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How Do You Know When It's Time to Switch Day Cares? A Pediatrician Weighs In

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Choosing the right day care for your child is one of the biggest first decisions parents are faced with. It doesn't matter if your little one is 3 months or 3 years old, you've likely experienced some anxiety over whether the setting you're in is really best. But you didn't sign your name in blood there — you're always free to pull your kid out and put them somewhere else if you have serious concerns about the care provided. So how do you know when it's time to switch day cares?

According to pediatrician Dr. Jarret Patton, "There are a couple of reasons one might want to change a day care — one is related to safety and one is related to growth and development." As far as safety goes, Patton tells Romper, "Sometimes as a parent you may have a 'gut feeling' that something is just not right about the day care. Furthermore, your child may tell you something that isn't pleasing or may have a sudden change in behavior about going to day care. Perhaps your baby is getting frequent diaper rashes due to diaper changes not being timely. These are all signs to talk with the manager of the day care and discuss your concerns. If things don't seem to change, perhaps a switch in day care is warranted. Obviously, if there is an infraction of any state health or safety code, strong consideration to change day care should be given."

Disgruntled parents everywhere are likely muttering a hearty agreement to Patton's list, since concern for the physical safety of their child is always a top priority in picking a day care in the first place. If you want to hear a mom roar, give her cub inadequate or inattentive care.

But safety isn't the only grave consideration; you want to be sure your little one is thriving developmentally, too. Patton says, "Day care should also address the needs of developmental stimulation, not simply keep your child safe. If the day care does not provide developmental games like blocks and puzzles and relies too much on televisions, perhaps it is time for a change."

So how do you know what to look for? Patton explains, "You ideally want to find a day care that enriches the child's development with reading, language, and math skills that will keep them learning. Early childhood education is extremely important to children from birth to 3 years, not only for preschoolers and elementary school children. Programs modeled after the national Head Start program tend to do the best for early education."

The bottom line? Trust your gut. If your parental intuition is telling you that your kid's day care setting is not a safe or healthy environment for him, don't hesitate to take action. Keep in mind that researching and finding a new day care is a lot of work. While you shouldn't be flippant about the effects of change on small children, sometimes the best thing really is to call it quits and make a new arrangement. There are plenty more fish in the sea, and your kiddo deserves a safe place to swim.