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Drop-in Daycare Checklist

The childcare facilities at many health clubs, supermarkets, and malls make life easier for you  -- and they're fun for your kids. But unlike regular daycare centers, most aren't state-regulated, so there's no official way to look into their safety. It's up to you to check for:

An identification policy
ID should be required when parents both drop off and pick up their kids. Most centers will require your child to wear a wristband with his name and your name on it. Always leave a contact number at the desk in case he needs help.

Red flags
Check that the place is clean and childproof. And are the caregivers attentive?

A plan for potty breaks
Many centers don't allow caregivers to change diapers or assist kids in the bathroom. If yours doesn't, make sure your child goes (or has a clean diaper) before you leave him.

A space for sneak peeks
Centers should have windows that let you look in on your child. Some even have TVs throughout the building so parents can watch their kids at play while shopping or working out.