If you have ever wondered what the signs of a bad daycare provider are, you aren’t alone. There are plenty of parents (just like you) that feel like they are charting unfamiliar territory when it comes to daycare.
We only have in home daycare experience, but my mom worked as a preschool/daycare provider in a daycare center for over twenty years.
That means that I am well-versed in what makes a good daycare provider, as well as a bad one.
Trouble is, it’s a little different when you are amid the situation.
See, people aren’t black and white. That means there isn’t a right or a wrong (usually), but there’s certainly a lot of grey area. Daycare providers are people, so it’s the same with them.
Lots of grey.
We have had experience with five different childcare providers (we moved a couple of times, one had a baby, and one went back to work), although only two were licensed by our state.
SHOULD I CHOOSE A DAYCARE CENTER OR IN HOME DAYCARE?
There are pros and cons to both options. Personally, we chose an in home daycare because I wanted something smalatteler.
You almost definitely will see less kids in an in home daycare.
However, many in home daycare’s (at least in my state) are not licensed. The biggest reason WE wanted to go with a licensed daycare is because we wanted it to be easy come tax time.
With a licensed daycare, it’s much easier to claim the tax cut available for childcare expenses.
Licensed daycare’s are also subject to more rules and regulations–which CAN mean more structure and a better schedule for your littles.
This certainly does not make an unlicensed center WORSE than a licensed one, as licensed ones can break rules too.
You need to find the right person for your kids. Licensed or not–the type of person your childcare provider is will dictate whether it’s a good or a bad experience.
Related: How to Deal with Toddler Hitting
If you are looking for something with less children, more of an age range, and a “homey” feel–find an in-home daycare.
If you are hoping for (potentially) more structure, education, and resources among the providers–go with a daycare center.
SIGNS OF A BAD DAYCARE PROVIDER
LACK OF COMMUNICATION
Bad communication is by FAR the most important warning sign of a bad daycare provider. Being able to openly discuss ongoing issues is paramount to your child’s wellbeing.
Are they defensive?
I want to tell you about someone we are going to call Miss Jane.
Miss Jane was our most recent daycare provider, and it was by FAR the worst experience we have ever had.
She was an older “proper” woman who was from Europe.
She became increasingly defensive about everything.
When she told me that my daughter was yelling “stop hitting!” at no one, I tried to give her some context.
She’s a toddler who doesn’t know the right way to express herself yet. I have heard her yell at the blankets to stop kicking her because she wants them to stop touching her.
When I tried to explain, I was quickly interrupted by Miss Jane—who responded that she didn’t care about the reasoning, she only cared about what happened THERE.
Oh, and she informed me that SHE would tell me what the situation was.
BIG red flag.
If you can’t have a conversation about your child without the daycare provider being up in arms, that’s a sign it’s time to move on.
You don’t have to agree on everything. But you need to be able to have a conversation.
Do they sugarcoat things?
The other problematic (lack of) communication type is the ones who may not communicate if there is a problem.
One of our childcare providers was a VERY nice young mother.
I think she was probably hoping it would work out, and I am sure she didn’t want to worry me.
Regardless, we had a very quick parting when she informed me one day that it just wasn’t working out. Our kids had trouble getting along, but I didn’t realize how much of a problem it truly was until it was too late.
If it seems like there is something going on that your daycare provider isn’t telling you, that’s a sign that you need to have an open conversation, or you may need to start looking elsewhere.
Safety really is the most important aspect of your child’s daycare. The environment is going to play a big part in that.
Do they keep it clean?
Look. Kids are gross. Messes will happen. That’s why it’s super important for your daycare provider to at least try and keep things clean. Gloves, hand washing, and proper food labeling are all important.
Is it childproof?
Even if your little one is past the stage of sticking little fingers into sockets (can’t WAIT for this to be over with my youngest!), you should be thinking about other hazards.
If you are worried that you will forget to check for things like outlet covers and baby gates, download our daycare safety checklist here to take with you.
What about sleep?
We have a toddler and a baby who still nap. When my most recent childcare provider told me that she wanted to put my almost three-year-old (who is in the ninetieth percentile for her height) in a little packnplay, I thought she was crazy.
She ended up putting her in a bed in one of the bedrooms. She was shocked when the curious toddler left the bed in the window-lit room during nap time to explore.
Related: Toddler Biting – and How to Prevent It
Not only was she shocked, but she informed me that my daughter “misbehaved”.
So she bought a pen to keep her in.
Although this sounds a little strange—it was the safest option for my toddler. And probably what the daycare provider should have done in the first place.
With babies, make sure they follow general safe sleep recommendations. No blankets, stuffed animals, or loose sheets.
Either way, make sure if you are doing nap times there, they can accommodate safe sleep for your child.
In the car
Does your childcare provider have adequate space to transport your child in case of an emergency? If not, you need to discuss what their plan is.
If you find out your child was in a questionable situation, it’s ALWAYS okay to get them out.
Miss Jane thought that putting our baby on the couch ALONE was appropriate. In fact, she said all of the “experts” agree that this shouldn’t be problem.
Guess what happened? Baby rolled off of the couch and cried.
And Jane told us she couldn’t promise she wouldn’t put her on the couch by herself again.
Many children are with their daycare provider for more waking hours than they are with their own parents.
It’s a sad reality in today’s world. We all gotta work.
The last thing you want is for your child to be with someone who is cold and detached. This is another sign of a bad daycare provider.
Our most recent provider was severe, authoritarian, and rigid.
Matt and I parent totally differently. We follow authoritative parenting, as is the most recent recommendation from parenting experts. You can read more about different parenting styles here.
Don’t get me wrong—there’s ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with differing parenting styles.
To a point.
Your child will have to get used to many different kinds of people throughout their lives. The nice thing is, you can kind of control WHO they are exposed to right now.
That means while you SHOULD start letting them experience real life stuff, you can keep it somewhat controlled. But you don’t want to be too controlling (because trying to protect them forever doesn’t work).
Make sure that the people your child is spending their days with is going to care for your child like their own.
Structure is SO important in your child’s life.
I attribute our well-adjusted children to this more than I do to (almost) anything else.
Do they have a daily schedule?
There should be a rough schedule of what your child’s day will look like in daycare.
Thing will NOT go according to plan (this happens more often than it should), but there should still be a loose outline.
What are the rules?
Rules are important. They help establish boundaries and actually help your child feel safer in an environment.
You should definitely be wary of a facility that doesn’t have some clear and established rules.
On the other hand…these shouldn’t be ridiculous.
Our latest provider felt that she was going to “teach” our 11 month old that toys shouldn’t go in her mouth by repeatedly ripping them out of her hands every time one went into her mouth.
It is utterly and completely developmentally appropriate for a baby to do this.
Related: How to Make a Perfect Toddler Schedule
If you feel like the daycare provider has too strict of rules–run. This is another warning sign of a bad daycare provider.
Do you know the ratio laws in your state? If not, make sure you find out whether your daycare provider is keeping to them.
Are they educated?
Although they don’t HAVE to be educated to do a good job, it’s a good idea to understand their background.
Our VERY best experience with a daycare provider was with one who had not completed a college degree (I think), while our WORST experience was with the “most” experienced.
Are they CPR certified?
CPR is a SUPER important certification that your daycare provider shouldn’t be without. Not only is it important, but it’s incredibly easy to get as well.
Consider it a huge red flag if your provider hasn’t even taken the time to get properly CPR certified.
LACK OF STIMULATION
For us, a change of scenery was a large part of wanting to enroll our child in daycare. We try to expose our kids to new things as much as is healthy.
Does your daycare provider have different types of activities for your child?
For your baby
Even babies need good stimulation. Make sure your daycare provider has toys specifically tailored for your baby, as well as proper high-chairs and other equipment.
For your toddler
Toddlers get bored. Fast.
Your daycare provider should have plenty of toys that your toddler can rotate between. Make sure they aren’t getting too much screen time, and ask your provider if they make time for arts and crafts.
If you have read this far, you have probably gathered I am a little sore about our bad daycare provider experience Let me say–MOST daycare providers will be good with your children. People are generally good.
You aren’t dating your childcare provider, so it’s okay if you don’t really “click” at first. What’s important is that they create a supportive positive learning space for your child.
Miss Jane inspired me to write this post because it occurred to me just how difficult it can be to know whether or not you are seeing warnings signs of a bad daycare provider, or if you may just be a little “awkward”.
I want to give you a little more background behind the situation and our thinking throughout it, so hopefully you can understand my tips with a little bit of context.
Meeting Miss Jane looked really good—on the outside.
She was licensed with the state, had an education, and had a lot of structure.
When we went to meet her, she introduced us to her family and talked openly about her experience.
These were all good things—but honestly, I should have known to back out in that moment.
She parented with a MUCH different style than what we wanted for our girls. She is very much a “children should be seen and not heard” kind of parent.
The first meeting I knew that I did not necessarily agree with her parenting style (although we did not question their safety).
We were faced with a tough decision. We did not really LIKE Miss Jane, but we felt our girls were safe with her. We lilke to diversify their experiences – and Jane was certainly that.
This was our FIRST experience with a daycare provider that was problematic. In fact, we are still good friends with our first provider (who was up in arms when she heard about “Miss Jane”.)
I felt that (although it was hard) this was probably a good situation for my girls. It was good for them to get used to different kinds of people. We didn’t REALIZE that we had seen signs of a bad daycare provider.
So we tried to stick it out.
Drama soon ensued.
First was the bed incident. Apparently, my toddler was being a “naughty” child because she wanted to explore the well-lit room she was left in to nap.
She decided that my daughter was to sleep in a pen. The conversation left a bad taste in my mouth, as she did not want to listen to reason or context.
It was focused on how my child had misbehaved, instead of looking at the environment and typical behavior of a three-year-old.
Next, she insinuated our toddler was crazy. She brought it up know that our daughter was yelling to “stop kicking” while playing alone (although we later found out she was in a room full of kids). When my husband suggested that maybe she had been kicked earlier, he was quickly shut down because that couldn’t have possibly happened.
Which, whatever. Not saying we didn’t believe her.
(The funny thing was about this WHOLE conversation between the two of them was I SAW a young boy push my daughter three or four times the first day we went, and Miss Jane hadn’t noticed..)
I think it’s fair that we maybe questioned what happened because we know a provider can’t see every little thing a child does in a day.
And honestly…shit happens sometimes. We would not have been upset if there was a little accident at daycare. Hell, our oldest was kicked in the face at nine months while in our favorite provider’s care.
Anyway. Later that day, Miss Jane let me know that my husband had gotten VERY upset during this conversation.
Problem is, my partner is the calmest person I have ever met. But…she wouldn’t communicate about it.
She made us sign an incident report related to the above two things. She wanted to document that our daughter had NOT been kicked and that my husband HAD been bothered by the conversation.
This was another sign that she was a bad daycare provider. I mean, incident reports are common in cases of injuries, but I am not sure what she was trying to document here exactly.
I worked for CPS in an emergency shelter – so I know how these things go.
Next. She failed to make an incident report for letting our baby fall off the couch (and then proceeding to tell us that she would continue putting our baby on the couch).
Not only had our little one fallen off of the couch, but the daycare provider was not technically in the same room as her (although she said she could see her) and did not actually see it happened.
We gently brought it up to her that we weren’t very comfortable with her being on the couch (especially by herself). No accusations…just let her know we didn’t feel safe about it. We were told that she couldn’t guarantee that she wouldn’t do it again.
The last straw–is something we are not going to talk about. Unfortunately, my family has received threats because of this post.
Suffice it to say the girls didn’t go back to Miss Jane’s.
Knowing the signs of a bad daycare provider can be difficult. Because it’s not always crystal-clear – especially from the beginning.
A little thing here. A strange story there.
And before you know it, things are BAD.
Regardless, if you came to read this article because YOU are feeling unsure, you have two good options.
- Pull your child out.
- Talk about it to your provider.
Keep in mind, MOST daycare providers truly do have your child’s best interest at heart. They don’t get paid enough to do something they hate – they WANT to take care of your child.
With five different providers, we only had a bad experience with one.
So talk about it. If you don’t feel comfortable discussing your concerns with the daycare provider, that’s a sure sign that you need to get your child out.
Don’t wait for things to get bad.
What other warning signs of a bad daycare provider have you noticed? Do you have a crazy childcare story? Do you have an inspiring one? I would love to hear about it below in the comments.
Warning signs of a bad daycare provider
Christina Kamp says
As a family home childcare provider, I really appreciate this article. Most articles about childcare are negative. I see that you had a negative experience and didn’t start ranting about how all daycare is awful. It’s not. There are GREAT providers in homes and centers and i really appreciate your perspective on this and how moms can navigate out of something that’s not good for their kids. Your mommy vibe is your most important tool as a mom. I’m grateful you used yours. I’m grateful that you’re trying to help other moms find good quality childcare. And I’m grateful that you left Ms. Jane. I hate that this happened. Thanks for still believing that there are still awesome daycares out there. 🙂
Christina, thanks for the positive feedback. I definitely agree–daycare is NOT awful. I LOVED our first provider and I look forward to finding someone like her. I peeked at your site btw–it’s a great source of information. Thanks again!
I had a home family daycare center for 20 years I was licensed for 12. I had 6 in the morning sand 6 in the evening with a high school helper. Having as many as 2 infants and 4 under the age of 5 . I had everything in a contract. From pay to discipline . We had a big Green chair that was uses for timeout. The only reason I would have used firmer punishment was for total defiance Going out perimeter Of safety or deliberately hurting oneself or another child. My communication was open . If there was a problem , it was discussion the day it happened. My moto was children will tell what they want you to hear. If you are ever in doubt ask!! Every one was on a schedule . I did breakfast for my early one. We all had lunch at the same time and napped at the same time . I had cribs for my babies. Mats for the tottlers. I was in the the room with the tottler. My advice for parents of children . Your children will be happy in the morning to go to daycare , if there is no problems and beg to stay in the evening. Nip every question in the bud . I could go on on. My day care was a success. I never had a single infraction From the state in the 20 years . And we work on a waiting list!
I am also an in home provider and appreciate your story!
Wait is the provider first name really Jane ?
Odika Nneka says
A parent shared her experience with an in home child care provider and I feel its terrible. You know how babies cry to follow adults and the provider beat up the child asking if he was his uncle, fortunately she was caught by the mum. When I asked why she didn’t leave immediately she said she feared what the next provider too will offer. Eventually her husband couldn’t take it and they searched somewhere else. These people sort of make parents loose trust in child care providers. Am glad there a good number of child care providers who love caring for children passionately.
It’s SO true. It’s hard to not let one terrible daycare experience affect our outlook on ALL daycare providers – but it’s like anything else. There are bad people everywhere..I just wish it was more obvious!
Our first licensed in home daycare experience was terrible. She seemed nice, and came recommended by a friend. Dropped off my 3 month old for my first day back at work as the provider says “let’s see how this goes, I haven’t watched an infant in awhile!” Needless to say, it did not go well. My daughter didn’t nap all day, and was exhausted when I came to pick her up. Worst of all, is I didn’t know it wasn’t going well until I called and asked. Her reply, “not good”.
I immediately found a sweet stay at home mama that lived 20 minutes out of my way to work who watched our baby girl until we later moved.
We now are back in a licensed in-home daycare that both of our girls thrive in! Sadly, I think I wouldn’t have known how to find a great provider without a few bumps along the way.
It’s so true and so unfortunate – as our bumps along the way affect our kiddos. Luckily kids are usually pretty resilient. Communication is SO important, and it drives me nuts when the ones taking care of our kids don’t communicate problems with us! We have definitely had better luck with an in-home daycare…I am just hoping our next can be similar to your current situation!
My oldest son who turned 5 in the past weeks went to 8 places in total. Since he has medical issues (special daylie cares) we carefully selected each daycare. But still 3 had put his life in danger by not following the medical plan. We had 3 that were so-so and 2 others that were amazing. He is doing his last months in an awesome daycare with his little sister. Some red flags we have seen: when the caregiver cannot tell you what happened (because she was far from the kids long enough….). When they tell you odd things like that your 3 years olds cannot name what is good/bad behaviors. When they refuse to do something your child need (for exemple give a sbak with medication according to medical recommandation).
I am SO sorry to hear about your experience! I TOTALLY agree with your other points – I may add those into my post later. I am glad that you found a few good ones in the mix!
I have worked in 2 different Daycares, one was great but the other was horrible. As a staff member I have seen red flags from behind the scenes.
1. Is management managing to much? In the bad center if it wasn’t a classroom thing like diapers, and cleaning management did it. That meant they were overworked and left no time to help teachers, even just a bathroom break or full lunch break. The great center had someone to cook, someone to plan lessons, on most days someone to clean, there was almost always someone available to step in if need be. They were mostly incharge of the paperwork and other things like that to keep.
2. How often are teachers sick?
The bad center made me work when I woke up super sick (could barely leave the bathroom). They have had others there with fevers, nausea, pretty much anything. This meant kids were then exposed too. In the good cebter I did have to go in sick once, however it was only for the couple hours they said and they kept me with the older kids so they were more independant, it was also a rare day we were understaffed.
3. If the quit rate is high ask why teachers are leaving.
My bad center had teachers leaving all the time because the stress was unnecessarily high. The good cebter started to have a good amount of teachers leave within a year, most of us left due to life changes, be a stay at home mom, moving too far, medical issues, and other things similar.
When choosing a daycare center try to see what the employees see because often they see more than you can.
Licasa – yes, working at a daycare can definitely give you a whole new perspective on things. I think the questions you ask are valid. I definitely think the turnover rate can tell you a lot about the environment. Thanks for sharing!
Ridley Fitzgerald says
It’s great to know more about choosing the right childcare. I like how you said that when they become increasingly defensive, that’s a bad sign. We’ll go around asking questions, and I’ll make sure to stay away from the facilities that get defensive!
Ridley – glad you found it helpful! I think anyone who is defensive when it comes to our children’s care is something we need to watch out for. Good luck!
R Green says
After sending my children to daycare for 2 years, I myself did in-home daycare for about 2 years, and my kids are back in daycare again.
I thought my first provider was ok and good, but I learned with further providers, and experience as a mom, that many basic needs weren’t being put as important or tracked how I needed them to be. I love that woman, but we both understand, she isn’t made to be a daycare provider. Thus, she is doing other things.
My first provider after that was my first lisenced in home daycare provider. She seemed so educated and had all the paperwork, and the plans, and the weekly newsletter, but When I went to drop off my son the first day, the entire home was messier than I have ever seen a home with 10 kids living in it. The only home I have seen dirtier than hers was abandoned home. My son went there for 3 days, and on day 3 she called me at work and asked if I could pick him up and it wasn’t going to work out. She said he was too sad and not used to being with new people. I was shocked that she would just dump him, but also glad to have something to force me to leave. It wasn’t a great situation at the time.
I quickly found a provider (who I tried to avoid from what I had heard, and that’s why I went with the perfect credentials momma). She loved and cared for my son. She worked on his development, I actualy got a daily report. (which I think is a sign of a GREAT daycare provider… but of course not the only thing that counts.) I loved her and she did so well.
While with her, she had a maternity leave and we tried a new random provider for 2 months. She took my son and 4 moth old girl. I think she finaly put my baby on a schedule (which I didn’t know how to do) and helped sort out my baby. When I went back to the other provider she still did well with my 2 kids, but she didn’t know how to put a new baby on a functionalbe schedule, so she was hooked and driven a bit crazy for about 8 (honestly like 24) months with her new baby girl. She still gave a lot of effort to do well with my children, and I appreceate that. Toward the end of my time with her, she had lost her temper too many times and slapped my son on two differnt occasions. I felt sorry that she had lack of control of herself, but we were done, and I stayed home to do daycare and raise my kids.
I learned the most about being a good mom and daycare provider when I tended for a mom who was very open to ask about what she expected and requested things to change when they weren’t so. She didn’t get all the debates she asked for, but her requests helped me learn how to put kids on a schedule and how to really raise them (not just tv half the time and snacks all day).
I am grateful that mom held fast and asked for what she expected for her kids. It helped my daycare enviroment become better for the other kids, and helped me grow as a mom.
Right now, I am working again. The provider for my 3 kids from 4 to 10 months works well with our special dietary needs, communicates well enough, and tries to follow the schedule I set in place for my kids (even though her plan for 20 years with babysitting was not quite a schedule one.) She isn’t quite what I need for long term, and have noticed onedience issues in my kids. She never tells me about how the kids behave, and I know they aren’t angels, so I know some things she lets slide. But I am very, very grateful that she loves and grandmas them.
For now they just need lots of love. With the hatred and anger my children have sadly been exposed to (some examples they see in our neighbors) I am glad that they can just be loved by our current provider.
R. Green – thank you so much for sharing your story! I think this a PERFECT example of what it’s like in the daycare provider world…there is a lot of good with a little bad and credentials don’t necessarily equate to a BETTER provider (which btw that’s horrifying that someone slapped your kiddo – I’m sorry about that!)
We have to sometimes make compromises and just trust in the fact that other people can care for our kids as their own, but also understand where to draw the line when enough is enough. I think that’s awesome that you chose to do daycare yourself and that it helped you be a better mom. The day we stop being open to feedback and making changes is the day where we are no longer growing as people.
Good luck with the littles <3
My child was given rice cereal during dc (daycare) lunch yesterday. My husband and I had not updated a meal plan to start it and in fact dad decided to take things much slower and is more reserved than i am about the cereal. My child did have vomiting after trying the rice the first time at home, I communicated the vomiting to the dc but didnt communicate not to start cereal to the daycare because I thought it was fine to try it again in very small amounts of course. To make matters more complex my sister came to the daycare and feed our child cereal (as directed by me) this past Tuesday. I guess the daycare thought it was fine after that happened to start Daniel the following day. So dad and I both got confused when we saw our child was given cereal yesterday. I contacted the dc and they apologized for giving it and asked if we wanted to we would need to update my childs meal plan to include rice cereal. I thought maybe they should have told me the plan to start and also so I could pay extra if needed but hubby was a perturbed because of his plans to take the rice cereal slower and now he says really he wanted to start it at home to observe my son more closely (the later never communicated to me before yesterday). Anyway my son did ok with the cereal given at the dc; last night no vomitting. I do think it is time for time to meal progress especially since my breast milk is low and I don’t want to go to formula at this point. Failed communication at all ways but mostly on my family part but still I can’t tell if this is a bad daycare sign.
Additionally, I sent a note to the dc owner about the baby gate in the infant room. I am not sure if it is low enough for a child’s hand to not get trapped underneath. I am sure that has probably never happened but I was alerted yesterday when I picked up my child and I saw another child with her hand underneath it as an adult was walking through it. I mentioned it to the worker and she didn’t even say a word nor did she check on the child (at best maybe she didn’t hear me. I sent my concern via email to the admin, but haven’t heard back yet.
I like the daycare for the most part and it is very positive reputation in the community by many people I know. We are just beginning here so may be I am being over vigilant …your thoughts.
Miriam – so sorry that you guys have been having such a hard time! It’s SO hard to know whether it’s a bad situation or not, especially because our inner mama bear is very fierce when they’re that young. To me, it sounds like a whole lotta miscommunication on all sides.
If it were me, I would probably sit down with the daycare provider and set some clear expectations regarding eating, sleeping, and general play. If they cannot meet your expectations, you will have to make the choice on whether you can compromise on some things, or find somewhere else. I don’t think it sounds like anything they have done is BAD for your child – because different parents make different choices regarding their kids.
If the daycare has a pretty good reputation (especially with friends/family), I would be surprised if the daycare is doing something inherently harmful for your kiddo, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.
Sit down and have a chat with the daycare. If you still don’t feel good after that, consider looking elsewhere. You don’t want it to a situation where the daycare is the “enemy”. Just keep in mind that these people become daycare providers because they LOVE children, and often communication truly is the key to helping us be more confident in situations involving our kids.
I wish you the best of luck with your situation! <3
Ashley Johnson says
I liked that you explained that it is important to find child care services that are licensed so that it is easier to claim the tax cut for the child care expenses. I would imagine that child care would be expensive and that claiming a tax cut would be beneficial for your finacnes. I would ensure that the child care services that I hire are licensed so that I would receive a tax break.
Ashley – yes it’s definitely a good idea! From my understanding, you can still claim child support from a non-licensed provider, it’s just more difficult to do.
I too, provide childcare daily and greatly appreciate your post! I am in my very late 50s and for a couple of years have only babysat for one family. I was doing 5 and on occasion 6, children and loved it. Everything was wonderful with the children and I took them out on trips 2 days per week for activities, but alas, I had trouble with most of the parents either not paying me; or weekly pushing me to take less money than they spent on coffee daily. So irritating that people care more about what frills they can buy daily than the care care of their child. Some parents would not give me their schedules, which was always causing issues with the schedule I had going which I always informed them of several times over the week prior. Some parents simply wanted their children to get preferential treatment, as in ignoring the other children. I believe I treat all of the children as the special individuals they are.
The parents in a bad relationship ended up getting me drug into their police investigations twice because they would accuse each other of child abuse and neglect and me being the babysitter, of course, got investigated. And I felt the only right thing was to be open with all of the parents I babysat for about what was going on. Naturally, parents will be concerned, even if there is no accusation on the babysitter. I am very choosy with who I will babysit for, now. VERY choosy.
In my early 20s I ran my own daycare from my home and had 16 children besides my own 3. I had endless energy and a great age-range of toys and large lawn. There were no licenses in those days. I loved it and had really no issues with parents, back then.
In my experience, I see many parents really do not know what to ask, or what to look for in a childcare provider. They do not even know how to communicate with the provider themselves. I made it a habit to require them to stay and speak with me for 5 minutes each day, for the ones that didn’t just naturally do that. I verbally gave them a run-down of their children’s day, what they ate, the activities they participated in, how they got along with other children, and if they were tired or overly active (usually because of too much sugar before coming to me). I had to make it a rule to provide their foods so the children would get healthy food and would not fight over what the others had.
I have truly never had a child that I could not learn to manage and make happy, but I would continue to babysit based on whether or not the parents and I were compatible. I never would have believed that it would be the parents that created the chaos (they are not there, after all), but that has been my experience this time around. I am so happy with the parents that I babysit for right now and I love the children like my own. I have worked for this family for 5 years and yes, there have been things to work through at times, but this set of parents are like you, very level-headed. They are a pleasure and it is why I stay babysitting, besides the fact that their children have been more like my grandchildren than my darlings that all grew up in Europe and I rarely get to see.
One final thing I would like to say is I think parents really do need to investigate their sitter more. People have a huge variance in spiritual beliefs. One of the oldest daycares in town spoke in a monthly meeting of daycare providers that a successful babysitter can never tell a parent the truth, or they will lose the child and the income the child brings. She also says that she daily chants New Age and Wiccan rituals and spells over the children so she can control them while burning herbs (not just sage). I believe that can really cause some lung irritation for the children. As a parent, you would never know these things. I know that as a parent, I would be very unhappy to find this out. Thank You for this post.
Hi Pamela! Thanks for your thoughtful response. I think it IS really important to see both sides of the relationship. Unfortunately, I think there is a disconnect between a lot of daycare providers and parents – and there’s certainly trouble on both sides of the relationship. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to be dragged into some of the things you’ve dealt with – and I think being very choosey about who you’ll watch is fantastic, for both you and other families. Sometimes a sitter and a parent don’t mesh, and that’s okay. Lastly, I agree with the spiritual point. We are not religious but most people in our area are. We had a sitter that made our children pray before meals, and that’s just not something we believe. Regardless – it sounds like you are a fantastic babysitter and do right by your kids. Thanks again!
Ashley Johnson says
I liked that you said that one thing to consider when planning to enroll your child in a daycare service is to make sure that they are childproof. I would imagine that this would help ensure the safety of your child. I would be sure that my child was enrolled in a daycare system that was safe in order to ensure that I wouldn’t run into any medical problems or emergencies while my child was there.
First World problems says
Thank you for writing this article. We just started with an in-home childcare provider for our three and a half month old. This is day three…and I’m unsure whether this is the right fit. For one, we’re in between a rock and a hard place for several reasons. I’m a speech pathologist in my fellowship year so I have to complete 9 months of work to fully credential (or else I’d still be at home!).. Since February up until two weeks ago, we had been on waitlists and interviewing nannies trying to find someone we felt safe with when the time came for me to go back to work . My husband is an officer in the military and the base we’re at is chalk full of babies and not enough daycares. Last week, we lucked out and found this unlicensed provider, the week before I was to start back at work. She only watches babies, and only two at a time until they’re 18 months. We thought this was great bc it’s so one on one, She’s educated, has had five kids, and is the grandmother of several grandchildren. The week we found her, my husband also got deployed due to an emergency. So it’s me, alone, starting a new job, in a new state, without a support group, entrusting my baby with someone I don’t know. I asked this provider to keep me updated throughout the day because it’s hard for me to leave him. Well she sent me one picture and message the first day, but I haven’t gotten any since. yes it’s only day three, but I asked her to keep me informed throughout the day and she knows all of this background info of new job, deployment, just moved here, etc. There are little things she does that I don’t like. And I don’t know if these things are big enough reasons to quit my job (and put off credentialing) and stay home – or whether to just deal with until a better option opens. So far every time I’ve picked him up he’s been in a swing or rocker – being vigorously rocked – we have a mamaroo but it doesn’t move nearly as fast as these things do. She says he likes the rockers, but I’d prefer that he doesn’t sleep in it (the first day he was sleeping in it). But also haven’t really voiced that (i don’t know why I’m awkward about addressing this!) but she also hasn’t really been telling me where he sleeps or what he does all day. Even when I ask, the information is vague. The only thing I do know, from the vague info she’s given, is that he’s only been getting about 90 mins total of a nap in the 9 hours he’s there. At our house we usually got 3 hour naps, and then some 50 minute naps sprinkled in within that time. And Yes it will probably take some adjustments for him to get into a routine there, but again I don’t feel very informed. Sometimes I’ve noticed she will pick him up under his arms instead of his trunk. And lastly she pats him on the head with more pressure than I’d like on his soft spot (idk if I’m sensitive to this or am just looking for additional things!). The thing of it is, with her experience, shouldn’t she know that a 3 month old needs more than 90 minutes of sleep and how to pick up w baby esp if she’s cared for so many? I’ve kindly given suggestions and understanding with the sleep thing, and am trying to figure out how to address how she picks him up and touches his head but idk if it’s me just doing things differently or of she’s being unsafe. Anyway long story short, looking for suggestions and ideas…
Hi there! I’m SO sorry you’re going through this right now – I can’t even imagine how difficult your situation is. I hope you know I feel for you as a fellow mom…doing this on your own is probably going to be one of the hardest things you’ll go through.
Here’s my take on it.
First off, you’re totally justified in believing that your little one should NOT be put to sleep in a rocker – especially being under 4 months old. The AAP recommends against this. Around two years ago, a baby died after a daycare provider left the baby in a rocknplay. Died. That’s completely unacceptable. I know there are parents that do choose to do this anyway. The fact of the matter is it has been deemed unsafe for a baby to be left unattended and sleeping in one of these. I think it’s completely inappropriate for that to be happening in a daycare environment.
Secondly, picking up your baby without proper support is inappropriate as well..but she may think this is the right “judgment call” depending on your baby’s core strength. Patting on the head may be a little bit iffy too – it’s really hard for most of us to know how hard is too hard. And I agree – ninety minutes is DEFINITELY not enough nap time (even though your point that it may take time to normalize is valid).
It’s possible that maybe you’re a little sensitive to it, or perhaps she just doesn’t remember what’s appropriate with a three month old. Personally, I feel like it may be the latter here (particularly if you’ve reminded her about some of these things).
With our worst daycare experience, the provider had some very questionable sleep standards, and we should have stopped there. I did NOT feel good about it.
Last – I think the most important thing here is that you are uncomfortable with the situation AND she’s obviously not respecting your request for transparent communication. THAT is what’s most worrisome to me. I’m not usually one that is big on intuition necessarily, but this is a situation where you need to trust your gut. If you don’t feel good about it, don’t send your little one there anymore. If you can finish up those nine months later without it being a detriment to your family, I think you should seriously consider it. Even if you are wrong and overreacting (which I don’t think you are) I don’t think you’ll regret spending this time with your little one despite it setting you back (again – as long as it’s not a detriment).
Most providers are not bad people. Most of them have your child’s best interest at heart. With that said – this isn’t true about ALL providers. And you could be wrong about your gut feeling, but what if you aren’t?
I wish you the BEST with everything – hang in there. <3
Worried Neighbor says
I’m a parent, and my child has never gone to daycare. We’ve lived in our home for years, and for the last year and a half there has been an at home daycare next door. We dont know our new neighbors well. My husband has gone to talk to them a few times – their dog was trying to get through our fence – and said they didnt seem like nice people. We both work, but some mornings my husband offices from home or we’re home on days off. When we’ve been in our backyard, we have both heard the woman yelling at the kids. Like really yelling. Things like, “Oh your crying again, I don’t want to hear you crying again! That’s all you do is cry, I’m so sick of you crying! Get in there!” My husband heard this recently, and said it sounded like maybe a 2 year old and that he could imagine, with the level of anger in her voice, her yanking him inside the house. We’ve never HEARD signs of physical abuse, but both feel that a provider should have the same level of patience as a PRE-K teacher with the kids they care for. This woman clearly, has zero patience. We have never once heard her speak kindly to them. Yesterday, we were under a heat advisory, it was in the humid mid to high 90s before 11 a.m. and she was sitting on her shaded back porch yelling while the kids were playing in the backyard. One kid was upset about something and wanted to go inside and started crying. She told him no and apparently he went to her and she yelled at him,”No, you can’t cry up here, you go stand out there and cry!” I want to report this daycare or at least get someone there for a surprise visit. I’ve talked to a few people that tell me there are no SURPRISE visits, that they always know when someone’s coming and are on their best behavior. Also, it would have to be anonymous as we have to live next to these awful people. Am I being an overprotective mom-type? I would be livid if someone treated my child that way. What should I do?
Hi there! I’m so sorry that I didn’t see this comment earlier. I hope everything is going okay with the kids at the daycare next to your home. Personally – I would definitely call the state and have them investigate – that sounds horrible to me! It may be nothing, but it COULD be something and I feel like it’s ALWAYS best to be cautious. If you wanted to, you could let the state know you’re worried that they won’t see the same issues you’re seeing. I’m not sure, but perhaps if you can get it on tape they will take the problem more seriously. I would consult with them before doing anything though – as I’m not sure of the legality of doing this. I would be livid as well if someone treated my kiddos that way!
Roseanne Katrice Appleby says
Definitely report. In England this is anonymous but I don’t know about the US. These children are experiencing verbal and emotional abuse and this woman should not be licenced.
Eileen Benson says
I like your tip to ask if they have a daily schedule. My brother needs to find daycare for his daughter. Your advice should help him interview daycare centers and choose a good one!
Hi Eileen! I’m so glad that you found it helpful! Best of luck to your brother.