Red Flags to Look for When Choosing a Daycare Center

You don’t need to be an expert to know that raising a child is hard. It only gets harder when your maternity leave ends, and you need to go back to work.

When this happens, you need to find a reliable daycare center to take care of your child during the day. But how do you know if they’re trustworthy?

You need a way to be sure that your child is happy, healthy, and safe in the hands of any daycare center you put them in. You can read more about the daycares in your area but is that enough?

This guide will walk you through some red flags to look for when looking at daycare centers.

Small or Crowded Spaces

This will be one of the more obvious red flags when you walk in the door. For starters, an overcrowded room can be a fire hazard.

Aside from that, if the rooms are packed full of kids, then this daycare center is most likely breaking licensing laws in your state. Each state has a set ratio of children to staff that daycare centers shouldn’t go over. You should check your state’s laws on this before touring daycares.

Ideally, you should find a daycare center with a lower ratio than ten to one. If there are too many children in the classroom, then it’s very easy for your child to be lost in the crowd. A daycare should be able to help your child grow and develop.

Additionally, crowded rooms might mean that the daycare has a hard time keeping their staff. If a daycare has a high employee turnover rate, then that’s not a good sign either.

Activities That Aren’t Age-Appropriate

Daycare shouldn’t just be a full day of free play. They should have set schedules that they stick to.

Young children learn best through movement and exploration. Crafts should allow children to explore and be creative. Educational activities should be hands-on and fun.

Ideally, these activities will be designed as games the children enjoy. If the activities are simply large group lectures like a high school classroom, then this isn’t the daycare for you.

Pay attention to the children while on a daycare tour. If they seem bored, then they’re not getting enough enrichment here. This is usually because the activities presented to them are not age-appropriate.

If the children seem happy and focused on the activities given to them, that’s a good sign. It means that the kids are getting the proper enrichment and educational development that they need at their age.

Cleanliness and Safety

This is one that you should be looking for constantly, even after you’ve chosen a daycare center. You want to be sure that your child is safe at this daycare and that the staff can be trusted with their needs. The daycare should be both clean and secure.

Very young children will often still be in diapers. Usually, you will be asked to bring a day’s supply with you when you drop your child off for the day. If this runs out, they should have their own supply that they can use until you come to pick your child up.

So when you pick your child up at the end of the day, they should have gotten a diaper change a few times throughout the day. If the daycare has let your child sit in their own mess all day, this is a huge red flag.

In addition, there should be a set security procedure for letting people into the building. This way, everyone who is inside the building is on record at all times. Cabinets and drawers should be child-proofed, and cleaning supplies kept out of reach of young children.

No License

When you’re touring daycares, make sure to ask for their license number. Look at this number upon your state’s licensing website to check to see if the license is valid.

It can be a massive red flag if your daycare center’s license is invalid. An even bigger one is if they have no license at all.

When you check the license number, you should also check for any violations by the daycare center. A few violations don’t necessarily mean it’s a bad facility. Violations become red flags if they get the same violations frequently.

If that’s the case, then it might be an unsafe environment for your child. However, if there are only a few different violations over the course of years, then the daycare should be just fine.

This indicates that the daycare is quick to fix issues when they arise. Whether they need to change their practices, get more help, or let someone go, a daycare with few or no violations does what it needs to keep the children safe and happy.

No Communication

Pay attention to the staff on your daycare tour too. Do they seem friendly towards your child? Are they giving equal attention to each of the children in their care?

More importantly, are they willing to answer your questions? You should be asking plenty of questions about scheduling and educational activities your child will participate in. If staff members are evading your questions, this is a problem.

You should be able to speak directly to the daycare’s director without much difficulty. They should have an email for parents to contact them with. You should also get timely responses to your questions.

There are two reasons why staff would either avoid your questions or be slow to answer them. The first is that they are hiding something. The second is that they are simply too busy, which means you and your child won’t be getting the help you both need.


You want to be sure that your child will be happy and safe at their daycare center. Checking for these red flags is a good start to making sure you’re leaving your child in good hands.