- Personal Style: How would you describe your baby? Is she adaptable/flexible, cautious or intense? If your baby is adaptable, she will probably do well in a large group setting with lots of social interaction. If your baby is more cautious, look for a smaller group setting that’s less stimulating. And if your baby is very intense in her emotions, whether the setting is large or small, make sure she has a primary caregiver that will get to know and understand her specific needs (of course, this is best for all babies!
- Sleep needs: Does the setting allow individual schedules, separate sleep areas, and a quiet sleep environment? Since in reality this is not always possible in large centers, it’s important to find out if the provider will work with you to facilitate ease of transition in your baby’s sleep patterns. Find out ahead of time what the center sleep schedule is and you can gradually transition your baby closer to their schedule.
- Social vs. slow to warm up babies: If your baby is very social she’ll do great in a group setting that allows her many opportunities to play with others. On the other hand, if your baby likes to take it slower and tends to be shy around strangers, find a setting that allows your child to gradually transition from alone play to playing with one other child or a small group as she warms up. Responsive caregivers will be sensitive to your baby’s temperament and support her in slowly warming up to her new environment.
- Tolerance to change: If your baby is sensitive to changes and challenges, a setting with children the same age as her will be more comfortable. A baby that adapts more easily to change will do well in either a mixed-age or same-age setting.