38 VITAL Questions To Ask Daycare! FREE PRINTABLE LIST

By Paula McLaren •  Updated: 10/03/22 •  12 min read  •  Preschool » Preschooler Parenting Advice

So your little one is ready to go to nursery… What an exciting new chapter in their lives!

But now you’ve got the challenging job of finding questions to ask daycare staff to ensure your child is going to get the best care and support whilst they are there.

Apart from… I’ve already done the hard work for you.

Here are 38 of the most important questions to ask daycare staff before you sign up to ensure you know everything about the provider you are sending your children to.

Questions to ask daycare Featured

What Questions Should I Ask Daycare?

Knowing the right questions to ask your prospective daycare provider is hugely important. They will help you make one of the most important decisions regarding your little ones’ care in the early years.

1. Carer To Child Ratio?

In the UK there are strict guidelines that must be adhered to with regard to carer-to-child ratios and these are checked by OFSTED regularly.

In other countries, the rules that apply to the childcare industry may vary, so it is a good idea to check that the centre has a healthy carer-to-child ratio of about 1 adult to every 3-4 children.

2. Are Staff Background Checked?

This is one of the questions to ask daycare staff that goes without saying… And it is one of the most important questions to ask daycare centres too.

Ensure you also ask about cleaning and maintenance staff.

3. How Are Children Greeted?

Check if children are greeted individually or whether it is up to the parent to settle them into the class every day.

4. What Qualifications Do The Staff Have?

It is very important to know how qualified the people who are going to be looking after your child are. Are if there are training staff on site, how are they monitored and supervised?

5. Are Children Divided Into Groups By Age? If So, How?

Another important question to ask is: Does the daycare centre have facilities to divide the children into different age groups? For instance: babies, toddlers and preschool?

This may be useful to know especially if you have siblings who you’d like to keep together or if you’d prefer to have your child attend age-specific activity sessions with their peers.

6. Do The Age Groups Mix At Any Time?

Following on from above, another one of the important questions to ask daycare centres is: Do the age groups mix at any time?

7. What Is The Induction Policy For New Children?

Ask how new children are settling into the daycare centre. This is especially important if you have a nervous or shy child and want to ensure they settle in well.

8. Do The Children Spend Time Outside? If So, Where? 

All of these mini questions about outside time are very useful to know before signing up your child to daycare to ensure you are prepared for any outings in advance.

9. Will I Be Contacted If My Child Is Upset?

Another one of the questions to ask daycare centres is to check if you will be told or called if your child is very upset. This will give you peace of mind and can ensure you have the correct methods of contact available for these situations.

10. How Are Children Comforted?

Are children at the daycare offered cuddles and support when upset or hurt?

11. What Types Of Play Activities Are The Children Offered?

This is a very important question to ask daycares as you will want your little one to be offered a variety of play experiences to further their development.

12. Is There A Structured Daily Routine?

One of the other very important questions to ask daycare staff is if there is a daily routine that revolves around periods of free play, structured outdoor activities, meals and nap times.

From this, you can see whether your family’s daily routine will merge well with the daycare’s.

13. Are Food And Snacks Provided?

Some daycare centres will feed your child, others will expect you to send packed lunches and snack provisions.

If they do provide food, ask to see the kitchen and ask about the variety of food they supply and their policy on sweets to ensure they meet your expectations and standards.

14. What Do Parents Need To Provide On A Daily Basis?

Find out if you need to supply nappies, nappy cream, change of clothes, breast milk or bottle feeds, shoes for going outside or wet weather gear.

Most daycares will have a limited supply of spares, so it’s worth double-checking what you need to bring.

15. What Is The Approach To Discipline?

Be sure to ask your prospective daycare provider what child discipline techniques they apply.

And ask how they deal with a child that hits or bites and how they settle disputes between peers to ensure your parenting methods are consistent with what the daycare follows. Consistency is key.

You don’t want one rule for home and one rule for daycare!

16. What Is The Drop Off And Pick Up Policy?

Another of the important questions to ask daycare centres is about knowing exactly HOW, WHEN and WHERE to drop off and collect your child from.

17. Are Children Attending Required To Be Up To Date With Vaccinations?

For some daycare centres, vaccinations are a must-have. Therefore, you may need to get your little one up-to-date with any vaccines they require before they join daycare.

18. Are Any Of The Staff Medically Trained To Deal With Emergencies?

An important question to ask is, does the centre have at least one medically trained member of staff, who has completed a pediatric first aid course and knows infant CPR?

If the worst were to happen, you want to ensure that there is a trained staff member on hand to help your child in an emergency.

19. Is A Daily Report Made Available?

Will you have access to a daily report of how your child’s day has been and what they have been up to?

20. What Is The Policy For Late Pick Ups?

Enquire if you will be charged for late pick-ups (some daycares charge $15 for every 15 minutes you are late) and ask how your child is cared for in the event of a late pick-up.

This is one of those questions to ask daycare centres that often gets forgotten, but it’s very important!

21. Can Parents Check In To See How Their Child Is Doing?

You may find reassurance in knowing you can check in to see how your child is doing throughout the day.

Check what the policy is about this at any potential daycare centres.

22. What Is The Policy For Recording Illness And Injury?

Each daycare will have a different policy for recording illnesses and injuries, so make sure you know what they are.

23. How Are Nap Times Handled And Where Do They Take Place?

Another great question to ask daycare staff all about sleep.

24. Are All Areas And Toys Disinfected And Cleaned Regularly?

This is an important question to ask as you do not want your child playing in unhygienic areas!

25. Is There Support For Potty Training?

Some daycare centres will provide support with potty training whilst others will not.

If you need help with potty training, make sure you choose a daycare centre that will support you!

26. Are There Facilities For The Use Of Cloth Nappies?

With more people using cloth nappies ask how the centre deals with this.

Are you expected to provide bags to have the nappies returned to you or does the centre provide nappies themselves?

27. Is There Provision For Special Diets?

One of the crucial questions to ask daycare centres if your child has a special diet (vegan, nut-free, lactose-intolerant etc) is whether or not it can be catered for. And if they cannot, you must ask if you are able to send food in with your child.

Most daycare centres will be very happy to integrate your child’s home-cooked food into their normal feeding schedule.

28. Is There Sufficient Storage For Milk Feeds?

Some daycare centres will ask you to bring the milk feeds already made up… others will make them up for you.

Therefore, check where they store the feeds, where they are made up (if applicable) and how they know which feeds are for which baby.

29. Are Visitors Permitted?

Be sure to ask if visitors are permitted and, if so, how they monitor them.

Prior permission should always be given and a list of permitted visitors should be kept on record.

30. How Do You Regulate Who Picks Up Children?

One of the most important questions to ask daycare centres, I believe, is to establish whether or not there an approved list of who is allowed to pick up children and how is this monitored.

You do not want a stranger or estranged family member collecting your child without your permission!

31. What Security Measures Are In Place?

Following on from the previous question, do they have any additional security measures like an intercom, secure-buzzed entry and security cameras?

32. Do They Administer Medication?

Ask what their policy is for administering medicines and how they are stored and recorded.

33. What Is The Sick Child Policy?

Do they ask that children with colds stay at home and notify all parents of any illnesses that are circulating?

In the UK, there are what are known as ‘notifiable diseases and infections’ that have to be posted clearly and the parents must be informed if there has been a case in the centre.

However, this can vary from country to country and state to state… But it’s certainly information worth knowing…

34. Is The Daycare Centre Licenced/Registered?

Again, this will vary depending on where you live. But some form of accreditation should be required and regular checks made by some governing bodies such as OFSTED (UK).

35. Is There Any Preschool Education Provided?

If the centre takes preschoolers do they follow a preschool curriculum for school readiness?

36. What Holidays Are Celebrated?

Another one of the important questions to ask daycare centres is to ask what holidays they celebrate. You want to ensure your choice of daycare aligns with your own celebrations as a family.

37. Is There A Refund Policy For Absences Due To Illness Or Holidays?

Check if the fees policy allows for refunds for absences.

38. Is Sunscreen Provided? 

Some daycare centres will ask that you provide sunscreen when required and others will have a supply of their own and sun hats for playing outside. Again, this will vary from country to country.

Free Printable Questions To Ask Daycare Checklist

As a helpful guide, here is my complete list of questions to ask daycare centres in a handy printable PDF meaning you can take this list and fill in the answers at every daycare you visit.

Simply click the link below to open it up:

Questions to Ask Day Care FREE Printable

Questions To Ask Daycare

What Makes A Great Daycare?

Choosing a daycare provider is a big deal.

These are the people you will be handing your child over to, to care for and provide nourishment both developmentally and physically.

So they need to live up to all the essential expectations that you would have for an establishment that is going to look after your child on a daily basis.

Therefore, making sure you choose the right one for your child is so important. 

So, when you visit a daycare centre, ask plenty of questions, look around to see if the children appear to be happy and watch how the staff are interacting with the children.

Happy children and engaged staff make for a great daycare.

A good daycare centre will be very well informed about child development too and they will have a fixed schedule and play programs that offer a variety of play activities that cover all aspects of developmental play.

TOP TIP: Trust your gut.

You know your child better than anyone and if you will feel the daycare is somewhere where your child will be happy and feel secure then go for it.

However, if anything feels off, then it is probably not the right choice.

The BEST daycare centres will have good reviews and references so look them up online and talk to your friends and family to see if they can recommend any to you.

What Is The Best Age For Daycare?

There is no best age for daycare.

It all depends on your need to return to work, the child’s personality and which age group they fit into…

So you need to bare in mind:

Children under the age of 3 will benefit from a low child-to-carer ratio as babies and toddlers need a lot of 1-to-1 attention and do not need to spend lots of time with children their own age in order to develop socially.

Putting your baby into daycare is a very personal choice and will be based on your emotional and economical needs. 

In an ideal world, under 3’s would stay with a primary carer… however, this is not always possible so choosing the right daycare for the younger child is extremely important.

If you do have to put your baby or toddler into daycare, then make sure that they have adequate facilities to give the age group of your little one the attention they need.

TOP TIP: The younger the child, the smaller the daycare group should be.

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Paula McLaren

Paula McLaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the childcare industry as a Norland Nanny since 1982. Since then, her mission has been to help parents become the best they can possibly be. And each year, she continues to help more families understand their child's development, the trials and joys of parenting and of course, how to care for their little ones.

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