How to Find Childcare for an Infant

Parent Q&A

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  • Best Way to Connect with Home Daycares?

    (6 replies)

    Hi Berkeley Parents Network!

    I have been trying to contact home daycares in the South Berkeley area for the past few months. I started reaching out in April when I was 6 months pregnant because I know it can be pretty competitive because of the limited number of spots available. Ideally we would start daycare when our now 6 week old baby is a little over 6 months old. I have tried multiple emails and calls to 10+ facilities and have gotten radio silence from them. I know most home daycares do not have admins and probably have very limited time, but I would like to understand if I should be reaching out closer to the time when we need care or providing additional information. 

    Has anyone else experienced this? What worked for you? Does anyone have any advice on the best way to get in touch with home daycares? Do you need a referral? Any help would be much appreciated!

    I remember the time and energy I spent trying to find infant care for my now-3 year old son. Months and months of looking and I was unsuccessful. Covid made it worse. I ended up hiring a babysitter (not quite a nanny) and making it work until we got into a program with a spot for 2 year olds. Not to discourage you, but to sympathize. It's hard. The good news is that I think a lot of parents made alternative plans during Covid with nanny-shares, and I have seen more openings in general this summer than I did the year before. If you haven't already, I'd suggest getting a list of daycares/preschools from Bananas. I got my most comprehensive list from them. You're right about home daycares not calling back. I also experienced not getting return calls from preschools. Several things increase your likelihood of success -- contacting them right when they have openings, having a personal connection if that's possible, and also, fitting the profile they need (they might have room for an older or a younger child, or for a boy or a girl). If you haven't been able to find in-home care and your deadline is drawing near, you could also consider a larger preschool that has infant care. Keep trying, and ask around. A lot of home daycares don't even advertise -- it's all word of mouth. Good luck!

    We had the same trouble when looking for a home daycare. Most would not email us back. From my experience, those ones probably aren't worth pursuing if they are not reachable. Try emailing Kidsland. They have numerous locations around Berkeley and Richmond Annex. They are what we use and we love them. Good luck with your search.

    We are at a small in home daycare in that area and what we found was these don't typically carry a wait list. We started looking at the 4 month mark and locked down our daycare after searching for a month to a month and a half. 

    My recommendation would be to start gathering a list of daycares you're interested in, but not actually reach out until 2.5-3 mos before you need care. Most daycares will have a 1 or 2 month notice period for any kids leaving their care, so you want to get in right as people are giving notice. 

    Good luck! It will all work itself out eventually.

    I think you are wise to start researching daycares on the early side, with daycare spots so limited currently. I started contacting about 7 months before I needed care. I asked friends and moms in the neighborhood for recommendations and if the daycare they used had openings. A few facilities, I stopped in on a business day and knocked on the door to ask if they had information and an application available.

    You may have (much) better luck if you start contacting in-home daycares in mid-late summer, because current kids will be aging out and going to preschool. I also have found that they don't use waitlists because of the admin overhead.

    Larger daycare centers usually have waitlists, but some parents I talked to said that they don't trust if the daycares are actually following typical waitlist protocols. (Those waitlists are also like 20 kids long...) They told me that if you really want a particular daycare, to keep calling them to ask about open spaces. Daycares usually know a month out if there will be a space, and you have to be willing to take it right away.

    I lucked out -- we were planning to move from SF to Alameda, and found a well-reviewed in-home daycare in Alameda that would have a space immediately. We jumped on it right away! This was in July, to start in August.

    We are in South Berkeley too and I probably contacted all of the same daycares that you are not hearing back from! We gave up and went the nanny share route because I couldn't handle the uncertainty. In-home centers don't keep waiting lists and typically only know about an opening a couple of weeks or maybe a month or two ahead. If you wait, you will find something, but it may not be your favorite place, or it may not be close by or have the best hours, etc. If you have any constraints (e.g. we wouldn't consider any childcare we couldn't walk to), you may want to consider other options like larger centers (they keep waiting lists and are more organized) or a nanny share. I have heard of people having luck going through someone currently at the daycare you're looking at, so you could try to find current families and see if they can help you out. 

  • I am looking for an in-home daycare, or a daycare, starting in July when my baby will be 4 months old. We are near the Piedmont Avenue area.  Any recommendations would be appreciated!  

    I am looking for the same starting in August but am having so much trouble finding. We have a daycare that can take us in January so I am thinking of possible doing a nanny share from August - January. 

  • Hello,

    We are going to be first time parents (due date April 29) and we both work full time. We are planning to split the parental leaves between us two until our baby turns 6 months old and we will both be going back to work full time starting November 2021. We are having trouble navigating the whole daycare/ nanny situation. Even though we've put ourselves down on the waiting list for a bunch of daycares, there's no guarantee that we will be able to enroll our baby in one in November 2021. What do other parents usually do in this situation? Do you usually find a temporary nanny gig for the gap until a daycare spot is available? 

    Any advice will be greatly appreciated!


    If you haven’t already, you should consider in-home daycares. We sent both our children to an in-home daycare starting at 4 months old and they have stayed as they get older. I think they can be kind of hit or miss, and you have to do more actual visits since they tend not to have fancy websites, but we loved ours (Alarcon Family Daycare near Fruitvale, if that happens to be close to you). I find that I felt more comfortable with a smaller home-based daycare for my infants because I knew there were fewer kids and they would get more attention, and also because they’re a little more flexible on things like schedules and other issues that may arise. Daycare centers are a little more rigid in their policies. Plus our in-home daycare was a lot cheaper than any daycare centers we looked at, and easier to get into. 

    nanny share spots and sometimes daycare spots pop open randomly so in addition to being on a waitlist your best bet is probably to keep searching for a nanny share.  They tend to be more expensive but maybe you use it as a stop gap until a more cost effective option becomes available.

    Hi! Great question. When we had our first baby three years ago, we got him into a daycare right when I went back to work at four months post partum. Our little guy had other ideas. He cried all day at the daycare and after two months the daycare asked us to leave. We thought we couldn't afford a nanny but we were able to adjust our work hours so my husband could be home until 10am and I could be home by 4pm, and we found the most amazing nanny who our baby loved and we never looked back. The point of this story is just to say that you can try and plan... And also to expect some wrenches being thrown in your plans and being adaptable, just like everything with babies! Good luck!

    I think yes, people find a temporary nanny or nanny share situation if they are intending to enter a day care when a spot opens up. There are frequently situations where a nanny share will be looking to fill a spot temporarily, or nanny shares that are happy to add on another child for a while, as long as they know the context. Having been on the other end of this, sharing a nanny with a family that intended to move on to a day care without letting us know the timeline for their day care situation, I would be up front with your nanny and any other families you share with that you intend to move on as soon as it is an option. In my experience, it's more ethical to look for a share that is happy to add a kid than to go into a split with a family who is invested in a long-term relationship with both their nanny and their nanny share families, and then take off when your day care spot opens up. If you become a primary member in a nanny share, you can put the other family in a situation where they are responsible for the entire cost of the nanny while they try to replace you, which can take a few months, and the costs really add up. When we had to replace the family in our share that moved on to day care, we were careful to ask the new families we were interviewing if they were intending to move on to day care, and more than half actually were, so we were able to let people know we couldn't accommodate that, and ultimately find a better fit for our situation the second time around. Kudos to you for asking about this before committing to something. 👍

    I had a late April baby in 2016. At first I was informed that we were not being offered a spot for the Fall, and then eventually a spot opened up. I made do in the meantime with a part time temporary nanny and also looked into nanny shares. The childcare industry is in crisis right now due to Covid, and some centers are on the verge of closing. So this is not a great year to find daycare for an infant, which has always been tough. My advice would be to focus on finding another family to get into a nanny share arrangement.

    We gave up on daycare after only even making it onto one waitlist and went with a nanny share. Depending on the daycare provider, a nanny share is cheaper, the same or more expensive. Personally, I'm so glad we went with the nanny share. We found a great nanny (through BPN) and she has been flexible with us in a way that daycares could not have been. We hosted, so we also skipped out on having to handle packing him up and getting him ready in the morning. I found my nanny partner really early, and we started interviewing nannies about 2 months before we needed care, which I think is typical.

    This doesn't directly answer your child care question, but since you state that you two are planning to "split" your parental leave, I wanted to be sure you are fully informed of all of your rights.  I am not a lawyer, but I do work with families and try to keep up with leave and accommodation rights. As I understand it, in California, there are no longer any situations where two parents need to split their allotted leave; EACH parent is entitled to the full amount of leave as determined by their own employment situation and eligibility. I suggest you review all of your rights to paid and/or job-protected leave (as well as pregnancy and lactation accommodations).  There are a lot of different programs, and some may be "stacked" to maximize the time.  Many of these rights were expanded within the last year or so, and depending where your employer is located, you may have additional rights beyond state and federal. Every job situation is different, so not every regulation will apply, but it's worth understanding what you are ENTITLED TO so you can then decide what will work best for you.   A great resource, with clear hand-outs you can look at and share with your employer(s): 

    And this is a good summary:


    You should consider a nanny (if you can afford it) or nanny share (which is often in the same ballpark cost of infant care at a center). Day care for infants is fine but hard - rigid hours with the provider, lots of other kids so your child may get sick, sometimes hard to get personalized attention. If you can make it work try a nanny share. Start taking to other families in your neighborhood about nannies and shares - and look in the archives here for tips. 

    Hi, first of all, congratulations on your new baby! 
    I just had a baby last May 2020 and was in a similar situation as you. I was stressed out about the wait lists and not being able to tour because of the pandemic. We wanted the best care for our child (like any good parent), yet, a lot of daycares didn't allow us to tour their facility in person. Luckily, my partner and I were able to work opposite shifts in order to care for our daughter as long as we did and for that I am so grateful.
    We finally found an in home daycare (Kidsland) that we found to be flexible, friendly, affordable, and a good fit given their small class size. My daughter just started daycare last week at 10.5 months old and she's adjusting really well.
    It seems you are doing exactly what I did by contacting daycares/nannies about 6 months in advance. Sometimes it just takes a bit of time to find one that has spots available and is a good fit. Best of luck!

  • Childcare recommendations for 8m/o

    (2 replies)

    Hi all,
    We are exploring childcare options for our daughter beginning in September 2021 when she will be 7- 8 months old. We will need full-time care Monday-Thursday. We live in the Broadmoor neighborhood of San Leandro and commute to Hayward and occasionally San Ramon for work. We would like to find something close to home or work and are open to different options including a daycare center, in-home daycare, or nanny share. I am wondering if anyone has any recommendations for daycares in this area or if there is anyone in the area who may be interested in a nanny share around that time. We are doing a tour of Kids Konnect in San Leandro this week so if anyone has any insight on this site please feel free to share. I realize this is a ways off but I know the wait-lists for daycare centers can be long. Thank you in advance!


    Hi, I have no experience with daycares, but what I have found easiest and best for my particular needs has been nanny shares. I can usually find a partner family on BPN.
    I like that my child gets more personalized and one-on-one attention. It costs a little more but it's a short period of their life and they needs a lot of loving care during that time. It is so hard to leave your baby in someone else's hands but if you have a relationship with the nanny and trust them you feel better about it. At least that has been my experience. The cons are that if the nanny is sick or on vacation, you have no childcare, but you still pay. So that is a major inconvenience. With a daycare, there are multiple employees so they are still open.
    I'm moving to Assumption parish in San Leandro in a month. I have a toddler that is in a nanny share and all 3 kids in the share are going to preschool in August or September. My other child will be about 9 months old then. If nothing better comes along sooner we could possibly team up and start a share with our 2 kids and my nanny in September. We could split hosting or something like that?
    Or if anyone else reads this and wants to start a share sooner let me know!
    Feel free to keep in touch.

    Our 22 month old has been attending Kids Konnect in San Leandro since the beginning of June 2020 when he just turned 1 and we love it! At the beginning of each month, the center director (Ms. Bri) sends out a newsletter along with that month's curriculum and food menu. There are a lot of fun activities and my kiddo seems to be flourishing at Kids Konnect. The infant teachers are amazing, caring, and great about communicating my kid's growth. The teachers also send pictures and videos throughout the day on the Classtag app. Also, Covid protocols are thorough and we haven't had any issues so far. We've been very happy and would definitely recommend Kids Konnect San Leandro! 

  • Our second child is arriving in May 2021 and our almost-5-year-old will be starting Kindergarten next fall, most likely in Lafayette (we'll be commuting from West Oakland). I'm SAH for now, but am thinking ahead to when I'll want or need at least part-time care for the baby - maybe 6-12 months down the line. I'm looking for daycare recommendations in North Oakland/Rockridge (somewhere roughly on the way to the tunnel from our part of Oakland) with a very nurturing environment and low teacher turnover. I'm less concerned about cost and convenience than I am about finding a place that feels safe and loving. I'm not really into the idea of a nanny or nanny share for a lot of reasons (no room at home, wanting socialization for baby, better coverage in case a teacher is out sick, etc). I'd love to hear from anyone who really loves their infant program! Thanks! 

    We've liked New to Two, in Emeryville right on the North Oakland border.  Its an in-home daycare, only three kids at a time (ages 0-2), very nurturing, and we haven't had any closures due to provider illness.

    Have you looked into Les BouTchou in Emeryville? It's a small French in-home daycare with low staff turnover rate. I think they accept 3+ months. However I think they might be 4-day/week during the Covid time. My son was there from 7 months pre-Covid.

    We went to a small in home daycare in Berkeley that my daughter absolutely loved. Its close to Ashby so it might be a bit out of the area for you. Sunshine Daycare They were very loving

    Our son goes to pride in learning Montessori - Montclair campus off of thornhill. He’s been going since he was 9 month old and he is thriving. He is now 19 months and he knows how to use sign language and he is learning to talk and improve his vocabulary. We love the curriculum. The teachers are super loving and kind and I am pregnant with my second arriving may 2021 also and I plan on putting my baby in the infant program around 3 months part time. I had a nanny with my son from 3 months to 9 months and I really wish I’d put him in the daycare sooner. Good luck. 

  • How soon to sign up for daycare?

    (5 replies)

    My husband and I are expecting and due with baby boy in June 2021. We are wondering how soon we need to apply for daycares in the area? We are hoping to find one in North Berkeley/Albany area and have seen past posts that say waitlists can be a year long. Also, any recommendations for daycares you liked in this area? Thanks!

    We live in Albany, I'm mom to a 2 year old. I started reaching out to local in-home daycares once I was out of my first trimester. Some daycares immediately said they didn't have spots available, but most I visited weren't sure what availability they would have until the time got closer. It was useful to start talking to daycare providers to get a sense of what was important to us, and to get on their radar. Once my daughter was born we reconnected with our favorite places and had a few options without our favorite places. Good luck!

    Don't know of any in your area, but I'd suggest applying now. If you want to do a nanny/nanny share you're good to start looking a couple of months before you need care. But it is NEVER too early to apply to daycares. Many, many, daycares. The good news is that Covid has caused a lot of people rethink daycares, so it might be easier, but we applied to 3 before our kid was born and didn't get into any until he was 8 months old. 


    Our son started daycare Feb 1st 2021 (at 4.5 months old).

    We signed up in July 2020, so about 7 months prior to starting.

    We chose an in-home daycare in Albany with one caretaker (+ some part time helpers), so only four children under 2-years old are allowed.  We had to commit early, because the caretaker has to coordinate around the restrictions.  

    The pandemic seemed initially like it changed things and there were lots of openings at one point. Now there seem to be less openings. My son's daycare (Tiny Footprints) is booked through 2021! I would start looking and applying now. 

    I don't want to cause any anxiety, but the sooner the better! I signed up for various daycares when I was 4 months pregnant and didn't get off a waitlist until my son was shy of one year old. It's pretty crazy. Perhaps with COVID now there is less demand for childcare, with people wanting to keep kids home. I would try to get on as many as you can. Probably tough now to not be able to visit in person and get a sense of the place, but from BPN you can likely find a lot of great recommendations and information from previous posts. Good luck!

  • I am giving birth this week to my first child and have not secured childcare.  Originally, my husband and I were going to start looking in March and take our time through the process.  I'm an educator and my husband is self-employed so we have some flexibility, and were hoping to secure something by July.  With Covid 19 and California's shelter-in-place order I'm not quite sure how to navigate this at all.  We are mostly interested in a nanny share.  Thanks for any insights!

    My experience with both my children (5 and 10 mos) was that things fell into place with a nanny share about 6 weeks or so before we needed care. It can feel like you're cutting it too close but families and nannies often aren't looking before then so it can be hard to find something much earlier. So if you're hoping for care in July, you can at least wait it out for another month or so to see where we are with the epidemic and stay-at-home orders. 

    There is no reason you can't reach out and start talking to families who might be posting about nanny shares now. You don't typically meet in person until you think you're a match anyhow, so if you see a posting that seems promising, reach out, say hello, start a convo and meet up later. Also agree that you don't need as much lead time for nanny shares as you do with daycares, so 4-6 weeks is a good window. 

  • Infant daycare advice

    (7 replies)

    Hi all: We recently moved to the East Bay and are now expecting our first child. We are looking for daycare centers with availability for a 3-month-old starting this November, but I am finding that the highly recommended daycares are booked out through winter 2021! What is one to do? Are we simply out of luck for having not planned our pregnancy 2 years in advance? Feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, especially since we do not know anybody in the area with young kids who can 'coach' us through this process. Can you recommend how we go about finding a reputable and trustworthy daycare, with availability in the not-so-distant future? We live in Oakland, I work in Berkeley, and my spouse works in Alameda, so we are open to daycare options in all three locations. Much thanks for any insight! 

    Hey there - our babe (now toddler!) goes to Granny Goose Daycare in Oakland and we love it. Great food, thoughtful activities (owner used to be a preschool teacher), staff and owner are awesome. It's an affordable and small home based daycare, which felt important since we started daycare when our babe was still pretty young. I've posted about her/them a lot here and can't say it enough - Valerie at Granny Goose daycare is the best! Highly recommend. (she's listed on here and Yelp)

    Keep a list and keep calling around. I also highly recommend looking into in-home daycares rather than the large centers (which tend to have the longer waits). Many daycares don't know their availability until a few months out (or sometimes only a month out) when parents let them know their child is moving on to preschool, they are moving, etc. My experience was that most daycares did not call back or had very long waits but then I'd call back a month later and things would change. I hated not knowing where my child would be going in advance but it worked out about 1-2 months before I needed care and that is often the case for most of my friends in the area too. 

    Hi there! My husband and I are expecting our first in May and are looking for a family to do a nanny share with starting in September. We have not gotten on any lists for daycares so I'm starting to get a bit scared about care options too. Had no idea we were so late in the game. Are you open to nanny shares? If so, would love to connect and learn more about what you're looking for too. We live in San Lorenzo, just south of Oakland and not too far from Alameda. 

    Hi there! Congratulations on expecting!

    Our kids started at Chatham Preschool (Redwood Campus) at 16 weeks old and we loved it. Highly recommend checking them out.

    Having said that, centers that take infants are few and far between in the Bay Area. Long commutes and demanding jobs make nannies an appealing option to many. Several of my friend have opted for a nanny share until age 2, when the number of spaces in center-based care goes way up.

    I suggest reaching out to BANANAS ( which is a state funded org that helps bay area families negotiate this process. They will have a comprehensive list of all the centers that offer infant care in the cities you're considering. This is how we ended up at Chatham! They can also provide insight into the nanny share and in-home care options around town.

    It's so tough.  Depending on where you are in Berkeley, I can highly recommend Cornerstone Children's Center.  I know the waitlist is closer to 9 months long vs 12-18.  I put us on the list in January coinciding with a tour, and received confirmation in June that we had a spot (my son was born in late April).  Our spot was ready for August 1.  I've had a few other friends have similar waits/experiences there.  It does help at CCC and other places if you can be somewhat flexible - ie - can you accept 4 days/week for a while until the 5th day opens up?  I've had friends work their way in that way, using a nanny share or flexible schedules to cover the days the daycare cannot.  BANANAS has a childcare finding service too, and many friends used it and found smaller, in-home care centers that were a good fit for them, and those places can be trickier to find / secure a spot without the help of a BANANAS-type service.  Good luck!

    Hi! I am sad to hear this. I can imagine how hard this process has been for your family, because it's the same for us.

    We have a 4-month-old and have also been reaching out to countless daycares and don't find anything. I will keep you posted if I do hear something possible.

    Good luck!

    I highly recommend Rana's in home day care in Oakland:

    It says 8 months, but I know sometimes she allows for younger babies so it it worth a try.  

    Also, as another poster said, many in home day cares don't know their availability until a month or two out, so keep trying.  I made a spreadsheet of about 50 places and had to call several times, but it worked out in the end.

  • Help/advice for infant daycare

    (10 replies)

    Hello BPN,

    We are seeking daycare for our infant beginning mid-January 2020 or possibly in Feb 2020 sometime.  Our daughter will be about 5 months old at that time, and we're located in Albany.  I've been writing and calling day-cares since I was about 5 months pregnant, and literally have not had a SINGLE positive response of a daycare with an infant opening.  I've contacted probably at least 20 day-cares, and I've found that many don't even reply or call back.  Of the ones that have responded, they've all told me they don't have space for at least a year.  I kept telling myself something would work out eventually, but I'm starting to panic as we go into the holidays. We know about nanny-share options, but we looked into one nanny share seriously, and it was just simply not doable for us financially.  We might be willing to revisit that idea if the cost were a little closer to daycare costs.

    Does anyone have any advice?  Are there any resources we can lean on (government, non-profit, etc)?  We're looking for something ideally in Albany/North Berkeley/El Cerrito area.   I've been using BPN listings and Bananas website so far.  I really don't know what I'm supposed to do at the end of my maternity leave if we haven't found childcare.  We cannot afford for me to lose my job.

    Thanks very much.

    I had same issue and had to expand my search area. I finally found a home daycare in Richmond called Melody’s Pond. She may still have an infant opening as she was only accepting infants at this time. Hope you find something soon

    Not sure if its too far to travel, but Kunga Daycare is absolutely fabulous and worth checking with for openings.  Tseyang and Dahlwah are loving, kind, and thoughtful caregivers and you'll absolutely be happy there.   

    Hi there,

    I believe that my daughters daycare has one spot available for an infant. It's a wonderful Spanish-speaking home based daycare on Berkeley, on the corner of Oregon & MLK. Not sure if you've already tried them, but I suggest reaching out to Berenice Romero at rombere [at]

    Good luck! 

    I'm in a similar boat, but at the start of the process. I'm 5 months pregnant and I've been contacting day cares since I was 3 months pregnant. I'll be following this thread. 

    I sympathize with the stress you're going through. There's a shortage of infant daycare slots. You've probably heard that family based daycare centers usually don't know about upcoming openings more than 2-4 weeks in advance, and they don't return calls just to say there's no opening. If they're telling you no vacancy for a year, that's likely based on the time it will take for their existing infants to age out of the infant slot. But families do switch in and out of daycares, so it's worth calling them again as January draws closer.

    Also, you might need to cope with the cost of nanny share for 6-8 months until you can get into a lower cost daycare situation. Nanny shares are comparable to quality center-based care in terms of costs, though higher than family based daycare costs.

    Hey, My friend who works at a (not local) preschool said you that if you are on a waiting list, you have to keep checking in with the schools monthly to keep on their radar. If parents don't check in then they figure they are no longer interested. Also, you should talk to them to see what their first type of availability might be to get your foot in the door, then you'll probably have higher priority when a FT spot opens. For example, I am looking for a FT position, but they said if I was flexible, like open to starting 1 or 2 days a week, then when a full-time spot opens up, I'll be ahead of a "new" family on the waiting list because I'm an "existing" family. Hope that makes sense. Good luck to you!


    I was in a similar boat. I would recommend checking out listing on Wonderschool (we had great luck on that one). And, obviously, the BPN subpage that lists daycares with current openings for infants. When we had to switch daycares, I would look at that page every day, and when a new one popped up call immediately before the spot was gone. We also did a hodgepog solution at the beginning, where we found 3 days a week at a wonderschool, and then did 2 days a week with a nannyshare until a full time spot opened up with a daycare. 

    Good luck! It's nuts out there.

    Hi There,

    I was in a similar position when on maternity leave and even had a spot in a daycare, but then they had to take the spot back because there was no longer a vacancy (a family ended up not moving away). We have a nanny share and are in love with our nanny. It’s definitely more money than we wanted to spend and decided we will reassess once our baby turns 1, but for now, we are dealing with the finances and are just happy with how well it has worked out and how much our baby loves his nanny. I know this doesn’t solve your problem, but wanted to say hang in there and a nanny share could be a temporary situation until you find something more long term. 

    congrats on your little one!

    I ended up having to find an in-home close to my office (Marin) because infant childcare is so scarce around here. 

    Have you also looked at Wonderschool for leads?

    Reliability is key. We went to the Bunny Hutch for two months but had to stop because of the same day cancellations. Yasmeen had constant issues such as a cold, then strep throat, then a toothache, then her mother was sick, then a flu. We ended up going to a nanny share and she has not cancelled even once. Good luck!

  • Seeking a daycare for a baby January

    (2 replies)

    Hi BPN! Our daughter will be 6 months old in January and I'm starting to panic that there are almost no infant spots available in daycares.  I know about the nannyshare option but for several reasons we prefer a daycare.  Does anyone have advice? I've made lots of calls and gone on some visits, but nothing has worked out yet.  We live near Piedmont Ave./Rose Garden and location is important for us.  Thank you in advanced from a stressed out mama!


    I live in the same neighborhood as you and the only daycare we even got on the wait-list for was SmallTrans Depot (I would have taken him there on the 33 and then barted to work). Since it's one of the bigger day care facilities, it's worth putting your name on the list. We had already found a nannyshare by the time they called to let us know they had a spot for us, but maybe it will work out for you. I remember how worried this all made me and one thing that did help was an older mom telling me that every childcare situation she ever had revealed itself at the last minutes. It's not comfortable if you're a planner (I am!) but it seems to be how things are. Best of luck! You probably already know this, but Bananas has a home daycare search. I remember that I had found a couple that were within blocks of the Rose Garden. Again, none of them had openings when I called, but things change frequently and people move.

    Same experience as the previous poster--we also live in the same area. There are unfortunately far fewer family daycares in the neighborhood than there used to be--three actually closed while we were on their waiting lists!--and almost no centers with infant programs nearby. I'd keep calling and visiting family daycares (if you don't have a list, check with Bananas)--typically they won't have much notice of their open spots and timing is everything. Depending on how far you're willing to go, there are also infant centers in Emeryville and South Berkeley that you might consider. We ended up with nannyshares for both kids, despite starting the search months in advance for the second child. However, part of that was because we prioritized location--we did find open spots in Downtown Berkeley and East Oakland, for instance, but because we work in Downtown Oakland/SF and rely on transit, decided that was going to be too challenging logistically for our family to add in those commutes. I don't know what the going rates are today, but when we were looking, the cost difference between a nannyshare (paid over-the-table) and a daycare center was pretty minimal for full-time care. Home daycares were generally less expensive.

  • Howdy,

    New dad here with a six week old. I've been on parental leave, but am going back to work in a week and thinking about ways to make sure my partner is supported / we get time for us every now and then. Is babysitting / daycare for infants this young something that people do, and if so, anything I should keep in mind when planning this? For example, I'm considering hiring someone for a few hours every other week for a date night.

    Recommendations, tips?  I live in Richmond.


    I do not recommend daycare’s but possibly having a nanny with regular hours who specialize in infant care. Keep in mind this is the bay area and it is not cheap to find an experienced nanny. 
    Make sure that  they are trustline Certified with infant CPR training. 

    hi there! I think for a baby that young you may be better off hiring a doula or night nurse - something with experience caring for that particular age group. Let me know if you need any recommendations!

    It's definitely something that postpartum doulas do. I recommend reaching out to Michi Arguedas of Quetzal Doula. She was my birth and postpartum doula and supported me many months after the birth. She's also part of a doula collective so if she can't help you, she can probably refer you to someone who can. 

  • Hi,

    Our baby girl will be 3 months old in early October and we haven't had much luck finding a daycare that is close to home, either home-based one or daycare/preschool is good- as long as it is in the north or west of the lake so we can easily drop her off on the way to work in SF. 

    What we find is that a lot of them simply don't return voice message or email or have no opening this October. I am about to put all of them on excel and religiously call them on a daily basis... Well, I guess I will have to! 

    Meanwhile, if you know any daycare that you can recommend have an opening for our 3 month-year-old girls Please do let me know! 

    *The only requirement is that it will need to be in the north of the lake. 


    When I was looking for a home daycare I had  to make an excel sheet and call a bunch of places multiple times.  Also, they often don't know if they will have openings or not until very close to the date because parents don't tell them with much notice that they are leaving (a note to all of us in home day cares to give our caretakers plenty of notice!).  I loved our home day care, but it was in East Oakland so not helpful for your requirements sorry.  But yes, make a spreadsheet, call a ton, and eventually you will find something.

  • Hello!

    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!


    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.

  • We would like to know how other people handle this. We have a 18 month old and are starting to “look” for another one (IVF). If things work out we will have a 2.5 year old and a 3 month old in December. Our boy is in a nanny share and we plan to start preschool when he is 3.5 (Fall 2020). 

    So, for a year we will have the 2.5 year old and the baby at home. We would like for our boy to continue in a nannyshare so he has at least one other kid his age, but we also want him to spend time with his baby sibling. So that means a nanny share for 3 kids with 2 toddlers and a baby. Our nanny says that she is ok with that, but I am curious as to how other people have dealt with having 2 children of these ages and keeping them at home. 


    It was quite simple for us. My kids are almost exactly two years apart. We continued with our nanny through preschool. It was great to have her especially when my youngest was just born. She kept big brother occupied and entertained during the day while we were busy with the newborn. When I went back to work, she watched both kids. When it was time for my oldest to start preschool, she continued to watch my youngest full-time. My oldest only did a half day at preschool so my nanny would pick him up after school and then watch both kids until I came home. There was more than adequate time for sibling bonding time.

  • My husband and I just had our first child, and we are seeking a nanny or nanny share for when we're working part time November and December. However, in January we will both be working full time again and we are concerned that the costs of having a full time nanny will be prohibitive. So we're looking into other options, and have had a VERY hard time finding any day cares/ preschools etc. that accept infants. Our daughter will be 6 months old when we need full time care. Any advice or recommendations are welcome!

    [Moderator Note] This is a popular topic lately - see recent replies to this question on the BPN website: How to find childcare for an infant

    Our son started at Cornerstone in Berkeley when he was about 3 months. We were very happy there, but moved him at 18 months to something closer to home.

    We do a home-based daycare - full time for one child is 1400/per month - it works out to about $7/8 hour. We live in Oakland BTW - I would recommend our place but they are currently full and not taking a waitlist. 

    Hi Willow,

    My name is Rebecca and I'm a first time mom as well. Congrats! We are looking for childcare around the same time and amount (part time and then potentially full time) so I wanted to respond and see if we could talk sometime. Maybe there is nanny share potential in our future. Send me a note via my BPN username if you want to talk.

    looking forward to it!


  • I just found out I am pregnant. I'm due at the end of February 2019.  I'll have 6 months maternity leave, but after that, I'll need a daycare for my baby.  What is the average waitlist time for infant day care? I'm wondering if it is really necessary to go on wait lists now! For context, my husband and I are currently living in DC, but moving at the end of August to Berkeley.  Any advice would be much appreciated!

    My experience is that it is difficult to get infant day care spots in Berkeley. Especially at daycares that are not in-home day cares. With kid #3 I learned my lesson and put her on a list somewhere when I was 3 months pregnant to start when she was 6 months old. We weren't even the first people on the list. While I am sure you could find a spot somewhere, if you have a particular place you are interested in or location limitation (e.g. need a place near BART), then I would consider getting on lists now. There are some places that take infants and then preschool afterwards. So, you would only need to apply once. Try looking at the Model School if you're more into Montessori-style or the Aquatic Park School if you're more into Reggio-style. 

    If you’re looking at daycare centers (as opposed to home-based), my experience in the Berkeley/Albany area is about a year waitlist for infant spots. Centers that take infants are limited (private message me for a list I went through), and each one usually only takes a few infants due to the required staff:child ratio for the littlest ones. I wish I’d started the process earlier so good you’re thinking of it now! Keep in mind most have a fee ($50-$100) to be on the waitlist. I don’t know much about the smaller home-based options but there are a ton - see BPN’s list. 


    Berkeley is not as crazy as DC (or SF for that matter), but it’s good to get on waitlist proactively.  I just had a baby in April and started looking for care in October/ November starting last December through February. That seemed plenty early for the places I went. I did not check out UC Berkeley daycare because it wasn’t convenient for me and I had an expectation that it would be hard to get into as a non faculty or staff member. That would be the one I’d try for now if you have an interest. You can safely wait until you arrive and settle a bit for most of them based on the timeline you’re describing.  Send me a message if you’d like more info. I can share my daycare search experience. 

    Well first, congratulations!

    You will probably get a lot of conflicting information on this one, but I'll just give a little advice based on my recent experience trying to find daycare for my now 2 month old. The typical advice that people gave us was to get on an infant care list as soon as you find out you are pregnant, especially if there is a particular daycare that you want.  However, this is often impractical, especially from a distance.  Our baby was born in April, and we started sending out emails and calling places in January, about starting daycare in August (so about 4 months before she was born, 8 months before daycare). We got zero replies.

    We then decided to go the Nanny share route and stopped looking at daycares. However, a week after our baby was born, we changed our minds again and decided that the Nanny share route was a bit too expensive, and frantically tried to find daycares again.  At this point we thought that we really screwed up, because we contacted tons of daycares, and most of them either did not reply, or replied saying that they were waitlisted until spring 2019.

    It wasn't until she was about 1 month old (3 months before daycare to start), that we started getting positive replies.  At this point, daycares had new openings because an infant's parents would notify the daycare about a move, or a 2 year old would transition to a preschool or something. It seemed like most of the daycares that did not respond previously simply did not know when there would be an opening, and they wouldn't start a waitlist unless they knew there would be an empty spot soon.

    So, in a nutshell, if you can get on a waitlist, great! But... if your experience is anything like ours you might be filled with stress until the last minute, when suddenly you have multiple options.  

    It might depend on the daycare. I think the bigger standalone daycare centers have official waitlists, and you can try and get on them ASAP. You might have to pay a fee to be on the list. Our daycare is a part of a preschool, and we had to pay an enrollment fee (even if there wasn't a spot for our son, which there was, thankfully). The smaller, in-home daycares often don't have waitlists, and just post openings when they have them. and BPN are both great resources for finding local daycares.

    For what it's worth, we tried calling around to a bunch of in-home daycares when I was still pregnant, and we had a hard time even getting them to call us back. I don't necessarily fault the daycares for this, their time is limited and there's a lot of demand. We ultimately decided to go with a nanny share option for when I went back to work. It was a lot easier to find a share (we found it here on BPN), and the rates can be similar to some daycares. Then, after about 5 months in the share, we started poking around in the daycare search again, and got lucky and got a spot. Good luck in your search!

    It totally depends. Centers will typically require more lead time, in-home day care typically less. What I did for my searches was basically as soon as I knew there was a need & when, I narrowed down a list of good options based on location, hours and reviews if I could find them. (Check out Bananas I then simply called those and said when I was looking for & asked when they suggested I call back to get on a list, or more seriously engage with them. You are likely way too early for most places, but they may tell you to call back 4/6 months or a year ahead of time to at least check in & start to think about touring etc. Plus, you never know - maybe your ideal place really does have a crazy long list & wants to hear from you now. Doesn't hurt to find out. 

    That being said, do you know exactly where in Berkeley you will be living? If not, you may want to wait until you figure that out and can narrow things down more. You don't want to be driving all over the place twice a day, & Berkeley is fairly large. It will likely not hurt to wait until you are settled here to start this whole process. 

    Thanks, all for your advice! I really appreciate it.

  • Hi BPN folks,

    I’m looking for different options for childcare for siblings close in age down the line, as we are expecting baby #2 when our son will be 19 months. We are both full-time working parents. I don’t have maternity leave for when #2 arrives, but I may have some mother-in-law help plus a few weeks of disability leave. However, my MIL is also in her late 70s, (completely ambulatory but still).

    Cost is definitely a consideration, so hiring a full-time nanny for 2 kids is likely not be affordable for us. However, I’m not ruling anything out at the moment. I also have my own parents who could help out, but they are still 6 hours away so it would not be a full-time thing. I am less concerned about the immediate post-delivery time (since I do think I’ll have a few weeks disability), but more concerned about long run when I’m back at work full swing. Another additional piece to the puzzle is that my MIL will in fact be staying with us long-term, which actually complicates it because while she is willing to help, we can’t expect her to be the full-time caregiver (she doesn’t have a license either, and we will be applying for a green card for her, so she is really not assimilated here). So I also don’t know what a good balance might be because I know she will want to have some part in taking care of the grandkids, but I need to find a solution that would probably be part-time preschool for toddler, part-time infant care, and part-time let-grandma-have-a-role-as-well. Thoughts/suggestions welcome! Thanks.

    An au pair, if you have a spare bedroom.

    Infant care, at a childcare center, tends to be the most expensive, and has longest waitlists. Get on them ASAP  I would get the toddler into care at a local center if you can.  And when you can, start getting the infant a few days a week at the same center, if possible, as well.  Let the MIL help a few days, but yes, in her late 70s, it will be challenging to fully rely on her.  Good luck.

    You should visit a few home-based family daycares in your neighborhood.  They might offer more flexibility in terms of hours, and they are an affordable option when you have two young children, compared to the cost of a larger childcare center or a nanny.  They are great for very young children with their home-like setting, and many daycares also have preschool programs for older kids. Another option you could consider is planning for you or your husband to reduce work hours temporarily for a few years, so you can patch together childcare until the kids start preschool and/or kindergarten. It can be an opportunity to rethink your long-term career goals, too. When my 2nd child was born and daycare for two kids basically consumed all of my paycheck, I decided to go back to school and get a graduate degree. I qualified for grants and loans, I found a part-time office job, and I could arrange my schedule around my kids, unlike when I was working full time. By the time the youngest started elementary school I had a new career path that considerably raised my earning potential over what it was before. Not for everyone, but it worked for me!

  • We had originally planned to have a family member watch our infant, but due to last minute circumstances, those plans did not work out. I am due in 3 weeks and trying to secure a spot at a daycare around the Albany/Berkeley/El Cerrito area, starting October 1st. I've emailed and left several voicemails at various locations , without receiving any responses. Is this typical? Am I too late in the game? Any other recommendations for finding care by that date? Thanks in advance!

    Daycare centers in the area have waiting lists of 8-18 months. (I called in May and the earliest I found was Spring 2019.) Infant care is difficult because the staff to baby ratio has to be so low (I think 3:1 or 4:1) so there are only a few spots at any given location.  It usually costs $50-$100 to get on wait lists. Home-based daycare is likely your best bet for short notice. BPN is a great resource - lots of options, most of which have a few reviews, and you can always look up their licenses on the Dept of Social Services for inspection reports and violations. You can search by minimum age, location, etc.

    Contact Ligia Alvarez at Little Blue House Preschool on Arlington in Richmond. I don't know if she has openings or not. She only takes 14 kids at a time and only a few can be infants. Her whole family is wonderful. Our son thrived there (after failing at a bigger, fancier preschool in El Cerrito). 

    (510) 234-8332

    5834 Arlington Blvd
    Richmond, CA 94805

    I've been looking at places for March 2019, and have had a similar experience so I would consider it typical. Some places I've contacted up to 4 times before receiving a response. Other resources to find places (besides BPN, which is amazing) are Yelp, and Bananas . BPN frequently has nanny share openings posted too. Good luck in your search, I know it is stressful but I am sure you will find something soon!

    Hi! There is hope. I’m in a similar situation, looking for September openings. I’m very close to securing something using these 3 sources- BPN (see Preschools & Daycares with Current Openings), Yelp (not so much for openings but for reviews), Nextdoor (actually great for lesser known/reviewed daycares). I HIGHLY recommend, after you have a list, to go on CA Social Services ( look up the inspections and reports for those daycares.

    I maybe called 7 places, heard back from 3 or 4. So I’m batting 50/50. My other piece of advice is- don’t judge a place by its website. Do the homework wth the Social Services thing. I had some daycares that had crappy websites, but good reviews and clean inspections. I visited them and were totally ok with them. Hope that helps! Feel free to PM me if you want to know which places I looked at- I was looking from Richmond down to Albany so similar to you. Good luck!

  • Hey fam,

    I realize this question has been brought up before, but the threads look a few years old so hoping for a fresh take. Can any parents provide new parents with some guidance for infant care? Should we start getting on daycare waitlists now (1 year advance too early)? Or try to meet with nannies for nanny share first? Has anyone had better luck finding/securing one over the other? How much should we expect to pay for each, anyone have recent costs they are willing to share? I plan to go back to work when our baby is 4 - 5 months depending on what we find. We live in West Berkeley, so hope to find a nanny share or daycare nearby. Thanks in advance!  - Nicole

    It's way too early to find a nanny, and for daycare it really varies - if they keep a waiting list, the earlier the better, but I found many in-home daycares (the kind that tend to take infants) don't keep waiting lists, they just told me to keep checking in. Super frustrating. I really liked having a nanny share early on when my kid was a tiny baby, and the cost (for a share with one other family) was comparable at that age (infant daycare is expensive!) - around 2 daycare costs go down so we switched then. If you want to do a nanny, you'll have to wait until a month or two ahead, but if you want a share you could start looking for another family sooner than that.

    For day cares, start now to get on lists. For nannies or shares, you really can't start until maybe a few months max before you need the care. You might be able to find the family to share with first, but most nannies don't know when their current job will end so they don't start looking for new positions until a few months (or even really a few weeks) before they are available to start. I like to plan ahead so I found this stressful but ultimately I had no trouble finding an abundance of qualified available nannies (using this site to find them!). 

    Hi Nicole-

    FWIW we never considered daycare and knew we wanted to do a nanny share. Daycare has to be addressed way in advance, but nanny shares not so. My LO is 6 months old and I return to work next week. We found a wonderful nanny and ended up sharing with friends from our birth class! Put it all together about a month ago. Most nannies and recs for nannies here are for immediate or close to immediate employment...There were lots of great candidates here on BPN and we struck gold with our wonderful part time nanny!!!

    Good luck and congrats!!! 

    Never to early to start looking for care. Though there are wonderful daycares I would personally recommend a nanny for the early years of development . Yes it can be more expensive but I feel the level of care...(one on one) provided is much better...... Doing a share is a litlle cheaper. Do a contract if you go the nanny route....daycares tend to be closed around 7 weeks out of the year. With a nanny you generlly have more days of care but be fare! 

    Best of luck and congrats!

    Unless you're set on going with a nanny you should start touring daycares now and getting on the waitlist for the ones you like. My wife was only 3 months pregnant when we started looking at daycares. Even though we were at least a year out from needing it there were not many open slots. We ended up booking a place at one place that we *somewhat* liked just so we knew we were covered while we looked for (and luckily found) a much better one. If you are set on a nanny(share) then you can probably skip the daycare route and just interview nannies. For cost, we found that daycares ran around $1200-$1500 for a basic home-based daycare although they could go as high as $2000. I don't know what nannys charge but I heard around $20-$25/hour. Less if you go with a nannyshare.

    I had a baby in May, and am going back to work in a couple of weeks, so just went through this process. I started looking for care a bit late in the game, about 2 months before I was scheduled to return to work. I looked at both nanny shares and daycares. For nanny shares, my timing was perfect. I found many families who were looking to share. Most people don't start posting their open nanny share slots until a couple of months beforehand anyway. If you think you want to go with a nanny, definitely wait, you'll find one no problem. The average price I found for a share with two children is about $13/hour. 

    For various reasons, I decided to go with a daycare for my child. When I started my search, I found that many had filled up and had waitlists. Several told me that they would open up their waitlist in the new year or next summer, so you may want to start the daycare search now if you have a very particular idea of the type of place you'd want to place your baby. It is more difficult to find open slots for infants than for toddlers. That said, I was able to get into my first choice daycare no problem, so you should be able to find a great place for your baby even if you put it off like I did. In terms of cost, daycare prices ran the gamut depending on type, i.e. small home daycares vs. larger schools. In general though, they were significantly less costly than nanny shares.

    Fyi, I live in Oakland, so the childcare scene in Berkeley might different. 


    I am due January 2018 and will require care in June 2018. I live and work in Oakland and have found that getting on waitliists and or sending in an deposit now are not only recommended by required for day cares. For cost, most run around $1700-1800/month for M-F full-time. I haven't explore nannies and or nanny shares as it seems nanny  share timelines run later than day care timelines in terms of signing up or organizing. 

    I'd love to hear any other feedback from veteran parents. 

    These responses are so incredible!! I really appreciate you all for sending these great notes and invaluable advice. I'll share with hubby! So far he thinks a nanny share would be easier as well during the early months as most of you have mentioned. Big hugs. Thank you!!

  • Waitlist experience for daycares

    (3 replies)

    Hello Everyone,

    I have a daughter on the way in March and am trying to figure out day care for her when she is 6 months old. I am in the process for signing up for some wait lists in the Berkeley area.  Did I wait too long to sign up, or were people able to find care with less notice?

    We looked for daycare last summer for our 1-year old.  Our experience was that the "institutional" daycares had waitlists, while the home-based daycares were more likely to have spots, just because kids go in and out and you can grab a spot.  If you are flexible about location, just call all the home-based daycares and ask if they have open spots.  We called one place in May, and they said they would have a space in August when we needed.  In fact, home-based daycares may not known about openings this far in advance, so if the ones you are on the waitlist for don't come through, start calling those home-based ones.  My son is very happy in his home-based daycare with a small group and lots of personalized attention.

    Go ahead and sign up. I thought it would be nearly impossible to get into the UCB Early Childhood Education Program for my infant, but it turned out they had a couple of open spaces 2 months into the fall term.

    There are a handful of childcare centers in the Berkeley area that have waiting lists, but a lot of people (maybe most people) use a nanny or nanny share, or a home-based daycare, for babies that age.  You can usually find a daycare or a nanny within a month or two of when you need care, so don't sweat it. Check BPN's Childcare listing for nannies, and look at daycares on BPN, or visit Bananas for referrals.

  • Childcare Options in Oakland for babies

    (2 replies)

    Hi all,

    My husband and I are soon to be first time parents, and we live/work in downtown Oakland. We are on the fence about doing a nanny share or daycare, but curious what other parent recommend for childcare options near downtown/Lake Merritt or Rockridge/Temescal areas. I don't even know where to start! Our due date is 12/28/16 and we would be looking for care beginning June/July 2017. Would love any tips or thoughts, especially if we need to be getting on a wait list soon! Also, if any other expecting moms would be interested in meeting up to talk about nanny share options I would definitely be open to that.



    Congratulations on the first baby! My husband and I are also having our first, a little boy, with due date 12/21/16. We live in Adams Point, so just two blocks north of the lake. We're also thinking about daycare or nanny share. I'd like to meet up to chat about some options and see if our plans might be a good fit.



    Congrats on your first child! Start here - at BPN - to search for childcare. Comb through the listings and think about what kind of situation you want. We had our first kiddo in 2012 and lived in downtown Oakland, and the number of options at that time was very, very small in the immediate neighborhood. Nothing close enough to walk to. Nanny share was not on the table for us due to cost, but we did tour some in-home daycares, mostly on the north sided of the lake, and there were some nice ones. We ended up going with a daycare center in South Berkeley that was just a mile or two past my office, and loved it.

    If you're not looking for care until June or July, I don't think I'd worry too much about wait lists until the new year. Go ahead and tour to get an idea of what you like, if you have the time now, then ask your preferred location about when they do wait lists, and how early you can get on it. Nannies are generally not interviewing more than a month or two out from when the job would start, often even less.

    Good luck!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Finding infant childcare in Alameda

May 2014

We are planning to move to Alameda in the next 6 mos. I am pregnant and due at the end of the summer. We are looking for center-based infant care beginning January 2015. I am surprised by the limited options in Alameda--from my research it seems there are only 3 infant centers on the main island (Small Size, Jumpstart, and Peter Pan). I also cannot find much about these online (yet they are all full with long wtg lists!). We would appreciate any information, feedback, or experiences you can share regarding infant care at these centers. Many thanks! confused in alameda

I would suggest posting your question to the Alameda Parents Yahoo Group, which has 5,000-members. BPN doesn't tend to have so many Alamedans on the list. You may even find out providers that have openings. My child is school-age, but I would tell you that there are a lot of families moving into Alameda, so daycare has become tight. Back in the day, we went with a licensed home day care - we still keep up with our caregiver, and she is completely full these days. Anyway, to find a space you shouldn't limit your options - there are definitely home-based care providers who are licensed on the island. If you haven't already, you should contact Bananas in Oakland, a non-profit subsidized by the county that has lists of all licensed providers and also has workshops/literature on choosing a provider. Good luck in your search! Alameda parent 

Day care for infant - options, waiting lists

Feb 2007

I am 7 months pregnant with my first child, and taking 5 months off. I will be looking for daycare part-time (3 days a week) in August or Sept. I would appreciate tips for finding day care and sugegstions. I am currently looking at family day care, day care centers, au pairs, and other options. How many family day cares and day care centers should I wait list for? Some day care centers are requiring a deposit (non refundable) for the application to be on the wait-list. It's a bit overwhelming. Thanks, Anon

bananas is a great resource. their website is on line but you need to call or go in for specific info. my advice - i had my son in a daycare facility at 7 months for one month. he hated it. the 1:3 or 1:4 ratio is too many infants for one person. keep in mind what they need at this age is love and a few trips to the park. i put my son in a nanny share after the daycare and it was the best thing i could have done. loving nanny and a buddy to play with and go to the park with. i am doing the same for my second. beth

This is probably a question that many face and the options can be daunting. For neither of my two kids I started looking before they were actually there, although I had to return to work much earlier (at 2 and 3 months, resp) than you. Mainly, do your homework now regarding your options: what would you like and what can you afford. Bananas can help with this. My pediatrician recommended starting them in a group as small as possible to cut down on the infections, but we definitely were not able to afford a private nanny, and even a nanny share turned out to be on the expensive end for us. I liked home daycares best, and have found great options for both kids (different situations) that were very small-scale (1-2 kids!) with openings on 2-6 weeks notice. Both kids then transferred to a place with more kids (12 max) when they were just afer 1 year old. Probably if you want to do a center, you will need to sign up for waiting lists, but my daycares don't even really keep waiting lists, they just have openings or not. Kids will suddenly leave, for whatever reason, and there is constant turnover in those places. You will need to do a fair amount of interviewing, and then you'll get the feeling for which situation is right for you and your child. Good luck. Kitty


When to look for infant daycare

Sept 2005

I will be seeking daycare for my then to be 3-month old in January, preferably in the Oakland/Rockridge area. Does anyone have any recommendations for childcare centers that take infants, or thoughts about when I need to start interviewing or putting his name on waitlists? Thanks very much! rrmom

You mentioned that you need childcare for your infant who will be 3 months old starting in January. You'll find only a small percentage of daycare centers (or at-home daycares) take infants. You can go to Bananas to get a list of those that take infants according to geographic location -- I urge you to call and tour them NOW because the demand for infant spaces is high and there is very often a waiting list (especially at the good ones), and you will want your name on the waiting list many months ahead of time. There is no penalty for being on the waiting list although some will ask for a small deposit. If your name comes up and you don't need the spot yet, it gets moved to the top of next month's list.

If you are interested in hiring a nanny, you can start now casually by scanning the BPN Childcare Digest to get a sense of what others are looking for to help you think about about what really matters to you. Then come up with a job description and figure out what you are willing to pay, vacation/holiday policies, etc. I wouldn't start your actual search just yet because people who are available now are looking to start work as soon as possible. We found starting the nanny search in earnest about 2 months before you need care works well. Especially since late December is holiday madness, if you start in early November you should be able to to have a hire by mid-December to start in January with a little buffer time built in. Start in late Oct/early Nov by posting on the BPN childcare digest and contacting potential nannies who post there and see where it leads you. Count on taking a few weeks to interview candidates. Then, you can set up a few days of paid ''training'' before you start work so you can train your nanny and make sure it's going to work out.

Another tip-- if you know of any friends in moms' groups, especially mothers of toddlers, get the word out now that you're looking for a nanny starting in January--- even if they or their friends have a great nanny now, they may be starting their toddler children in pre-school or daycare in January and will be letting their fabulous nanny go. Best of luck! debC

Hi! Bananas has a great workshop on choosing childcare that I found really helpful in answering this (and many other) questions. I noticed their next one is coming up on October 12th. It's free and they'll help you get started looking through their ''database''. I was a serious procrastinator when it came to looking for childcare. I went to this class when my baby was about a month old. If I recall correctly, though, they recommended that we start intensively looking for care about 1-2 months before we needed it since a lot of daycares don't know about openings much farther in advanced. Good luck! Sofia

It has been my experience that many quality childcare centers in the East Bay that accept infants have very long waitlists. Some waitlists take months (even a year!) to clear. If you are looking for childcare in January, I would begin looking immediately. anon

You need to start looking into daycare as soon as possible. I highly recommend AOCS in Oakland (on Brookdale off Fruitvale). It is the only accredited child care center in Oakland and is truly an amazing, special place -- low child- teacher ratios; low teacher turnover and teachers/caregivers who have been there for years and years, and aloving, caring philosophy based on treating each child as an individual and respecting each child's unique needs.

I'm also new at this and will be looking for infant care for my son who will be 4 months old when I go back to work in January 2006. I've signed up for a session at Bananas (the local child care resource and referral agency) on how to choose infant care, scheduled for October 12 from 10 am - 12 pm; you might want to check out this session.

I didn't see the original message, just the responses, so I don't know if there's a particular type of infant care you prefer -- day care center vs. home day care vs. nanny (shared or not). The question of when you should look is highly dependent on what type of care you want. I've heard that if you want a day care center, you need to look many months in advance, i.e. pretty much as soon as you know you're pregnant (of course, that advice doesn't help us adoptive parents much!). I called one day care center about 4 months before I would have needed care, and was told it was full. Other than that, I focused on nanny shares or home day cares.

I started looking into nanny shares about 4 months before I needed care and found this was way too *early*. Most nanny shares offered seem to be for immediate openings or one that is coming up in the next month or two -- if you call about a nanny share now, they may not be willing to wait till January to fill the space. Based on my experience, I'd say that 1-2 months in advance is plenty of time to join an already existing nanny share -- if you're planning to hire a nanny yourself, shared or not, I still wouldn't do it much more than 2-3 months in advance (see the BPN Childcare Digest - most nannies who are looking for a job are hoping to start ASAP).

I eventually decided that I couldn't afford a nanny share, and looked at home day cares, a mere one month -- or less -- from when I was going to need care. I found several with openings (through BPN or Bananas) and eventually chose an absolutely wonderful family day care just 3 weeks before I needed care.

I think a lot of home day cares don't know more than 1-2 months in advance when they'll have openings. I have a good friend who runs a family day care, and I know that's the case with her (she had one woman who called her when she was just 4.5 *weeks* pregnant -- the woman was upset when my friend told her it was too early for her to be looking).

So, based on my experience, I'd say that 1-2 months is plenty for a nanny share or home day care situation. You only need to start as early as possible if you want your child to go to a day care center. Of course, the experience of others may be different, but that's mine.

Good luck! Diane


I found that I needed to have started looking about 1 month before I did. That means, to find adequate infant daycare in Berkeley, you need to start looking TWO months in advance (rather than one, as I had previously heard recommended). Several of the centers I called did not have openings for the next month, but did have some for two months ahead. (This makes it really hard to judge what sort of child you'll have by the time you need care, since a 1-month old can be quite unlike the same child at 3 mos!) I ended up cobbling together care for May (a friend, and my mom), and took a center slot for June.

I also looked into creating a nanny-share arrangement with another woman, though we both decided against it, due to cost. You can list your requirements with Bananas, and hope that people will call.

Also, one should call the places that Bananas has listed, even if the card says they're full. Openings seem to come and go much more rapidly than they update the cards. Dawn