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Whether daycare is a nice-to-have or need-to-have for your family’s schedule, you may find yourself wondering if the best age to start daycare overlaps with when your family feels baby should go to daycare. Learn how to tell if your child is ready for daycare—if it’s a choice your family can make based on readiness.

 

Considerations for Starting Daycare

Some families may wait until the age of three to start their child in preschool or daycare, but that is often not possible for many families. That means the best age for your baby to start daycare depends on the needs of your family and the needs of your baby.

Some families may begin their daycare search before baby arrives while others may just be starting. Look for a safe, caring and stimulating environment that provides your child with the best opportunities to learn and grow.

Part of knowing when baby should start daycare includes understanding the realities and needs of your family:

Family Considerations

  • Maternity and paternity leave options for working parents

  • Work schedules of working parents

  • Financial responsibilities and budget availability

  • Schedule demands of parents who don’t work outside the home

  • Schedule needs of other kids in the family

  • Childcare options amongst family and friends

Baby Readiness Considerations

  • Age—many daycare centres do not admit babies younger than six weeks

  • Whether or not baby was born prematurely

  • Whether or not baby has special needs

FINDING THE RIGHT CHILDCARE

Choosing the right childcare is in an important decision for the entire family. Some families may choose a single caregiver while other families may choose center-based or homebased childcare center. It is a personal choice to see what works best for your family.

If you are looking for a caregiver, consider the following:

  • Experience with children and understands child development

  • Provides a stimulating environment that encourages learning and growth

  • Responsive to a child’s emotional and physical needs

  • Collaborates well with family members and listens to concerns

If you are looking for a centre-based or home-based childcare:

  • Safe, smoke free and clean environment with a small number of children per staff

  • Professional staff that have had appropriate screening (e.g. police checks, immunization)

  • Allows for outdoor and indoor play along with a quiet space for naps

  • Provides age-appropriate activities that encourage learning

  • Serves nutritious meals and snacks

What to Do if Daycare is a Necessity & Not a Choice

There are myriad reasons why sending a little one to daycare is a need and not a choice that can be made based on baby’s age and developmental milestones. If daycare is a must-do for your family, you can work to ensure daycare separation anxiety is minimized no matter their age. If you find yourself feeling some guilt about going back to work and placing your little one in daycare, rest assured knowing that current research supports daycare decisions based on the needs of the whole family as a healthy choice

No matter what brings your family to decide it’s time that your baby should go to daycare, with careful planning and staying involved, daycare can be a positive, nurturing place for your little one to learn and grow happily and healthfully.