Parental decisions in animals are often context-dependent and shaped by fitness trade-offs between parents and offspring. For example, the selection of breeding habitats can considerably impact the fitness of both offspring and parents, and therefore, parents should carefully weigh the costs and benefits of available options for their current and future reproductive success. Here, we show that resource-use preferences are shaped by a trade-off between parental effort and offspring safety in a tadpole-transporting frog. In a large-scale in situ experiment, we investigated decision strategies across an entire population of poison frogs that distribute their tadpoles across multiple water bodies. Pool use followed a dynamic and sequential selection process, and transportation became more efficient over time. Our results point to a complex suite of environmental variables that are considered during offspring deposition, which necessitates a highly dynamic and flexible decision-making process in tadpole-transporting frogs.