Day care can be a really great thing — your child gets to hang out with tons of other kids, they learn new skills, their immune systems grow exponentially, and the right one can ease a lot of worry. But no matter how great it is, your kid may still cry their eyes out every time they go. This is pretty normal, but when is crying at day care a red flag? What should you be looking for?
Choosing the right day care is really stressful. You have to balance need, distance, budget, and really, the vibe you get from them, and it seems like an impossible task. For the most part, day cares really work hard to provide your child with the best, safest, and most loving environment possible. But everyone's heard the day care horror stories. It doesn't matter that those are a tiny minority — it's terrifying.
In order to find out what you should be worried about when it comes to day care crying, Romper spoke with Gina Feldser, elementary school teacher and former day care provider in New York City, to figure out how to determine when crying at day care is a red flag.
She says that for the most part, crying at drop-off is just separation anxiety and doesn't mean anything beyond the fact that kids have a hard time with object permanence and don't always believe you're coming back.
But Feldser insists that it's another thing entirely if they're crying at pickup. "It's one thing if you're coming to get them at nap time or when they're hungry, but they really should be excited and happy to see you. Crying at pickup, especially if it happens a lot, is a red flag."
She also tells Romper that a "big red flag" is when your day care won't allow you to drop in and check on your child. "You should be able to drop in, unannounced, at any time. If they don't allow you in, that's a huge red flag. If your gut tells you to visit, do it. Listen to your gut."
And according to Feldser, it goes without saying, but if your child comes home with marks on their body that you weren't immediately given an incident report for and a call about, that's a huge red flag. Even a small bump warrants a report. If those reports happen often, that's another red flag.
To answer the question about crying at day care being a red flag, Feldser recommends you look at the day care itself. "Notice the staff. Is there a heavy turnover? Do they have employees who call off regularly? Do they seem understaffed? All of these are reasons to be concerned. Do they seem to have too many kids for the space and number of teachers? Are there enough cleaning stations?" It's easy to overlook things like sinks and amount of toys, but those are some crucial areas to consider.
Most importantly, according to Feldser, is to try to talk to your kids. If your kid is verbal, try to get them to use their words to tell you what is upsetting them so. More than likely, you'll find that your child is just bothered that you or your partner aren't the ones caring for them, but sometimes, there can be a deeper worry present. Trust your instincts and ask questions.