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Your first step into early childhood education & care

What to look for when choosing quality child care for your baby

90% of a child’s brain develops by the time they’re 5 years old, making what they experience in the early years especially significant. Although human beings learn and change throughout life, a child’s early experiences form the basis for development, learning and wellbeing for the rest of their life.

If you’re a stay at home parent, there’s a lot you can do at home to encourage your little one’s development, and if you’re looking for a child care service there’s information available to help you know which one will be best for your baby.

Here is information to help you identify and choose a quality child care service for your baby.

Relationships and interactions

Quality child care for babies involves educators working in partnership with you and getting to know your baby with an ongoing exchange of information about your baby’s needs, routines and experiences.

In quality child care for babies:

  • care is provided by familiar educators who get to know your baby
  • there are opportunities for shared one on one interactions between babies and educators including:
    • holding, talking, looking and smiling or sharing books and play materials
    • engaging in social experiences such as songs, rhymes, finger plays and peek-a-boo games
    • relaxed and comforting physical contact such as being cuddled and being held while being bottle fed
  • crying or distressed babies are held and spoken to in comforting ways to soothe them
  • educators take advantage of opportunities in care routines, such as during nappy changing or meal times, to talk with babies and to strengthen their relationships with infants.

Experiences

Playing and exploring are wonderful ways for children to learn and develop.

In quality child care for babies, your child will be:

  • given opportunities to use skills such as reaching and holding
  • given opportunities to explore the physical environment to develop skills such as crawling and pulling up to stand
  • responded to by educators when they make sounds and attempt to communicate
  • given sensory experiences to explore and develop their five senses; touch, feel, hear, taste and see
  • given natural materials and spontaneous experiences as opportunities to foster their individual development and learning.

Programs for children

Quality practice happens when educators make flexible plans and prepare for babies’ experiences using the knowledge they have about each child’s interests and abilities. In quality services educators are continually reflecting and thinking about how beneficial and enjoyable an experience is for babies and their families, and what improvements can be made.

In quality child care for babies:

  • the service has a variety of both structured and also informal ways of evaluating every aspect of children’s programs with the aim of improving.
  • the daily schedule is flexible and individualised, taking into account the importance of catering for the unique needs and routines of each baby.

The environment

The physical environment plays an important role in ensuring your baby’s safety and promoting learning and development.

In quality child care for babies:

  • the environment is stable and familiar, interesting and rich, with things to look at, touch and listen to. For example, there should be objects for muscle development, such as things to push and pull, balls, large hollow blocks, and hanging things to reach, grasp or kick, and there should be different surfaces to crawl on, such as grass, wood, pavers, rubber, straw matting.
  • the noise and activity levels are manageable. This means that rooms and are not too busy or so noisy that babies get stressed and become overstimulated.

Health and safety

Maintaining children’s health and keeping them safe is the most fundamental responsibility of a child care service.  Working with families and health care professionals, child care services should have effective processes to support all aspects of a baby and child’s health.

In quality child care for babies:

  • the premises, furniture and equipment are safe, clean and well maintained
  • services have effective hygiene practises in place for hand washing, cleaning toys and sanitising surfaces and controlling the spread of infectious diseases
  • there are safe indoor and outdoor areas for babies to practice rolling over, sitting, crawling and standing
  • time spent in play pens, high chairs and strollers is minimal and babies are able to explore their environment
  • sleeping babies are monitored closely and babies are always within sight and/or hearing of educators at all times
  • families are supported to breast feed their baby, and safe, clean and calm spaces may be provided to feeding mothers.

Choosing quality care for babies

It is important that you feel comfortable with the child care you choose for your baby.  When choosing a service, trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to ask questions about what matters to you and your family.

Some questions that you may find helpful include:

  • How will the educators comfort my baby if they become upset, or have difficulty separating from me when they start care?
  • Who is responsible for providing my baby’s nappies? Are cloth or disposable nappies used?
  • Which child care educator/s will be my baby’s main carer/s?
  • What happens if my baby is bottle or breast fed?
  • How will the child care service implement my baby’s home routine while they are at the service?
  • Will my baby be able to use a comforter such as a dummy, blanket or special toy?
  • How will my baby’s development be stimulated in child care?

Visit our Find Child Care section to find a quality service near you.