Finding affordable infant day care in Berkeley


I'm currently about 5 months pregnant and our baby is expected mid to late Sept 2019.  I expect to go back to work about 4-5 months after the baby is born, so I want to start reaching out to day cares.  I guess that means we need day care sometime around Jan or Feb 2020.  I work in N. Berkeley near 4th St shops, so something close to work would be ideal.  We also are on a budget, so... the more affordable, the better.

I've seen a lot of posts about this topic, but I'm still a bit confused and overwhelmed about where to start.  I tried the BANANAS Bunch website and got exactly ZERO results when I tried to search for day cares.  I realize I may need to get on a waiting list at some day cares... but I would rather not just rely on Yelp, and many of the day cares I have found don't accept infants.  So, I'm just wondering 1) does anyone has specific recommendations for childcare centers and 2) is there any where I could get a list of day cares in Berkeley that accept infants (and are well rated)?

Any advice would be much appreciated!


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BANANAS is the right place to go for a list, and there are a ton in Berkeley, so my guess is that something just wasn't working if you were pulling up zero. Call them (or go in person) and ask for help in setting up the search--once successful, it will give you a comprehensive list of all the licensed daycares in your area. There are also some larger centers near 4th Street--Child Education Center and Bright Horizons at Bayer--if a center might work. also has a good database that helped me a lot when I was looking! Good luck! 

I tried searching for full time infant care in Berkeley and gave up! I found several good options in Albany, all cost less than the ones I was finding in Berkeley. The cheaper ones are popular and you might have to get on a waiting list or call back when they have an opening (You call and ask to get that info). On BANANAS I got more results the fewer filters I had because some places don't put in all the info and they might be filtering some out for you. If you are flexible on pick up and drop off times leave that blank. Good luck!

Bananas mostly lists in Oakland, although there are a few in Berkeley listed.  Have you tried searching the BPN database?  There are TONS of day cares listed on this website all over.  When I was searching for care, I made a spreadsheet of each school and made note of who I had called.  I probably had to call 50 or so places to find a spot.  Also, for home day cares, they often don't book that far out, because they don't know who is staying until when.  So they will often tell you to call back a month or so in advance only.  If looking at home day cares, be prepared to leave a lot of messages that don't get returned (hence me keeping track so I knew which ones I had called or not).  Good luck!

I've used BANANAS but found the search feature here on Berkeley Parents Network much more useful, because you'll find reviews as well. The trick for me was to look under "Childcare & Preschools" > "Search Daycares & Preschools" NOT the one "with Current Openings." Especially in your case, where you're looking for something in several m months. The search feature allows you to enter the age of the child at the time you'll want to start them, so it'll narrow it down to ones that take infants. When I did this search, I looked in Berkeley, Oakland, and Emeryville, then only contacted the daycares in the zipcodes most desirable to me. I emailed ALL of them (it didn't take very long), and out of the few that emailed back, I ended finding a good option.

Good luck.

To add to what others have said, this site (Berkeley Parents Network) has a huge list of daycares in the Berkeley area... It is how we found ours! Just go to the top of the page under "Childcare and Preschools" and select "search daycares and preschools".  You can then search by age (in months) for places that accept infants, and then subselect cities near you (e.g., Berkeley, Albany). It is also helpful because there are links to the License numbers so you can be sure that they are licensed and have regular checkups.

It is really tough, I agree! Bananas can be helpful, but they do often have individual care givers and in-home caregivers. When my daughter was 2 months old, I did a general search online for daycares in Berkeley, then I went through and figured out which ones take infants by calling or looking online (some start at 3 months, some at 6 months, etc.), then I took that list and started calling to get a tour, then I got on the waitlist for the 3 that I thought would work for me.

I could not get into a daycare by the time I went back to work despite being on the lists already, so I used a nanny at first and transitioned to a daycare after 3 months. Word to the wise, if you want to get into a place, get on the waitlist, be friendly (I'm sure you will be fine on this point!), and keep in contact. If they have an opening and they know you are available within a couple of weeks, they may offer you a spot more easily!

FYI, Cornerstone, CEC, Heartsleap, Turquoise Wonderschool (actually many of the wonderschools), all take infants and are in Berkeley.

Try calling Bananas. I'm due a month after you, and also looking for care. I couldn't find anything on the bananas website, but they were helpful when I called. They said they do updates on openings every three months, so they don't have up to date info on openings so far out. However, they can give you a list of places that match your criteria without taking openings into account so you can get on wait lists. The list will show hours, prices, location and number of spaces for infants, so it's very easy to comb through. (My understanding, so far, though I'm only a few weeks into looking, is that the centers already have wait lists, and it's good to get on them, and home daycares and nanny may or may not know their openings yet. But I could be very wrong).

Good luck.