Daycare, Your Child's Age, And What You Need To Know

What is the best age to send your child to daycare? If you're not sure when to enroll your child in an early learning program, take a look at the top questions parents have about age, development, and care answered.

Is Your Child Too Young?

The answer to this question depends on your child and the program. Some child care centers serve families with children as young as six weeks old. If the center has an infants' room, teachers/staff with the experience and expertise necessary to care for barely more than newborns, and the right equipment (such as cribs), you can send your young infant to the program.

Ask the center director what ages they typically accept. If they do routinely accept newborns, you should discuss specifics, such as the number of infants in each classroom, the number of teachers/caregivers, and the age ranges. The center should meet minimum state or local licensing requirements for adult-to-child ratios (or the number of trained adults present at all times for a set number of children).

According to U.S. Administration and Families, Office of Child Care, infant rooms with children under 12 months old should have an adult-to-child ratio of one caregiver for three to four babies. Each room should have no more than six to eight infants total. The ratio and maximum capacity numbers may vary by state or local area.

Is the Program a Daycare or Preschool?

Child care centers and preschools are not always the same. Some centers have preschool programs. This means the school may accept younger children (such as infants and toddlers) along with older preschoolers. But a preschool that doesn't of separate care services may not accept children under three or four years of age.

Do You Need Someone Else to Care for Your Child?

Parents who work from home or outside of the house will need extra help to care for their children. Your infant, toddler, or preschooler needs 24/7 attention and supervision. If you need to work (even if you work online from your living room), your child may need daycare.

Even though your baby or young toddler needs someone else to care for them, it isn't always easy to leave your child with someone else. Whether your children have separation anxiety or you do, a high-quality center with knowledgeable, caring staff members can make the transition smoother for everyone. Ask the program's director or your child's soon-to-be new teacher for tips that may help your family during this process.