like illness.

4) Clothes and pacifiers should not be exchanged! They should be labeled (a sharpie usually works) and kept to the right kid!

I'm glad you're questioning these practices. They don't seem at all right to me!! I hope you will pursue them with your daycare. Good luck! L

My 2 year old daughter has been in daycare full-time since she was 3.5 months old so maybe our experience can help.

1. Checking every two hours seems pretty standard. I'm not sure what you mean by soiled but if it's poop you of course don't want it sitting there long. It's reasonable to request increased vigilance -- and better care in terms of wiping -- on the part of the caretakers. We've done this before with our daycare teachers and they've always readily honored our request. Enlist the doctor's concern to help bolster your conversation. Our experience with diaper rash is that it happens occasionally. Sometimes our daughter has a ''stealth poo'' and it doesn't get caught for a while. She develops a rash, sometimes a big one, but the teachers are always concerned about it, bring it to my attention and we all work diligently with diaper cream to get rid of it.

2. I think she's just taking in all the activity. I wouldn't worry. As she grows older, she'll probably feel more confident in participating. For my daughter, the activity around her was one of her favorite parts. She loved watching older kids and what they did. I'm sure she was just storing up all this information for when she could try it herself.

3. Uh, yeah, sick caretakers should stay home. I'd speak to the director about this. It's a serious concern.

4. I agree, it's annoying these lost, mixed up items. I've learned to relax a little about this. I know, it's hard. I label as much as I can. I try not to send super nice clothing to daycare. I closely monitor my daughter's bin to see what's there, what's missing. I, too, have picked up my daughter only to see her with someone else's pacifier. I was told she loves swiping others' pacis and putting them in her mouth. Could this be happening with your daughter? Just emphasize your concern, you don't want to be sharing germs, the teachers need to catch this. Communicate, communicate. I agree daycare is a little more chaotic, but it has some very positive benefits. A good daycare will listen to your concerns and work with you to find a solution. anon

Knowing what to be ok with and not ok with at daycare can be tough. Perhaps my experiences can give you an idea of what to expect. I consider myself to be easygoing in terms of parenting.

Generally, from your description, I would recommend you start looking for another daycare provider. My 13-month old has been with a small family day care (3-4 kids all under 2 years, 2 to 3 workers) since he was two- and-a- half months old. I'm pleased with the daycare.

1. Diapers - From what you describe, this does not seem appropriate. Only on a few occasions has my son come home with a wet diaper, and never with a poopy diaper. When it's wet it's not very wet. He's only had one bout of diaper rash--related to starting cows milk. I don' think they have a 2-hour rule, but rather change the diaper when it's wet or dirty.

2.Environment- I think you need to use your best judgement here--you know your daughter best. My son loves daycare. He reaches out to be held by the main caregiver when I drop him off, and hugs and kisses her. At the end of the day, he's tired, but his usual self. The caregivers are observant and receptive enough to realize what he likes (throwing balls, dogs, eating) and what he needs (alone time to play by himself). Perhaps your daughter needs some alone time while at daycare?

3. Sick/coughing caregivers. Sick workers, and certainly feverish workers, should not be around the kids. This has not been a problem for us, but let me relay a story which exemplifies what I consider responsible behavior. This spring, a family member of one of the part-time workers at my daycare was hospitalized with the flu. As soon as the provider found out, she sent the worker home, despite the fact that the worker was not sick. We were told that day when we came to pick up our kids. The worker didn't come back until after it was clear she didn't get the flu.

4.Lost Items--I wouldn't be too worried abou this, as long as you eventually get your things back. My son comes home with other kids' socks/clothes occasionally, but this doesn't bother me. I wash them and return them. We've never had pacifiers, bottles, blankets, or anything else missing.

If you are considering changing providers, email me and I can give you info for my provider. I think she has a full- time spot to fill, though she may be looking for an older child. lauren

Unreasonable & totally unacceptable. Find another place ASAP. lr

My son was in a corporate daycare twice a week for 3 years, and I never saw anything like you're describing. I'd suggest you find a new place for your little sweetie. Karen

Find a new daycare! All those issues are good reasons to pull your child out of that daycare and find a better one. Those things are unacceptable and there's no excuses for them. That is a badly run daycare. You need to feel good about where your child is. 100% I'm not a picky parent, but I wouldn't not put up with dirty diapers, switched pacifiers, sick workers and those other things. leslie

Hi there! I work in a daycare and think that your concerns are pretty reasonable.

1) Talk to them about your concerns about diapering. My colleagues and I dropped the ball on the diaper issue for a period of time - primarily during staff change over (there is a morning and evening staff). One parent, mentioned their concern, we changed our 'turnover' procedures, and the problem ended. Not cleaning well enough...yuck. we don't have that problem. A friendly comment about your observation should be enough.

2) Daycare can be overstimulating for little ones. My personal opinion -- if you can hire a nanny or nanny-share until your child is 2 or 2 1/2, it is a far better situation than daycare. After that, preschool or daycare complemented with a nanny or nanny-share is preferable in my view. We love our charges. They are hugged, held, played with, etc. But we are 2 on 12 to 16...not 1 on 2 or 3. Mental downtime isn't as 'do-able' in a daycare.

3) Yup. This happens. At our daycare, we have two on-call subs and a very flexible staff. No one (except the owner and director) is full time. We are always willing to cover for someone. But, probably, every other week, a staff member ends up working with 'something,' because there just isn't anyone who can take. What really is the other option? Call you and tell you that you can't bring your child in because you can't come up with the requisite number of care-givers to maintain state ratios?

4) Send in everything to the daycare labeled. Mention that you have sent in everything labeled (even the pacifier) so that it doesn't get mixed up with any other child's belongings. I amazed at how many parents do not label what they send into daycare. Regardless, mix-ups do happen. A Kid doesn't care if a binky belongs to her or not...if she finds one on the floor, what is to stop her from popping it in her mouth? We usually catch it, but not instantly. I may be changing a diaper while the other staff person is reading a story. Five minutes (or ten) later, one of us will notice that the wrong pacifier is in the wrong mouth.

Do talk to your caregivers. Treat them like any colleague at work with whom you collaborate on a project (because, that is what they are doing - collaborating with you to raise your child). If at least the diapering situation doesn't change, then I would look somewhere else. -anon

I would say at least two of your concerns (Environment and Lost Items) sound just like my experience, but the other two did cause me to raise my eyebrows (Diapers and Sick caregivers). My daughter is 2.5yrs old and has been in her daycare since 4months old. The lost items is just totally normal & always irritating -- mark everything. The switch of pacifiers is a little more problematic, because of germs; I would expect they try to minimize that but its still going to happen (ours marked everything -- bottles, pacifiers, suncream, etc -- with different colored electrical tape per kid to make it easier). She also is exuberant at home, but is a more jut sit back and watch at school (she's youngest in class too); it has changed a bit more as she's older, but I also can now really see that its her personality and daycare didn't 'cause' it. More importantly is how the caregivers react and whether she seems to be getting attention she needs as well as the calm she might want, etc. Mine really know her and recognize that 'she needs her space' and just try to balance her needs with other kids who want to get in everyone's face and love them.

If you mean poop in her diaper that's clearly been sitting there, they should change when they notice it regardless of their schedule (there were times when she was perfectly wiped, but nothing dramatic). If you mean pee, its hard to evaluate. Our school actually recorded (for themselves) all their changes so they could keep track, and I was in the class a lot and could see that they had a clear schedule so it was just impossible that kids weren't getting changed regularly. It sounds like a possibly a problem from what you wrote.

Ours is a big daycare so there is paid sick leave and I think our caretakers follow the same rules as the kids in terms of coming to school sick, so they wouldn't come if they were feverish but would if they had one of the many colds that go around making them cough and sniffle. That said, I would note that someone who has just started working with kids will be sick ALL THE TIME until they pick up immunities (its a common phenonomena) which could make them feel that it might endanger their job, so maybe there is something of that kind going on if its a particular caregiver. But the daycare should still take care that it doesn't happen. anon

Wow, I'm so glad you posted with your concerns. I am an Early Intervention Specialist, and have worked in numerous infant daycare centers before/during my years at school, and have observed at dozens more. I feel comfortable in my certainty that your daughter's caretakers are NOT responsibly meeting her needs.

While I don't want you to panic over this, these issues are serious cause for alarm. It is beyond inappropriate -- and indeed a serious health risk and severe lack of responsible care -- that your daughter sits in a soiled diaper. Once or twice could be understandable, but severe diaper rash? UTIs? The fact that this happens frequently? Totally unacceptable.

Furthermore, after four months in the same environment, it's surprising to me that your daughter is exhibiting marked personality differences between home and daycare... Perhaps she is just this way while warming up -- how long have you had time to observe her there? Is she only reserved/observant during the time when she's transitioning away from mom and into daycare? It raises some alarm, but of course I don't know all the details, and every child is different.

Childcare providers should not come to work sick, but unfortunately it is more common than not. I work with a highly at-risk population, so my co-workers and I are ultra vigilant about staying home when sick, but for the most part, those of us who work with children are extra susceptible and it's not uncommon for daycare providers and preschool teachers to have what seems like a perpetual cold.

Finally, lost items-- well, a shoe mixup is pretty common, but adults need to be vigilant about putting another child's pacifier in your daughter's mouth. That's ridiculous, and grossly irresponsible. Such cross-contamination should never happen in a responsible daycare.

You have good cause for alarm. I would not stay at this daycare -- the diaper issue alone is pretty bad. None of this I say to make you feel guilty or bad -- on the contrary, I praise you for bringing up these issues and realizing the possibility of a problem here. If you feel comfortable, I'd even mention the name of the daycare so others know where NOT to attend. -K, the Bay Area resource for parents and childcare providers has an excellent article under resources, called Childcare Complaints: How to Avoid Them and What To Do About The Ones You Can't.

  ''Suggestions for Parents with Complaints -Speak out- sitting on a problem won't solve it. -Find a time when both parties can talk freely. -Keep the child (and other families and children) out of a dispute, don't be tempted to complain to other parents in the program. -Listen to the other person; there are always at least two sides to every story. -Be as clear as possible about what you would like to see happen (or never happen again) -Try to leave any meeting with some kind of understanding, even if you and the provider agree to disagree, and the child moves on to other care.'' 

As a childcare professional, I know that caregivers level of experience may vary, so please give them the benefit of the doubt and speak to them!

I work at a center that has a policy about changing diapers every two hours. I can assure you that is just posted general minimum guidelines for training staff and substitutes. It does not mean that an infant is sitting in poop for two hours.

Urinary tract infections can also be caused by other things, such as dehydration. Infants may be in childcare 8 hours a day but they are home for 16. It is just as likely that the illness may have started at home.

Infant teachers do come to work at times when they are not feeling 100% out of a sense of duty caring for the group. As infants respond to those they are attached to. It is very hard on most infants to be cared for by a substitute. Neither is it an easy job for a substitute to just walk in and attend to each infant's personal style.

I do hope you find a way to communicate with your child's caregiver, or move on if you can not communicate your issues. Marie


Misgivings about the daycare after the first week

July 2007


I just started sending my 14 months old to his first daycare. It is a small home-based care and usually have 8-9 kids including 2 infants. We just started and today is second day, so I guess it is too early to tell something. But I just talked to my provider on the phone this morning, and can't concentrate on my work since then. I would like to hear any advice from experienced parents.

His first day, yesterday, was okay. My husband and I stayed there for about 30 min, and my kid even smiled and raised his hand when we were leaving. Although he didn't eat much and had slight diarrhea. But today, the provider almost snatched him at the door and wouldn't even let me in. Of course, my son was crying as the door shut closed. After about half an hour, I called the daycare just to see if he is doing okay, not crying so hard. But then the lady almost sounded like preaching me that I am concerned too much and crying is natural and he will be doing the same thing at any place. I totally understand what she said, but the tone of her voice was as if she was really annoyed by my phone call, and I don't know if she gets annoyed so much by a phone call from a concerned first time parents, then how she can handle little kids everyday.

I thought I found the right place, but now everything seemed really bad, like every time I visited the place they were feeding the kids only cereal and milk (even afternoon), and they don't take the kids out for a walk. Should I start looking for another place or wait and see how things are going? Any advice will be sincerely appreciated. Thank you so much.

We have three girls, and although the eldest is now 12, I still regret leaving her in a home daycare where the day care provider rubbed me the wrong way! She, too, seemed to brush off my concerns, and her comments still annoy me to this day. When I compare my feelings about her to the feelings I had with my other two kids' home daycare providers, I am filled with sadness that my eldest did not have the loving and comfortable experience that her sisters had.

If I could do it over again, I would take her out in a second, even if it meant missing a week of work to find another situation! Your daycare provider should have called YOU to tell you that your baby was fine and that you could relax.

Good luck; I do not miss those days at all! Mom of three school-aged kids

The part of your post where you said you were so bothered that you couldn't get any work done really struck a chord with me. Your daycare doesn't understand that their job is not ONLY looking after your child, but also tending to YOUR needs. You are paying for good care for your child AND peace of mind for YOU. You're not getting what you're paying for here.

I don't care if you ARE an anxious, overly nervous, new mom. Is there some other kind? If your daycare can't deliver peace of mind to moms of babies, then they aren't doing their job. Tell them I'm sure you are providing good care for my child, but I am not getting what I need from you, and spell it out for them.

Even though I suspect this caregiver isn't great with the kids either, by putting it this way you avoid feeling like you need to have a lot of evidence against them. You don't need to build a case that they have neglected your child. Find a new daycare. They've failed YOU. And you matter!! Fran

Trust your gut -- look for something else. You are paying this woman to look after your child and communicating effectively and civilly with you is a crucial part of your relationship with her. If it's not working then you will just worry too much and stress yourself out.

Yes, it's normal to cry and your son might take a few weeks to adjust (to any new place) but her attitude seems poor. Also, no walks and cereal in the afternoon? Do the kids get fruit or cheese or bread or other snacks?

A less than great relationship with the provider is enough reason to move on. Anon

You should follow your gut, and it sounds like it says get out. My childs first week at daycare was fantastic, I felt super comfortable with our provider and she never ever had problems with us calling or coming by. Your provider works for you and should be patient and understanding and kind! The food thing is bothersome as well. I've dropped by at different times and homecooked meals and different variety of snacks have been served at our providers. I'd be concerned too!

Please don't let anyone make you feel less for being concerned about your child. You are their only defense system and you can read them better than anyone else. A little time has probably passed since you posted this, so I hope that you've had a few more days to evaluate if this is the daycare for you and your son. Good communication is essential for a daycare. If you feel that that isn't possible, then you should consider changing. Your 14-month old can't communicate with (many) words yet, so you need to look at his indicators and observe how he is being treated.

We were once in a similar situation with our (then) 14-month old daughter and I thought that maybe it was just me, because there were other children there and obviously those parents didn't have issues. But your relationship with the daycare provider is unique and needs to be excellent. Not every parent/child matches up well with the daycare provider. This becomes a fairly close relationship so if the chemistry isn't there and you don't feel comfortable, you should definitely move on.

I think that it is healthy to go inside when you drop off your child. In fact, I still do it with our son's daycare. I go in and hang out for a bit before I leave. He went through a period where he would cry when I left and during that time there were a few occasions where I just dropped him at the door. However, under normal circumstances I always go in and get him settled before I leave. Go with your instincts and act accordingly! JOJ

Two words: CHANGE DAYCARES!! There are so many wonderful childcare environments where you and your child can both feel nurtured. While your baby may continue to cry no matter where you leave him, you should not feel intimidated by your child care provider, rather you should feel confident and taken care of yourself. Remember, this is your baby and you have every right to be on top of whomever is caring for him. There are people out there who know this and would expect nothing different. We have been lucky to find several wonderful situations for both of our children. Good luck! only the best for your child

YES!!!! For sure, absolutely, immediately. I just went through this myself, and if you're already having doubts, it won't get better. I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer here. With your kid it is better for you and everyone involved to feel comfortable. The home daycare we picked first seemed great, but upon closer inspection wasn't what i thought it was. The daycare provider wouldn't let my 5 month old take naps in the morning, insisting that babies had to adjust to the schedule that she set. She got pushy, and didn't listen when it came to my preferences for daytime napping and then tried to swindle us out of our deposit when we chose to go elsewhere. Go with your gut. It's your kid. There is always a reason to have a plan B. Jo

I found your message heartbreaking. Of course, the only information I have is what you stated in your letter, but based on that information I would say switch day care ASAP. My first nanny share situation seemed great beforehand but quickly into it, things didn't seem quite right. We only kept it a month and I wish we had stopped much earlier. Of course, it is heartbreaking to have a baby cry, and sometimes they will and things will settle down in a few days. But you HAVE to have confidence in the provider to help you with this. She doesn't sound like a partner. Perhaps a nanny share would be easy to find on short notice and you might find it is not too much more expensive than day care. Best of luck in your decision. been there

While your daycare provider may be right about how children deal with separation, I would be concerned about the communication style she's setting up. Your ability to communicate openly and effectively with your child's care provider is extremely important. It seems that this person's style is exclusionary to the parent(s), which probably has the effect of making her life easier, but this may continue to be an issue in the long run. Or it may simply be a matter of style, and you two are not a good match communication-wise. The other things you mention -- especially not getting outside -- would worry me too, but it seems that your ability to communicate with her about how your child is doing is paramount in considering whether this is the right provider for your family. Good luck! Another Mom

I strongly encourage all parents to listen to their instincts if something seems wrong. If the daycare doesn't seem right to you, and if you are not comfortable with your child there, you should start looking for another. Lee

Dear First Week, I say go with your gut. This person is being insensitive and rude in my opinion. I'm a first time mama of a 10 month old son. He's be with his in-home daycare provider since he was 4 mos old (found on BPN!) and she let me call, and call, and call those first weeks. She giggled at me, but she had the patience to explain how he was doing, how he was eating, how much he pooped. I was a nervous wreck and thank goodness she understood! Don't ever let anyone snatch your child at the door and slam it!! If this person is brushing you off...what are they doing while your child is their care?

I know it's hard, I often question my own irrationality when it comes to my son. But it's yours, and you have every right to explore it and own it. Don't question ''you'', question ''them'' until you feel better. Or find a person that feels right in your gut. I have a recommendation if you live in the Oakland, Laurel Dist. st

I can't tell you how many times I worried (often over nothing), called, stayed longer in the morning, came back early, asked for reassurances if I had to drive away while my daughter was crying. NOTHING would make the pre-school teacher my daughter had ever use a scolding or insulting tone with me or any of the parents. Even when she had to inform someone of rules, or disagree, there was always a respectful tone. Not to mention, anyone could stay as long as they needed to in the morning (but most were out by circle time so as not to be distracting). Does the teacher seem loving and kind to the kids? I might give it a little time, see how your child seems to feel, soak in your impressions over the course of a week, maybe talk to other parents?? But if you keep feeling bad, trust your instincts. Anon

Go with your gut. It's hard for both the child and parent when the child starts daycare and a good daycare will know this and will help you through the transition as well. My first daycare would call me a minute or so after I left to tell me my son had stopped crying and was doing fine. Most daycares have snacks of fruit and crackers. Cereal sounds not so great to me. I say wait a week or so. If you still have bad feelings and they aren't nicer to you and your child, then take your child somewhere else. You should be allowed to stay with your child for a minute or so before leaving him there. Erg... Andi

I know it's a hassle, but I'd pull your child out of that daycare and find another one. There are many great home based child care facilities in the Bay Area. The fact that this woman would not let you in the front door on day 2 (!) and gave you a hard time for calling is a huge red flag. Your instincts about outdoor play (or lack thereof) and snacks are correct. Most kids need time to adjust to a new arrangement. If the provider won't work with you on this, and tries to make you feel badly about it, then you should take your business and child elsewhere. Kim

Hi - I sympathize with your situation. Trust your gut instincts. I think something seems odd about the daycare situation myself and will likely not change. I say trust your instincts! trust your gut

They sound very unprofessional. I would go with my instincts and look for a more caring environment. anon

I strongly believe you should listen to your gut. Not knowing the specific daycare to which you refer, I can't say definitely whether anything hinky really is going on, but you clearly are not comfortable with this situation, which makes it a bad fit, in my opinion.

Also, just for the record, I have to say that I'd be mighty livid (and suspicious) if I was actually denied entrance to the daycare facility on day 2, with my child snatched away from me and crying. Moreover, when parents call their daycare to check in on their child/voice a concern, I believe they are entitled to have their concerns addressed, not blown off with a condescending and preachy retort. (I think a good daycare staff will even extend a little extra tolerance/hand-holding to first-time parents.) So, yes - if I were in your shoes, I'd start looking for an alternative that makes both you and your child happy. You know what's best for your child. Best of luck to you - I know the transition to daycare is not easy. Feeling for You...

You should feel comfortable about where your child is. If you don't feel you have a positive relationship with the provider, then your child will sense that. It is often harder on a parent then a child to be at day care but the provider should be as empathetic to the parent as they are to the child. I have left my son at two different day cares, we moved so we needed to change and now we are soon starting a thrid, since he is older we are moving him to a large family rather then the small family day care he is at. The new place prefers parents not stay more than 5 minutes at pick up or drop off but we talked about transitioning him with either parent staying about 1/2 to 1 hour on the first day and maybe 30 minutes on the next until we feel he is comfortable. I work full time outside the home and my husband is the one to bring and pick up our son so I have little contact with the day care provider. I plan to call daily and she knows that. If she is not OK with it, we would not put our child there. You have a right to be concerned and all about your son anytime. The other side of the coin though, if she is on the phone, she is not with the children so keep that in mind when you call. Keep questions short and try to call during nap times. Again, bottom line, if you are not comfortable, work it out with her or leave. touchy feeling mom

Your post almost made me cry. That first week is so tough on a mom, and it's mean that your daycare provider isn't sensitive to that. Not sure how you chose that place, but if there are any other good options around I'd consider trying a different one before your child gets all settled in. I had a great feeling about my daycare provider right away and have always felt that my boy is being well taken care of and that my needs are respected (one year later). You deserve the same. Hang in there. Anon

That daycare does not sound like a good place. They should help you with the transition of dealing w/dropping off your sad toddler and they should welcome all calls from you and they should not just be feeding them cereal and milk in the middle of the day. Those are all things that are unexcusable in my book! Dealing with having your toddler at a daycare is hard enough - I've been there - so the place you chose has to be 110% to your liking or else it'll make a difficult situation (dealing w/a sad toddler) that much more difficult for you. Switch. You'll be much happier elsewhere. leslie

It is never easy leaving your child with someone else because noone will take care of your child the way you do. Even with my own mother, I found things to complain about because she didn't do it ''right'' or because that's not what's recommended these days, AND I feel that my mom did an excellent job raising her 6 children. You have to make compromises. I was not thrilled that my son's state-of-the-art brand new daycare facility did not seem to know the very basics of infant feeding and nutrition. For example, they did not know the basics of handling breastmilk, and fed my son foods that were inappropriate for his age. But over all they provided a lot of stimulus and age appropriate and developmental activities, and most importantly, my son was happy (though it did take him a couple of weeks to adjust). So I made compromises because the feeding part, although not ideal, was something I could be vigilant and nag the caregivers about.

Having said this though, please go with your gut feeling. If your instinct is telling you something is not right, there's probably something not right.

It's always tricky to weigh in with only one side of the story, but I will tell you this much. (1) As a ''new'' parent, the caregiver should have been more understanding of your need to check in. My son was having a freak out when I dropped him off one day and an hour later, his daycare called ME to tell me that he was fine and playing with the other infants. (2) If you suspect the children are not receiving their proper meals, ask the caregiver to give you their weekly menu, or to tell you what your child ate that day. They should be ready to communicate this to the parents. Or show up for lunch to volunteer and see what they are serving. (3) My son has been at two daycares, and both were amiable to parents sticking around for as long as the parent felt it was necessary to help the transition.

Another thing is to stop by early during drop off time or pick up time to have a chance to chat with the caregiver because you two also need to get to know each other and get used to the new situation. And if all this still leaves you unconfortable, start your search again and find another daycase. anon

I think you need to have an immediate, frank talk with your daycare provider about your legitimate concerns. If you don't get the kind of timely response and action you want, you should switch providers, and the sooner the better. Transition time is important, communication about your child is important, nutrition and physical exercise are important. Don't settle for less than a great situation for your child. Constance


Daycare letting 6-month-old cry for too long

March 2006


My 6 mo old daughter just started a new daycare 3 weeks ago. It's a great place- very developmentally focused: in just four days there, she went from a floppy bassinette baby to sitting up well on her own, playing alone for 15-20 minutes, with excellent manual dexterity.

As early as day 2, though, the provider was complaining about the amount that my daughter wants to be held. Monday, she left her to cry most of the day, the longest uninterrupted stretch was 45 minutes. Tuesday, my daughter slept ALL day.

Early Wednesday morning, I ended up with my daughter at hospital: turns out she had an ear infection, and was in pain on Monday.

It really bothers me that the care provider is so inflexible about picking up my daughter and holding her. The other children at the daycare have been there a long time, and are securely attached. Even the provider's supervisor thought that 45 minutes crying was excessive. Yet this place is good developmentally...

I am trying to decide whether to switch my daughter now, or stick it out another couple of months until my daughter is crawling and more independent? Advice? Torn

My heart goes out to your child. I don't think I would want to stay at a day care like that. What if it had been more life-threatening? 45 minutes seems like a long long time to me. If I knew this was happening at my son's daycare, I couldn't keep him there. I wouldn't worry too much about teaching your child to sit up etc. I think a lot of day cares will do this. I would want a place where my child felt loved and secure. Good luck

In the couple of weeks since this post was submitted, we stuck it out with the crying daycare. One day, quite by accident, the provider discovered that my daughter loves it in the high chair. She flips out when she's on the floor for playtime for more than 15 mintues but she's peachy in the high chair, playing and watching everything from above. No problems, no crying for a week! cate

Find a new day care. It is not ok to let a 6 month old in a new environment cry it out. 6 month olds like (need) to be held. Find a smaller facility, even a home day care that is more inclined to give more personal care. Poor baby, and she was ill....... I'm sickened to hear that they treated your baby that way. anon

I would listen to your instincts and find another daycare. You are paying for the care provider to care for your child, and in my opinion leaving a baby to cry for 45 minutes is absolutely UNACCEPTABLE-would you continue to use a babysitter who let your child do this? Also, it seems as if you started this daycare right before your child turned 6 months old-most babies learn to sit at this age- it most likely has NOTHING to do with the daycare. Honestly, if the care provider won't even pick up your CRYING child, I would doubt she is spending much time interacting with her when she is happy. K

A 6 month old doesn't want to ''play'' on their own for long stretches of time, what they really need (and want) is to have interaction with adults. They naturally want to be held and interacted with. This is how they learn about the world around them. Sitting on their own for long stretches of time without interacting with others is not a stimulating environment for them. And playing isn't going to happen until they are much older. If the daycare can't provide it, I would find another. Or if you can, try to do a nanny share where there is more intimate involvement. This is a critical growth period for your child and they need to be with someone that will give them physical touch constantly and loving contact. A loving nanny who can devote her energy to him/her would probably be a better option! kim

Your saying that the place is great seems mainly to be based on the fact that in a week she went from being a floppy bassinette baby to sitting up and playing--but that would have happened anyway! If they are complaining about holding your baby, they are not great! Try to find something else! It is one thing for them not to hold your baby as much as you, the mom, would, but for them to complain to you about it is really a red flag to me that they do not think babies need that much attention and I don't see how they could be as ''developmental'' as you say. get that baby out of there

I personally wouldn't care about how ''developmentally'' advanced a child care center was if it wasn't grounded in love and understanding. Your baby is only 6 months old! A little early in my opinion to trade development for basic infant needs. The provider should have understood that some babies just need to be held and coddled and protected... that transitions are hard on babies, too. 45 minutes is excessive... plus she was actually in pain, which makes it even worse. I think you will never be able to get past this in your own head, even if you stay with them... it will always bother you, and isn't the best way to start a caregiver relationship. I say get out! anon

I bet you're going to get a lot of responses to this one, because it certainly struck a chord in me. I think it's very strange, and not a good sign, that the daycare provider would complain that your baby needs to be held a lot when she's at a brand new place. It makes total sense to me that on her very 1st day there she would want to be held a lot, and the provider should expect that. I also don't think it's appropriate to let a baby cry for 45 minutes w/o holding her. It's interesting that the supervisor thought 45 minutes was excessive -- did she tell the provider?

My personal philosophy is that at 6 mos, what's most important developmentally is to be loved and held and cared for. If the provider can't give your daughter that, what's so great about this place? (And I'm not a total attachment parenting afficionado by any means, just fyi).

That said, I also know it's not that easy to find great day care. I've made a few compromises to keep my daughter at a place that overall I like. So maybe you could stick it out a couple more weeks and see if your daughter seems to be happy there. You mention waiting until she's more independent in a few months, but given my experience I don't think at 9 mos she's suddenly going to become more independent; she'll still be a little baby who will still need care, and hopefully she'll be with a provider who can give it to her without resentment. I wish you the best of luck. anon

I would run as fast as I could!!!!!!!!!! I feel awful on behalf of your baby that a childcare provider- a stranger still to her- let her cry all day. I don't mean to be alarmist but it sounds almost like child abuse to me. This place is not so great developmentally if they think it is strange that your 6 month old wants to be held alot. Don't they all???? concerned mother of 2

You say this daycare is ''developmentally focused''? I can't think of anything a 6-month-old baby needs for her development more than to be soothed, held and loved when she needs it most. If it were me, I would run -- not walk -- away. A baby holder

You know what? You need to go with your gut feeling. Don't worry about how ''good'' this place is developmentally. It doesn't matter at this point; your daughter will hit her milestones with or without learning them at daycare. I would be much more concerned about the lack of physical contact your baby is experiencing and how THAT is going to affect her development in the long run. At the least, YOU are probably going to have a hard time getting your work done, thinking about how your kid is doing, hoping she's getting attention, etc. 6-month-olds should not be left to cry for 45 minutes without being comforted. In the Bay Area we are so lucky to have lots of caring providers and daycare situations that nurture children. You can do better than where you currently are! empathetic mom

You'll get a million posts on this, but I have to add my two cents. The situation your child is in sounds really bad and I hope you can move her elsewhere soon. Anyone who is not willing to be responsive to a child's cries or need to be held (after two days away from mommy for the first time, for crying out loud!) should not be working in childcare. And if your child did make developmental leaps as she was starting daycare (which I'm sure she would have made anywhere--they can't ''teach'' her to sit up, she just becomes ready to do so), those new experiences could make her fussy and clingy, as any halfway decent care provider should know. I'll tell you, if my child appears even slightly under the weather, her care providers are on the phone to us, suggesting we take her in to the doctor. You can definitely find better care. Best of luck, outraged on your behalf

Personally, I think that the daycare provider does not sound great at all. Babies need to be held. In a few months she'll be crawling all around and won't need it so much, but she does need it at this age. You say you like the provider because it's ''developmentally-focused,'' which I find curious because most babies don't really need much help (other than attention!) to develop - they do develop in spurts which is why your baby has changed so much recently - it is not because of any special training the daycare is providing. I would switch daycare providers as soon as you can, and would not return. anonymous

Honestly, from what you described, that daycare sounds awful developmentally. Your provider should know that it is not good for your baby's development to cry alone for 45 minutes (especially when pain might be an issue!). I'm sorry to be so blunt, but I'd get my child out of her care. Now. concerned by what I read

I think it would be best to switch to a small daycare where your daughter can be held when she needs to be held. To me, it's a no-brainer. It is developmentally INappropriate not to respond to a crying baby and not to hold her if that's what she needs. At this stage, I'd focus on her emotional needs; she will roll around and crawl and walk where ever she is. All I wanted for my child at that stage was a loving person who would hold and love him. Later, when she's close to a year, you can either return to the current place or find a place where there are fewer little ones or more adults available AND more empathy. My Two Cents Worth

You say this daycare is good developmentally, doesn't really sound like it to me. A 6-month old baby may go through periods where she simply needs to be held more (even without the ear infection to boot!) and I would be very uncomfortable leaving my baby at a place where this basic and important need could not be met. Obviously they have other kids to take care of and can't hold your baby all the time but 45 minutes of crying?? I'd be upset. It is just as important to ''development'' that babies feel safe and comforted as it is for them to be guided to meet their milestones (which they will do when they are ready anyways). hold those babies!

Switch daycares. Who cares if it's supposedly developmentally appropriate? Your daughter would have learned to sit and play on her own -- but you don't want her to learn that no one comes when she's in pain and crying out for comforting. Anyway, I *don't* think it's developmentally sound to let a baby cry for 45 minnutes straight ... IMO

It makes me sad that your daughter was left to cry. I don't like that at all. Switch her to a more nurturing center! Feeling safe is part of developmental stimulation. It sounds like you agree in your gut to have posted. Let us know what you decide. anon


Daycare is sending 6-month-old home for crying

Feb 2006


my daycare provider has sent my 6 month old home several times now for being too fussy. He has been great at daycare up until this week and now all of a sudden he is just crying a lot, and not wanting to eat. When I bring him home he acts perfectly fine though. My question is 1.any advice on how to get my son to settle down at daycare? 2. is it okay for the daycare provider to repeatedly send home your child home if she feels he is too fussy, but still charge you for full time care? I can't keep taking off work so I am desperate for any and all advice on this matter. Thanks for your help.

Find another daycare. This one sounds horrible for your child. I have never heard of a daycare doing this, btw. wouldn't tolerate it

Something is happening at day care that is making your child unhappy to the point of tears. If the teacher(s) aren't able to pick up on what it is, and simply want to send your child home rather than work to make a change, perhaps this isn't the best place for your child. It isn't professional by any standard to send a difficult child home! Ask them, if you decide to stay, to keep a written log of your child's day. They'll balk and say they don't have time/staff, but they do. A small notebook (you can provide) in an apron or pants pocket can be whipped out and scribbled in (no major entries) every half hour or even just for the hour or so leading up to the usual crying time. Another thing might be to try calling just before the difficult part of your child's day and see what they are up to. Something is triggering it. Is it nap? Is it a staff change (am teacher goes home?) A strange parent or teacher is present? Children don't just burst into tears for no reason, it will take some detective work, but once you identify the problem you will also see a solution. Best of luck! Ex-preschool teacher

you would have to pay for full time if you are signed up, reserved space for full time; however I am comparing to child missing school due to illness, family vacation, or even a DRASTIC behavioral incident. Your situation sounds very concerning- I don't understand fussing too much as a legitimate reason to send a child home unless they clearly seemed to be coming down with a cold. The daycare provider is supposed to be providing care- helping soothe, figure out what's going on. I would seriously wonder whether they are overly stressed and not providing healthy stimulation for the babies- do they prefer to keep them in swings for too long? well a lot of questions come to mind but in short babies cry and those who cry a lot are communicating something- any number of things- and I would have more questions to your provider why ''too much'' crying is reason to be sent home (from what you've said I don't think you should have to pay- it sounds to me like daycare provider is stressed out and sending your child home for her own convenience)and what they think may be going on, what they think he needs, etc... good luck C.

You need to find a new daycare right away. These people are supposed to be professionals and be expert at caring for infants -- even difficult ones. Can you imagine if your doctor said to you ''You're too sick, I can't handle it, go home.'' Or if you said to your boss or a client, ''This is too difficult, I can't do it. Only give me easy assignments.'' The only time a baby should be sent home is if it is sick -- fever, runny nose, etc. And it doesn't sound like your baby is sick. When you look for a new daycare, look for one with a low caregiver ratio (3 babies per caregiver), with low turnover of staff, and where at least a few members of the staff have several years of experience. A good daycare/caregiver should be offering YOU advice on how to deal with a cranky baby, based on their years of experience with all sorts of babies.

That's not okay. If your baby is fine at home but crying too much there, it seems to me that it's an indication that something is amiss at your daycare. I would switch. anon


Little things at daycare center are bothering me

Feb 2004


I am in the midst of a daycare dilemma and I don't know how to proceed.

My son is four months old and has been in daycare for three weeks now. He attends a childcare center MWF and I work from home T/TH with him by my side.

Little things I have noticed at the center bug me and have set off my ''mother's instinct.'' I can't flat out say they are abusing my child, but it is little things like: one primary provider not knowing my sons name (if you don't know who he is, then how do you feed him the right bottles?), their use of the baby swing as a cure all, and their attempt to feed my son whenever he gets fussy instead of soothing, letting him play. The just don't seem to know our son and their attitude has been that this is what I can expect since he is in a Center environment. Twice I have picked him up with dried spit up all over his clothes. When I pointed it out, they hadn't even realized he had spit up. Also the area that is supposed to have been ''his'' crib always seems to have other childrens linens in it. It is things like that...nothing blatant, but alarming to me all the same.

I have also come to notice the condition of the other kids and their parents. I can't tell if I am being an educated snob or attentive parent....a few of the kids are WAY behind developmentally for example. The parents are young (which is not a crime I know;I am young-ish) but they seem more interested in their fingernails and talking about their ''babies daddy's'' than the welfare of their children. Many of the toddlers have a negative energy that I just don't want my son exposed to. One has apparently taken to knocking my son over.

Bottom line is that I don't think he belongs there. I did all my homework and thought I found a nice place. I was mistaken.

My dilemmas:

Am I being over-sensitive? My hubby seems lukewarm about moving our son. He worries about the financial end of it all. But he has never done the pick-up and drop-off due to his work schedule. The director of the center is a warm woman with a strong personality and I truly believe she would write my concerns off as a newbie mom.

If I decide to move our son, the nearest availabilty at a quality daycare wouldn't be until December. What do I do until then? I worry that finding some other place so quickly will be traumatic on my son--especially since he will be heading to Montessori in Decemeber (hopefully).

To make matters more complicated, we live in Fairfield. We moved here last year since homes are cheaper, relatively, and because my hubby works in the East Bay and I work in Davis. Fairfield seemed like a decent stop in between. But now that we have a child, I am finding the entire community to be less than what I had hoped. Not many places even have childcare here. And Davis has childcare waiting lists that back into 2005.

What should I do? We can't live on just my husbands income. I am not getting any work done when I am at work, since I am constantly worried about my son. Grandma works and my husbands parents are not an option as help either.I have called/visited many home based daycares and have been constantly disappointed.

I don't think I have unrealistic expectations. I just want a quality daycare where my son can grow and where I know he will be safe and happy.

Any ideas or thoughts greatly appreciated.

I think you should follow your instincts and take your son out of the day care. A friend of mine took day care provider classes and has since had a thriving at-home daycare business. Previously, she had a career she enjoyed, but wanted to be with her child more. Although it's not perfect, no job is, but with this one, she can make money and be with her children, as now she has two kids, and has been doing it for about 9 years. She has never said to me that she wishes she didn't choose this route.

You sound like a loving, smart, caring person who would probably be great at it. It also sounds like your town could use another daycare provider choice. Plus if you decide you don't like it, you can always get another job, you can't retrieve this precious time you have with your kid. I think you should look at this as an opportunity, a door that has been open for you. It's true that being a mom is the toughest job, but it's also the most rewarding.

By taking these daycare classes, and by providing daycare, you will learn so much and you'll get to help other moms who are in your position now. Lastly, think about what having a job really costs you in clothing, dry cleaning, gas, car- maintenance, daycare, lunches out, plus stress, which spills over to your spouse and child. Another idea I just thought of: If you have a skill, maybe you could offer community center class(es). an opportunity awaits

Others may disagree, but my advice is: GET YOUR BABY OUT OF THERE. Your intuition is more likely than not right on the money, and the examples you give of why you're worried sound like real issues to me. I don't think you're being oversensitive -- this is a 4 month old we're talking about, not a 4 year old who would be in a much better position (relatively speaking) to take care of himself. A 4 month old is very vulnerable, and it sounds like there are a lot of warning signs at this place. Have you looked into doing a nanny-share? When I researched it, they weren't that much more expensive than daycare, though I was looking in Oakland, not Fairfied. It's a long time till December, which I know might be hard finan! cially, but this is your baby. Waiting till December to move him doesn't sound like a great idea. I'd do whatever I could to find an alternative. Good luck to you. anon

It sounds like you have very legitimate concerns and are not in a high-quality daycare situation. I would definitely start looking around for something else. A good daycare situation not only provides attentive, nurturing, loving care for your baby, but also support for you as a new (and sometimes nervous) working mom. Maybe you should consider a family, home-based daycare if there are no high-quality centers in your area. You should call Bananas in Oakland, which can offer advice on what to look for in a daycare setting. You might also call AOCS in Oakland -- it is a wonderful childcare center. 510-261-1076 -- ask for Claire or Liisa. While it is probably not at all convenient for you, taking a tour of AOCS could give you a better understanding of what to look for in childcare. And Claire and Lii! sa are always happy to offer advice. Good luck!

Judging by what you have described, it absolutely does not sound like you are needlessly worrying. There could be no excuse for a caretaker not knowing your child's name, unless maybe it was her few days there. I assume that they demand that you label and date any bottles or food, binkies, etc. that you bring in for your child. And they should be keeping your child reasonably clean (at least of things like vomit and any other bodily fluid!). If that is not happening, then that means that those fluids are around the facility, possibly in reach of other crawling babies, etc. (At ours, any time a baby spits up and it lands anywhere other than the baby, it is immediately cleaned up with a disinfectant.) Some places differ in philosophy about the mess of food, and wearing bibs... but still. Th! ey should ask you for add'l sets of clothes and should be changing your baby into clean ones if he gets wet or messy.

I'm not sure how you know that they try to feed him rather than sooth him in ways that you're more comfortable with (do they actually tell you that?). That could be a stylistic difference, (and I've noticed that that approach can be a cultural one), but it is not typically the approach of most reputable daycares, or for that matter, pediatricians. I know at our daycare they do not allow baby swings or bouncy chairs, or anything that allows a caretaker to just put the child in a restrained device that could promote ignoring them. It's a safety concern as well as a child development philosophy. The babies are either held, or when that is not possible due to the demands of other children, they are either given ''tummy time'' on a mat on the floor, or put in a large, raised crib (only one child at a time). The ratio of caregiver to children of this age is roughly 1:3 or 1:4, depending on the day (and ! even that doesn't seem enough sometimes when you want your child to be held as much as possible!)

Anyway, I believe you're right to consider removing him. Don't worry about his transition, he probably has not had a chance to bond with anyone there yet, and besides, he's young enough that it won't ultimately matter. I know the options are expensive, and apparently there isn't much choice in the way of daycare centers where you are. Have you tried asking (on UC Parents) for recommendations for other daycares in your area? There may be some smaller family place that you may not already know about. If you only need to find something until December, is it possible to hire a nanny until then? They can be expensive, but I often hear of people who pay/charge under $11/hour. If someone comes to your house you could have a much better idea of what's going on (if you're able to separate yourself enough to get work done - and that can be tricky). A cheaper solution would be a! nanny share, finding someone who will take care of both your baby and someone else's, at either house. This made us very nervous when our daughter was that age, but from what I read on this site LOTS of people do it and are very happy with their arrangements. You could probably expect to pay about 2/3 of a full rate, it seems. Either way, it's probably a financial hit in comparison with a daycare, but I think you're right - something is not quite right with the practises you describe at your present daycare. I would feel the same as you do.

Best of luck! Anon in Oakland

Given your expectations I think what you probably need to do is hire a nanny. anon

The only regret I have with my son, now 9, is that I left him in a childcare facility that I did not feel good about for too long. Your child is so young - I know that it seems impossible to get by, but I would strongly suggest at least considering keeping her at home for just a few more months. I work with young children in schools, and I see the difference that being with a parent can make. This would give you more time to investigate other possibilities. Is there a chance that your husband could bring her into town, where there might be more options? Or that a mother's helper would allow you to go in for a few hours to do some work? This is time that can never be recaptured, and it passes very quickly. The sacrifices that we make when they're small seem to really pay off in spades later. Feel free to answer back if you want to have a dialogue about this.. kim

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. If you think something is wrong, it probably is (and the things you mention aren't little things). Keeping in mind that you have few choices (I know some folks will tell you things that realistically won't work), can you take some time under the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (''FMLA'') and watch your child while you assess another daycare facility? What about using this site to find a ''nanny share'' situation? What about your partner? Can he/she help with the childcare situation for a short time, perhaps using the FMLA or vacation. What a! bout a friend? Can you pay someone you trust to watch your child? If none of these options work for you, then I would have a very serious conversation with the daycare provider. If she's tries to pull the ''new-mom-itis'' stuff on you, tell her that regardless of her opinion, dried spit-up, wrong bed linens, and workers not knowing your child's name is unacceptable. Let her know that you understand some slips but that if you continue to see similar irregularities, you will pull your child and report your findings to the regulatory agency that certifies her center for a full investigation. If her establishment is reputable, she will take your concerns completely seriously and make certain that the workers who are responsible for the mishaps are fired. If she runs a shoddy location, she'll see this as a tremendous threat and you'll know you're doing the right thing by ! getting your child out. good luck

Bottom line with childcare, particularly before they can talk, is that you have to feel comfortable. I'm a pretty particular parent, and have opinions about what should be done & how. For young babies, you need to remember that daycare means that not every baby can be held every moment, which means that possibly a baby may cry for a little bit. That said, you sound uncomfortable. And the daycare providers generally are comfortable doing things their way (and I discovered, since I was home with my child for a while, that I had opinions about many things, and some providers were uncomfortable with my opinions and had an easier time w/ parents who just appreciated somebody taking care of their baby and ''teaching'' them how to do it. Don't bother analyzing everything-ask yourself ! how you feel. Financials are important, but your baby is only a baby for a short time. Everything is a compromise, but you must feel comfortable with your daycare provider, otherwise you add stress to your life--even if everything is fine. Check out all your options, then choose the best one for you. Check out Davis options too, if your husband is willing to do day care dropoff/pickup. You'll find something to your liking, but EVERY situation will have some quirks. find the quirks that work for you. anon

I don't mean to alarm you, but get your child out of that center. I have run a daycare for over eleven years, and I go to extreme lengths (and make sure my employees do as well) to ensure the bottles are marked with permanent marker so they cannot be mixed up. As I am sure you know, infections such as Thrush on the tongue and not to name allergic reactions from drinki! ng the wrong formula can occur and cause pain and misery. Each child's linen is kept strictly in their own playpen etc. We are careful of SIDS, and check the babies to make sure they are breathing etc. Sounds like your child is being neglected. Not just physically, but emotionally too. Contact the local child care referral agency in your area, as well as Contra Costa County to find a new place. Even if you have to out of your way, or pay a little more, it must be worth your peace of mind. In the meantime have a serious conversation with the owner and tell her your concerns. As a parent, you have the right to do that. Anon

I do not think that you are overreacting. You however need to find a way to follow those instincts and make it all work for you. You are correct about a move being hard on your child especially since you plan to move him ! to another school in December. The problem is that if you do not feel adequate care is being given then you have a problem. The first step to take would be to talk to the Director and see if you can talk to one another in an open way where the school doesn't feel attacked and you do not feel belittled for being a first time mother. I was a teacher of young children for 15 years and I think the best thing is always to have open communication between families and teachers.They should be doing a better job about taking care of your child. You should not feel guilty about that. Those little details are what makes it possible for you to concentrate at work and so those are the ones you need to address. I do not think they are little things. I currently run a business where I help families find childcare and preschool settings for their children. I go to all the schools myself and spend lots of time there investigating the ! care they give and how they run the place. Then I get information from the parents as to what they are looking for and so attempt to find situations where everyone will be pleased. The main thing I tell parents is that the place you pick for your child has to be a place you feel comfortable with all around. This place becomes your child's second home in away. You have to visit lots of places in order to compare the various ways people care for children.There are a lot of great schools out there. Remember you have to be able to know they are well cared for so you can concentrate on your work. If talking to the school does not work you could get a part-time nanny until you get to your next school. We all have to think about the money thing but the truth is that if we put our mind to it we can make things work one way or another in order to get our piece of mind. I would be willing to give you more suggestions via e! -mail or by phone. Feel free to contact me. martha


Are these daycare policies reasonable?

Aug 2003


I just placed my 13-month-old in a home daycare center for 2 full days a week. As our former part-time nanny gave us a short notice and I'm expecting another child very soon, I unfortunately had to choose a daycare center without doing as much research as I would have liked. The home daycare center I chose came highly recommended by my former nanny, and after visiting, I felt confident in the high quality of care my child would receive there, and that my child would be happy there. However, I wasn't quite comfortable with several of its policies, which I'm listing below. It may very well be due to my inexperience with how home daycare centers are typically run in this area. Could you please advise? There is a possibility that we may go to full time, 5 days a week at this daycare. Thank you.

- If I take my child out for a dr.'s appointment in the middle of the day, I should not bring her back to daycare for the rest of the day.

- I need to bring in my child into daycare no later than 9am (in particular, this conflicts with my child's morning gym/play class for which she is already pre-registered).

- When I asked about visiting, I was told visiting times were always at a certain time on certain (2) days.

- We need to pay for staff's two weeks' vacation time per year, as well as holidays. We also pay for any other days when the child cannot come, eg. sick days or family vacation time. anon

Hi, Most of the policies seem normal to me, with the big exception being limits on visiting times. I believe that by state law you have the right to drop in at any time. Check with Bananas, I'm sure they'll be able to tell you. GOod luck -same rules at our preschool

Frankly, all of those policies seem reasonable to me. We had our daughter in a wonderful home daycare for 2 years, and it had very similar policies. Perhaps your daycare (like ours) is run similar to a preschool, with a fairly scheduled day, including circle time, art projects, etc. It can be disruptive to the other kids, and difficult for your child, if they arrive in the middle of things, and can throw off nap schedules too. Taking a child out for a doctors appointment and then bringing them back can also be very tough. We tried to schedule doctors appointments for the end of the day, or first thing in the morning (we could bring her in late on rare occasions). As for paying for vacation (yours and theirs) and sick days, our daycare's policy was to pay the same amount every month, year round, regardless of vacations, holidays, sick days, etc. It seems only fair - these providers count on the year round income. Particularly if your child is there full time. Our daughter left daycare at the end of July and we even paid an additional 1/2 month for the two week vacation in August - it just didn't seem right that we should leave without paying for their vacation, when we had been there the rest of year. e.

Not all daycare centers have the rules you have listed. I think the important thing is, if their particular rules don't work for you, you need to find someplace new. The daycare that my son attended for 2+ years (before he started preschool) did not. With the exception of the vacation and sick days. Most daycares and preschools will require that you pay for care even if you can't come in (due to illness/vacation). Since you are part time, you shouldn't have to pay for the entire two weeks that the staff is on vacation, only for the days that your child would have normally attended. A good tip (if you're part time) is to not sign your child up for Mondays. Many holidays fall on Mondays and you'll end up having to pay for them when they're closed. As far as the dr's appointments, I had always found that it was easier to do those very early or late so you can drop your child off late or pick him/her up early. I tried it once in the middle of the day and had a hard time dropping my son off again. He was confused and thought that when I picked him up, we would be together for the rest of the day. If your child has a morning committment that will mean you can't drop him off until after 9am, see if you can work something out. If not, maybe this is not the daycare for you. If you're looking for recommendations of a new daycare, the one my son attended was Sundance Day Care in Oakland. The owner's name is Tae. Her # is 839-6449. We loved it there. Good Luck! Nancy

Most of the policies sound about right, a bit strict, but O.K.. For example the reason they may want all of the kids there by 9am, is that children form connections in the morning and children who arrive late are usally left out of the play by the other children.My child is in U.C. Childcare, and they are ''strongly encouraged'' to be there by 9:30am. However, there is no cut off. Also, some children have problems adjusting to coming back to care if they are taken out in the middle of the day. I don't pay for childcare so I can't tell you about those policies. The one thing that sounds a bit off, is the visiting thing. At my daughters school they have an open door policy, which means we can come when ever we like and are encouraged to do so. If they want to know when you will be coming, you may want to ask yourself why? I have a friend who had her child in a home daycare with similar policies and as it turned out, the main provider would take a nap when the kids slept leaving them unsupervised. Good luck. childcare mom

Two thoughts: one, you have the right to visit your kid's daycare any time you want to. State law. If they won't let you come in when you show up, I'd 1) yank your kid out of there ASAP and 2) file a complaint with the state licensing people.

On the vacation front, though: gee, I get a paid vacation, I expect you do, too -- why shouldn't your daycare provider? Isn't she (or he) a professional who provides a valuable service? Also, if the daycare provider gets some time off, s/he is less likely to crack and start beating on the kids (GRIN). Shoot, I *want my daycare provider to have vacation time! Sara

I must say, none of those policies seem terribly out of whack (when I was doing research, I found a wide range of policies on each of those topics), but having said that, at the family daycare we chose:

- there is no late dropoff cutoff. However, we try to get our daughter there by 9, just as a courtesy; if we're going to be later than that, I usually call them, just to let them know.

- again, there is no restrictions on visiting, but at the same time, they're pretty protective of their schedules, and not disrupting the kids, so it can be awkward if we do show up in the middle of the day. They have a separate porch, and usually make us wait out there and bring our child out, rather than letting us in to the play room or nap room.

- as far as paid vacation, our daycare takes a week out of each year for their vacation, and we don't pay that week. But, we do pay for anytime we don't use thier services, if we go on vacation, or doctor appointments, or sick days, etc. We generally end up taking vacation the same week they do, so we don't run into time where we have no daycare.

I know there are more stringent places than ours out there too.. if you really like the place (and your child does too), it might be worth trying to work with them. But do what feels comfortable to you, especially if you plan on a long term relationship! anon

My two children were in daycare from infancy until they went off to kindergarten and, for what it's worth, here's my take your daycare's policies:

It's fair to ask you not to bring your child back after a doctor's appointment--it can be confusing and difficult for a child to come back to daycare after being picked up once already. Being utterly consistent is really comforting and makes it easier for when you do drop her of each day.

A consistent time for drop-off (9 am in your case) is also a fair request. It's disruptive to the group to have kids coming in at all different times and makes planning tough for the caregivers. Again, a consistent routine is best for your child.

Limiting visiting times to certain days and times is completely unreasonable to me. You should be able to drop in to visit with no notice at any time. Yes, this may be disruptive and hard for their planning, but it is a safety issue. I'm wondering if limiting visits to only pre-set days/times is even legal. I can see if they require advance notice, but I would feel a lot more comfortable with a no- notice-needed policy, especially at a home care.

Paying for caregivers vacations is fair. These people are generally underpaid, undervalued, hard-working and incredibly loving. If, over time you still feel the caregivers don't deserve this benefit, you might consider moving your child to a place where you like the caregivers so much you do feel this way. As for paying for when your child is sick, they have to have staff to cover even so, so it's fair to expect this.

Sad to say, daycare in this area is extremely expensive, just like everything else. But the peace of mind you get from a good caregiver is absolutely priceless. Good luck! Joan

I would call Bananas and ask them, as they know what is and isn't legal. My understanding was that by State law a parent has the right to drop in any time unannounced. My daycare also has the in by 9a policy, as they say it disrupts the flow of the day to have them come in any later, but they have been flexible as long as the kids are fed when dropped off. I've been dropping him off at 9:30-9:45am, and have been told that with a days notice they would be ok with me dropping him off even later.

Paying for holidays, family vacation and sick days is standard procedure. If a child is sick a lot and doesn't pay, or you decide to go on a 2 week trip, it's not fair to the daycare who is holding your spot and unable to give it anyone else. anon

I'm sending my son to a home daycare that I absolutely love -- it's wonderful for both me and him. And the only one of those policies it has is the last one: 2 weeks vacation for them, all federal holidays off, and I pay even when my son is sick. That policy seems entirely reasonable to me: these people are professionals, and so should have holidays and vacation just like the rest of us; and they need to be able to plan and staff their center, as well as have a steady paycheck, so I simply pay a flat fee per month, regardless of sick days, my vacation, or whatever. I would certainly not like my income to be dependent on how sickly a child was, or how much vacation other people took.

Of the other policies, the first two seem pretty inflexible, and the one regarding ''visiting days'' makes me downright uncomfortable -- I would want to be able to visit whenever. Karen

1) I can understand if the daycare folks PREFER that you not bring your child back. They may want to minimize confusion for your child. I'm not sure I would want to put my child back in after a DR. appt. But I don't know that it should be a POLICY, per se. I would inquire further about their rationale. If it's a preference, then I'd feel ok with it. If it's a hard and fast rule, I wouldn't feel so great about it.

2) Again, the before 9 am may be a PREFERENCE and I would inquire further. Do they have things planned? Is there a schedule that they don't want your child to miss out on? If so, great. But would it really be so bad if your child was late? I often bring my child in after 9 am! And home daycares are usually chosen for their flexibility! Maybe you could talk more specifically with them to arrange when your child would/would not conflict with their schedule and see if that's ok.

3) Wow, the restricted visiting thing really pisses me off. You, as a parent, have EVERY RIGHT TO VISIT THE DAYCARE AT ANY TIME YOU CHOOSE! There is even a form that you fill out that they should give you, if they are a proper, licensed facility, that states your rights as a parent. Some daycares may PREFER that you visit at certain times, and if so they should make CLEAR WHY THEY HAVE THIS PREFERENCE. But you have a LEGAL RIGHT AS THE PARENT to enter the childcare facility at any time. And as a parent, you would want to do this to see what is happening in the home. Not only at designated times when they can put on a show for you!!! I pulled my 2 year old daughter out of a daycare that practically shut the door on me to keep me from seeing what was going on inside. I don't think it was anything bad; they just PREFERRED that I let my daughter get used to the place on her own. But I defended my right and let them know I thought what they were doing was wrong!

4) Yes, if it is a regular daycare and not a drop-in center, it is normal to pay for days you're not there and vacations. (Can you imagine running a daycare dependent only on when the kids could make it? The staff show up every day rain or shine.) k.

The policy about establishing a particular time and day to visit is a no-no. You have to be able to walk in at any time and have a look around, and while they might find that inconvenient, I believe it is a legal issue. The ''no arriving after 9'' thing and the ''don't bring her back after a doctor's appointment'' thing are both permissible, I think, but rather mean-spirited. It seems as if there should be some bend there, especially if it's a small home daycare. But that's their perogative, to set up those kinds of limitations. And finally about the money. We paid for daycare all year (including holidays and vacations). This struck me as a lot of money at the time, but I actually think it's fair. This is the livelihood of the caregiver, and caregivers need holidays and vacations like everyone else. My caregiver got this support from me and I'm glad we were able to support her in this way. former home daycare user

I run a small family home daycare (6 children; 2 providers) and we charge for one week's vacation (but in the future I can see us charging for 2 weeks). We also get paid for all holidays and do not rebate money when a child does not attend because they are sick (or decide to sah with mom or dad). We have no way to fill the opening and we feel that we are just as worthy of vacation time as anyone else in a job with benefits. We simply make our own benefits. :) I would say that at least one week is standard in the industry.

Now, as for doctor's appointments, unless your child meets the DCP's guidelines for exclusion (for sickness), I cannot fathom WHY your child would not be allowed to return after a doctor's appointment. I'm sure they have a reason; did you ask why?

We are VERY flexible with our start and end times, so while I can't comment on not being able to bring your child after 9am for another center, I personally find it terribly rigid.

The visiting policy is an enormous red flag for me. I encourage parents to visit at any time, and as a matter of fact, will call them to encourage them to visit if we're near their work (at a playground or something). It usually makes leaving (parent leaving child) hard, but IMO, the child benefits more from the connection with their parent than from the parent leaving. Yeah, it is harder work for me, but the point is, what is best for the child. :)

I don't think you can research DCP's stringently enough; I would call the licensing board to check on any complaints, I would ask to see their DOJ fingerprinting results as well as First Aid and CPR certifications.

I have a link on my site with lots of questions to ask - here it is and good luck! Kathy

My two-year-old is enrolled in an excellent daycare center and they have some similar policies. The restriction concerning drop-off times is imposed because the other children can become upset as new arrivals come and then cry as their parents leave. The center tries to limit this stressful time by requiring arrivals during certain hours.

This daycare also tries to ensure decent working standards by providing vacation times for the head teachers. Teachers' aids are paid by the hour, however. For a more stable budget situation, they also require a contract that guarantees the amount you pay regardless of actual attendance for which you receive in return a guaranteed space for a certain number of hours per week.

The restriction on visiting hours seems unusual. anon

I find all but your last item to be unreasonable. At my son's daycare, we bring or pick him up as we need to. A doctor's appointment early or late does not prevent us from bringing him late or taking him back. If we do not arrive before 9 am, he doesn't get breakfast; since no one in my family is a morning person, including my 2-year old, we simply skip breakfast a lot at daycare and eat at home instead. Limiting times to drop by also seems strange. The only thing that seems standard to me is to pay a monthly and steady rate regardless of holidays, your family vacation time, etc. You are paying to have someone committed to care for your child whether or not you actually go every day or attend all hours; the staff definitely needs a two week paid break. If I were you, I would ask the daycare staff why they have these policies. My advice is that you should then get reasonable and detailed answers to your questioning of their policies that you can live with or you should find another daycare. KB

The policy regarding vacation and holiday pay is pretty standard, but I would have a major problem with the other policies you mentioned. They are very unreasonable and should raise a red flag. The one about the doctor appt. and the ''in by 9:00'' policy are simply annoying and inconvenient, but the one about visiting times is very suspicious. A good daycare center, home-based or othrewise, should let you visit anytime, unannounced, without hesitation. If the place you are talking about is Higher Reach/Wee Care, please email me and I will be happy to share my experience. tracy

Your note raises a serious red flag regarding the visiting policy. Please check this link to the California Department of Social Services, who licenses home daycare centers, for your rights as a parent: If the daycare center your child is in is licensed, they are in violation of State law by not allowing you to visit any time and should be reported to the State. I would NEVER leave my children in the care of a home or facility that didn't allow me to show up whenever I wanted to. Concerned parent

1.It seems totally unreasonable that you could not bring your child back after a doctor's appointment (assuming she/he isn't sick.)

2.I think many daycares feel it can be disruptive to the child and other children to have parents visit BUT you should be allowed to drop in any time, unannounced,I think that might be a law (check with Bananas); but as for a scheduled ''visit'' it seems reasonable to have the structured visiting hours. If they are downright not allowing you to come in at other times, I would be suspicious.

3. Fees: yes that is standard to pay for 2 weeks vacation and the 1 or 2 day holidays, because they need to earn a living wage like everyone else, and I think it feels hard to pay when you don't use the daycare but essentially you are paying for your space there and they can't fill it when you go on vacation.

4.I think some daycares are more relaxed about starting time and some more structured. The home preschool daycare we have used is on the VERY relaxed side which works really well for our family, however I would say the downside to NOT having a ''start'' time is that often we come into a boisterous group already engaged in their activities and it can be intimidating for our child to transition into that, vs. everyone arriving more or less together. But I'd guess that being that strict about arrival time benefits the caregivers and might feel too stict for a family daycare with such young ones, my feeling is they shouldn't have to be on a kindergarten-like school schedule unless you need to make it work that way. In short I'd say it all might be a matter of their daycare philosophy however it also sounds like the caregivers could be uncomfortable with guiding the children through transitions and they might be unreasonably rigid and un-homey in order to avoid dealing with the feelings or the chaos that can arise at transition times (i.e all the comings and goings.) Good luck. Chris