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Communicating with Your Daycare Provider

Successful child care arrangements require teamwork. Here's how you can build a strong caregiver relationship so that you and your little one get the most from your day care provider

Having a good feeling about the child care arrangement you’ve made for your baby is like knowing you’ve put together a dream team. But don’t drop the ball after drop-off. Foster a successful caregiver relationship by being like all good coaches — keep your team members motivated and informed. Check out this game plan for communicating with your day care provider so that the child care experience is win-win for all (especially your baby). Go team!

Play by the rules: The most important — pick up your little one on time. But on those rare days that you can’t (we’re all human), call as soon as you can to warn your day care provider that you’ll be late. Being on time with payments and any forms you need to turn in (like medical health releases) will also help foster a great caregiver relationship, as will keeping your baby home when she’s sick. You know better than anyone that child care is a tough job, so make things as easy as possible for your infant caregivers.

Tune in to the right channels: Find out how your day care provider plans to keep you in the loop about special events and your baby’s progress. If your baby’s in group day care, check to see if there’s a regular newsletter, e-mails, or a central bulletin board. Does the center offer a video-cam, where parents can log on to a website and see their child playing? Will you get emails or verbal reports from the family day care provider?

Share intelligence: Remember, you’re on the same team. Give your day care provider the scoop on anything that will make her job easier: your baby’s likes and dislikes, the best way to calm her down, her food and nap preferences. Also, let her know about anything new going on that may affect your little one during the day (your tot just started teething or she didn’t sleep well last night).

Open a dialogue: If a problem arises, discuss it as soon as possible. But don’t ambush your infant caregiver during busy drop-offs or pickups (those times are better for casual, quick conversations). Instead, set up an appointment to talk when she can give you more of her attention (besides, this one-on-one time is great for strengthening your relationship).

Treat her with respect: Yes, Mom usually knows best, but talk to your day care provider like the pro she is. Think of it this way: How would you want your boss to talk to you? When discussing a problem, don’t jump to conclusions. Bring it up by asking questions in a neutral tone (“Lately, Maddie has been very cranky with me at the end of the day. Can you tell me what she’s like during the day? Is she fussy and cranky with you, too?”).

Stay open to suggestions: Of course you don’t want your day care provider to act defensive with you, so be open-minded if she has suggestions about caring for your baby. After all, isn’t that why you did all that research before hiring her — to make sure she knows what she’s doing?

Don’t be a stranger: Another way to strengthen your caregiver relationship — and sneak in extra time with your sweetie? When work allows, volunteer to help with an activity or outing, or just visit and have lunch with your tot. It’s a great way to ease your mind and find out how your little one’s doing. Chances are, your child’s caregiver will appreciate the help (and the grown-up company).

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