What to Look for in an Infant Room

by Dawn Johnson, former Child Care Answers QUALITY Coach

Every parent’s worst fear is leaving their child with an unsafe child care provider. Just looking around the care provider’s room can give you insight into how safe your infant is and the quality of care they will be receiving. A few things to observe and evaluate are your child’s caregivers, the quality of the room, toys and supplies in it, and the importance your child’s center places on parent communication and family engagement.

CAREGIVERS: WHERE ARE THEY AND WHAT ARE THEY DOING?

Excellent infant caregivers will be constantly engaged with the infants both physically and verbally. Infant caregivers should spend the majority of their day sitting or lying on the floor with the infants, talking about the infant’s actions “You have the measuring cup in your mouth. It is metal. How does it feel/taste?” and talking about what is happening around them “Aiden is reaching for your hand.”

You should hear the caregivers announce what is coming next, “I’m going to wash my hands and get your bottle warmed up” or “You’re bottle is ready, and I’m going to pick you up so we can wash your hands”. You might also hear a caregiver respond to an infant’s cry with reassurance when involved in a caregiving moment with another infant, “I can hear you crying, you are safe. I am feeding Sam right now and will feed you next.” The caregivers should be aware of each infant and available to meet each infant’s needs by placing themselves near the infants and engaging with the infants.

SUPPLIES: ARE THEY GOOD QUALITY AND AGE APPROPRIATE?

Here’s a short list of items that compliment an infants’ explorations:

  • Shatterproof mirrors
  • Balls
  • Items to grasp such as rattles
  • Items to chew on such as teethers
  • Blocks
  • Measuring cups
  • Buckets
  • Items to fill buckets that cannot fit in baby’s mouth
  • Sturdy furniture to pull up on and cruise around
  • Books that represent the routines in their world
  • A variety of colors

These items are open ended and allow for infants to begin problem solving. None of the items should be broken or hazardous to infants.

FAMILY: IS IT WELL-REPRESENTED?

Each infant’s family should be represented in the room through photos, favorite books, songs, and culture. Photos might be found on cribs, in photo books, on the floor, on walls or shelves-anywhere that the infant might be able to see the photo. We also hope that when possible, family members will stop by the room or stay for a few minutes at drop off or pick up to show the infant that the infant room is a safe place for exploration.

Although there is an endless list of things a parent should look for, this is a good start to feeling comfortable with your infant’s care provider. If any of these things are missing in your infant’s room, talk to a teacher in the room to express your concerns. If you need help finding high-quality infant care need you, Child Care Answers can help. Their Child Care Referral Specialists can be reached at 1-800-272-2937.

Cover image by Flickr user Anthony DoudtCreative Commons license.

29 responses on “What to Look for in an Infant Room

  1. Alexandria Martinez

    It is so important to me that my niece and godchild is taken care of. My brother is thinking about putting her into an infant care and I wanted to help him make this decision. As we look, we will look for a place that offers good quality and age-appropriate toys.

  2. Lisa Resnick

    An infant room is primarily designed to meet our baby’s needs. No set schedule works there. Rather individual plans are designed to take best possible care of our babies. We can expect our little one to be fed on demand or however we desire them to be fed. A written daily plan is worked out daily in order help us taking proper care of our precious little one. This daily plan includes at what time baby woke up, when they ate last and other important instructions about them. In the infant room different items such as shatterproof mirrors, balls, toys, blocks, measuring cups, buckets should be supplied.

  3. Kayla

    My sister needs to go back to work soon because her maternity is over and there’s no one where she can leave her child with. My mom thinks that it will be a great idea to leave the baby in childcare. Furthermore, it was stated here that the supplies that left should be age appropriate.

  4. Lilia Robberts

    You nailed my worse fear! My pregnancy leave is over and I want to find a safe child care provider. Thank you for letting me know that to find a good infant care place they will take care of two things: physical needs and verbal needs. I’ll make sure that the service I find, that they will do as you suggest and talk to my child.

  5. Amy Winters

    I’m glad you pointed out that we should take a look at the infant care room to make sure there are no broken or hazardous items. I’ll need to get a job soon, so I’ve been looking for a child care center to take care of my baby girl. I hadn’t been considering the items in the infant area as an important factor, so thanks for pointing out that I should!

  6. Gillian Babcock

    My sister needed to go back to work and she needed people who can take care of her children. It was suggested here that when looking for a center, it will be best to check their toys like blocks. Furthermore, it’s recommended to consult child care experts when looking for child care centers.

  7. Gillian Babcock

    My sister just gave birth and she’s not able to take care of her child right away. It was explained here that an infant room should have age appropriate things. Moreover, it’s recommended to also hire a professional caregiver who’s able to take care of her child.

  8. Gillian Babcock

    My brother will be going back to work and he wants to make sure that his son will be taken cared for properly when he’s away. It was mentioned here that caregivers are constantly engaged with the child physically and verbally. Furthermore, it’s recommended to hire professionals for quality childcare service.

  9. Dean Phillips

    It was great how the article mentioned how excellent caregivers are constantly engaged with the infants both physically and verbally. My wife is pregnant and we are looking for a place that will be able to look after our child once my wife is ready to go back to work. It’s good to learn what qualities we need to look for in a daycare center before we make a decision on who would be the best choice for our child.

  10. Camille Devaux

    I really like that you mentioned the importance of having items that even adults can use. Using a measuring cup for an infant to learn with is a great skill. It is nice to know that you can look into this to find a childcare center and I am sure that my sister would love knowing this as she looks.

  11. Daphne Gilpin

    I like your suggestion to choose a caregiver that is aware of each infant’s needs and engages with each of them. My husband and I need to choose a child care center to watch our new daughter when I start working again. I wasn’t sure what qualities to look for as we start our search, so your tip about awareness and engagement will really help out!

  12. Hazel Owens

    That’s good to know that you should hear a caregiver talk to your kid when they are helping to make sure they will respond and be aware of their needs. This is helpful since I’m trying to find a daycare to take my son to while I go to work. I’ll have to visit a few to see how they treat the kids so I can make sure they will talk to him even though he can’t respond well right now.

  13. Derek Dewitt

    I am looking for a daycare for my son this year. I like your point about choosing a location that allows exploration without the hazards. I’ll be sure to find a place that offers sensory activities.

  14. Sandra Patterson

    My son is only about 6 months old, but I have had to get a job recently to be able to support our family. I really appreciate your comment about how an infant caregiver should be constantly engaged both physically and verbally. I will be sure to look around for a good establishment that seems adept at caring for children.

  15. Amy Winters

    I hear that it is very hard for a mother to part with her child after maternity leave is over. I appreciate that you write about items that compliment an infants room in a child care center and that the items are open-ended and allow for infants to problem solve. I assume that this information helps mothers look for the best child care centers in their areas.

  16. Benjamin Andrews

    I like that you suggest checking the supplies and items in the daycare before taking your child. My wife is ready to go back to work so we have been looking into places we can take our little man while we are both working. I will send this information over to her so we can make sure he will be safe.

  17. Elisabeth Southgate

    I liked that you said excellent caregivers will be engaged with the infants. It is great when infants can have attention from their caregivers. I love it when a baby’s face lights up when you engage with them.

  18. Thomas Jameson

    It’s good to know that quality daycares will have constant interaction set up with the infants in their care. My wife and I recently had our first child, and my wife is getting a little stir-crazy while being stuck at home. She wants to get back to work, so we’ll keep this information in mind as we search for quality daycare providers.

  19. David Johnson

    Thanks for explaining that good care givers will constantly be engaged with the infant. Personally, I think this is important, because you definitely want your child to feel loved. I’ll have to look more into infant rooms and child care.

  20. Eli Richardson

    My sister is in need of a care center to look after her children when she is at work. I like what you said that a caregiver should be available to meet a child’s needs. I’m glad I read your article because I think that your tips will really help her find the right daycare.

  21. Randy Chorvack

    I really like how you said that the mirrors should be shatterproof. It would be really sad if your baby somehow broke the mirror and got cut. It’s probably a good idea to supervise them constantly, even if your mirrors are shatterproof.

  22. Ron Booker

    I like that you said that caregivers need to be available for each infant and ready to meet each infant’s needs. My sister told me that she wanted to put her kids on childcare so they can start playing with other kids. I’m going to let her know, of looking online for a good caregiver.

  23. Skylar Williams

    Thank you for explaining that an infant caregiver needs to spend most of their time on the floor with the infant. I have to go back to work soon because my maternity leave ends, meaning I’ll need to send my child to a daycare center. I’ll be sure to look for a daycare center that is very interactive with the children.

  24. Jay Jorgenson

    My wife has to work as well as I do and we don’t have someone to leave our child with. I like how you mention searching in childcare if it has things for the child to explore. Thank you for the information. I’ll search for childcare close to my home so they can take care of our little boy while we are at work.

  25. Ellie Davis

    I liked that you mentioned when you are looking for a childcare facility, you need to make sure that they have safety features that provide your kid with the best environment. My brother is looking for a childcare facility for his kids, and we are looking for advice. I will let him know about your recommendations to help him find the best childcare for his kids.

  26. Dylan Peterson

    I like what you said about looking for a childcare service that has items that infants can grab. My wife and I recently had our first child, and she wants to get back to work. We’ll be sure to look further into our options for services that have these things that you listed in the future.

  27. Tammie Houston

    It has been 6 months since I last reported to work and I already have my work schedule. Thanks for mentioning in your article that a good caregiver should constantly engage with the child’s progress both physically and verbally. I’m looking for a childcare specialist that can monitor and take good care of my 1-year-old baby and my 5-year-old son while I am at work during the daytime.

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