Ask the Mamas: What Do I Ask A New Daycare Provider?

Each week we will ask our mamas a question from our readers that pertains to babies, toddlers, or parenting. Make sure to check back each Tuesday to see their responses!

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MSW reader Lisa asks:
I’m currently looking for a new daycare provider. What kinds of questions should I ask, or things should I be looking for, when choosing a new daycare provider?


When we put Gavin in the home daycare center he is in now, I contacted all the references that were provided. I asked them the following questions:

  1. How you would rate your overall experience with the daycare center (home)? How would you rate your overall experience with the provider herself?
  2. What is your favorite thing about the provider? What is your least favorite thing?
  3. Would you hire her again?
  4. How do your children react to the provider? Has their behavior changed at all since being in daycare (good or bad)?
  5. How would you rate the one-on-one interaction between the provider and your child? Do you think your child gets enough one-on-one time?
  6. Do you think the home has adequate space for the children? Is there enough to do, and are they kept occupied during their time there?
  7. Have you had any issues or problems with the daycare provider during your time with her?
  8. Does your child enjoy his/her time spent at the daycare? Is she/he happy when you pick them up?
  9. How do feel about the meals/snacks that are provided? Does your child enjoy the food? Do you feel she provides healthy options?
  10. Have you or your child ever experienced an emergency situation at the daycare? How was it handled?  -Melissa T.

Image by Acik

I can’t imagine leaving our current daycare provider, but if we had to make a switch, I’d be sure to ask the following (in addition to basic questions like cost and hours):

  1. How often is the TV on during the day?
  2. How often do you wash your toys?
  3. How do you discipline children in your daycare?
  4. How do you handle picky eaters?
  5. How do you soothe children when they’re upset?

I’d have some additional questions if we were switching when our youngest starts daycare, because he’ll be only about six months old:

  1. How do you introduce new foods to children?
  2. Are parents allowed to send food in?
  3. Do you provide formula and/or milk?
  4. If my child is nursing, are you aware of the differences between feeding breastfed children and formula-fed children? -Mary Ellen M.

There are a few of the basic, but important questions I made sure to ask —

  1. Are you CPR certified?
  2. How many children do you have in your care?
  3. What ages do they range from?
  4. How many are in school during the day?
  5. What would happen if there were an emergency and you had to leave, who would be there for the kids?
  6. How much experience do you have in childcare?
  7. How do you discipline unruly children?
  8. Do you provide meals, drinks, and snacks?
  9. Do you do any crafts or activities with the children during the day for learning and stimulation?
  10. How do you deal with potty training?
  11. When is nap time, where do they nap, and what do you do if the child refuses to lay down? - Sam A.

The questions will definitely vary based on what type of provider you are hiring (e.g., nanny, in-home provider, daycare center) but I think the main questions I would ask regardless of the type of setting would be:

  1. How much experience does the provider(s) have watching children in the age range of your child?
  2. What are your views on discipline and/or handing a crying baby?
  3. How much time is spent during the day on different activities? What type of equipment do you have available to facilitate different types of learning (So this answer will depend greatly on the child’s age, but does it fit with your view of what should be happening at any given time with your child). - Corey P.

Among the other questions that have been already mentioned, I’d ask the following:

  1. How flexible are you with pick-up and drop-off times?
  2. Is there a late pick-up fee of any sort?
  3. Should we provide snacks and a sippy cup for our child or will these be provided by you?
  4. Are you willing to change cloth diapers?
  5. If we’re using disposable diapers, do we provide diapers and wipes for our child or do you provide that?
  6. What ‘supplies’ do we need to bring on a daily basis for our child?
  7. Will you take her in a car ever?
  8. Do you go on walks through the neighborhood or to the park?
  9. What is your emergency plan if something happens? -Cassie W.

Most of the mama’s have already suggested the questions I would ask. Obviously when we were looking for an in-home provider, I wanted to make sure that they had experience, didn’t just plop the kids in front of the TV all day. I also wanted to make sure they gave them nutritious meals. But most importantly, I NEEDED to feel comfortable with them and I wanted Cassidy to ‘click’ with whoever we chose. They can have all of the experience, education, etc. in the world, but if you and your child aren’t comfortable with them, it just won’t work out! - Kathy S.


The advice given here is solely based on our individual experiences and in no way is it going to be perfect for every mama, every baby, and every situation. None of us are medical doctors. If you have a question regarding a medical topic we can give our opinions, but please consult with your doctor. We are not liable or responsible for the results of following any specific advice in any given situation.

 What Do I Ask A New Daycare Provider?

By Corey P.

Corey lives in a suburb of Denver with her husband and boys Landon and Ryan. She stays busy with two little ones under 2 years old! Corey spends her weekdays working with kiddos at Children's Hospital Colorado as a Developmental & Learning Specialist but loves more than anything coming home and spending time with all of her boys! On weekends she enjoys spending time outside, cooking, and turning her house into a home.

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2 Responses to Ask the Mamas: What Do I Ask A New Daycare Provider?

  1. Pingback: Tips For Being A Good Daycare Parent Mama Say What?! | Mama Say What?!

  2. I see this is an old article but here are a few more questions you might want to ask:
    Is the center/home care provider licensed by the state? (you can’t expect them to be held to those laws if they are not operating under the state)
    Is the center/home care provider accredited? this is different that being licensed, only the centers/providers that meet the standards for “high qualtiy care” are accredited
    Does the center/provider have insurance for their business? If something (God Forbid) happens and the person does not have insurance you might be out of luck when it comes to compensation.

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