First, as many of you know, Bright Horizons is currently sponsoring a free download of The Philly Baby Bump Guide, and in order to feel comfortable with that decision, I wanted to personally experience a Bright Horizons center myself.
Second, whenever the issue of child care comes up in the play groups, fitness classes, or online parent forums that I belong to, Bright Horizons always seems to come up as a center that parents are happy with. I was interested in seeing if the anecdotal stories that I heard/read matched up with what I saw.
While Bright Horizons has several locations in the Philadelphia area, I chose the 16th and Market location because it was closest to my house. The center is located on the ground floor of the 1601 corporate building. I was told ahead of time that I would have to leave my stroller upstairs near security so I came prepared. I parked my stroller at the side of the lobby, strapped my daughter in the Ergo, and took an escalator downstairs. No pictures were taken as I wanted to respect the privacy of the staff and children.
After I was buzzed in, I met the director Trudy Veon and immediately felt at ease. Trudy is approachable, patient, and just one of the warmest people you will ever meet. Most importantly, she was great about answering any and every question I had in detail (and I had a LOT questions). It felt like I was leaving my daughter with a close family member and that positive first impression lasted the entire visit.
After introductions and an overview of the center, I went on a tour of the center but dedicated most of my time and effort on the infant program as most of my Philly Baby Bump readers are new or expectant moms with children under one. The Bright Horizons Center City location has three infant rooms, which vary only in size, layout, and number of children. The room that your baby is placed in will vary depending on your baby’s schedule and whether he/she is in the part or full-time program.
While I was in the infant rooms, I got a chance to speak with the infant teachers and meet Tara, a new mom that had just stopped by the room to breastfeed her baby. The central location of this particular Bright Horizons allows a lot of new moms in the corporate building (and nearby buildings) to nurse/feed their children while also giving dads the opportunity to drop in and say hello.
I really appreciate the flexibility and ease of mind that dropping in to feed your baby allows, especially when new moms are still adjusting to being back at work. Frankly, I wish more parents had this option but the limited number of child care centers in or near corporate offices doesn’t allow for that opportunity.
I asked Tara why she ultimately chose Bright Horizons and she responded by saying,
“I went with Bright Horizons because Trudy has so much experience and really made me feel comfortable as a new mom. I felt like she had everything under control and has dealt with so many families and needs that she could handle anything. I also went to King of Prussia Bright Horizons for a month and it was great there! The head infant teacher, Elizabeth, was so good and I was getting pictures of my daughter daily.”
After I spoke with Tara, I visited the remaining infant rooms and peeked into the classrooms and play spaces for the older children, including the gated outdoor space. When the weather allows, infants go outside for fresh air and play in the Movement Matters area of the center. However, young infants that can’t comfortably sit in a stroller may not able to go outside until they are safely able to do so.
Overall, I was incredibly impressed with the staff and the spacious and clean environment. The teachers were enthusiastic and seemed genuinely excited to be there, the infants were happy, the place was full of laughter and chatting from all of the children but was surprisingly still soothing.
While I learned a lot of information and facts about Bright Horizons Center and their Infant Program, I found the following information to be the most helpful as a new mom:
Writing a review for something as personal as child care is incredibly difficult because words can not replace that gut feeling that you as a parent have when you feel good about a place. The only thing that will come close to putting your mind at ease is to take one or even multiple tours of a child care center that you are interested in.
The best advice I have heard is to take a tour when you are pregnant and still frankly have the time to really think through the questions that are important to you. Then, visit again during your maternity leave to confirm whether those initial feelings are still the same.
Given that, if Bright Horizons is one of the places you are considering, I strongly encourage you to pick up the phone, schedule a tour, meet the infant teachers, and speak candidly with Trudy about what you are looking for and need. Make sure to ask all the questions you need to feel comfortable and if it’s not for you, don’t hesitate to move on.
Bright Horizons is one of many excellent options in Philadelphia and while the convenient locations, caring staff, and knowledgeable infant teachers make it a great option, it is by no means the only option. Visit other centers, compare, and talk with friends/family and hopefully you will find a place that works best for you and your family!
Good luck in your process and feel free to email me at email@example.com if you have any specific questions about my visit.