Childcare: nanny or nursery?

Choosing which type childcare you opt for is something you might want to consider whilst still pregnant as there are several options to consider and some nurseries are very popular and have waiting lists.

As there are different types of childcare, it is important to explore what is available in your local area and what will suit you and your lifestyle best.

Sure Start Children's Centres

Sure Start Children Centres are from birth, working with parents, providing services including;
  • Early learning for children
  • Parenting advice
  • Full day care
  • Short term care
  • Many early learning activites
  • Open in general from 8 am to 6 pm
  • Health a family support.
  • Training and employment advice.

Costs vary in each area


  • Child minders look after children under 12 years of age in their own home. They can look after 6 children under the age of 8 years and no more than 3 children under the age of 5 and of these only one under 12 months..
  • Advantages childminder
    • They can offer more flexible times for drop off and pick up.
    • The baby discovers everyday life gradually
    • Will drop off and pick up from school
    • Your child will be one of a small group
    • Children can feel home from home
    • Continuity and familiarity to your child
    • You can choose what the type of feeding and games you wish her to play with your baby.
    • The success of this childcare method depends on the personality of the childminder, her availability, her creativity....
  • Disadvantages
    • There may be no cover when your childminder is off sick or on holiday
    • If your childminder has their own children, some parents worry they will spend more time with them.
    • Some parents don't like their children fitting into the childminders routine.

Check list for choosing a childminder

  • Is she appropriately qualified to child mind.
  • She must be Ofstead registered
  • Get references from other mums whose children attend
  • Make an appointment with her and go with your baby
  • Notice if a contact is established, if you feel she is listening...
  • See one or two other childminders and choose the one with whom you feel safe with.
  • Check her availability.
  • Look at the state of her home and the place where your children will sleep and eat.
  • Make sure and check on the number of children who are cared for.
  • Get information from your local council or Family Information Service (FIS).


Day nurseries can be run in your workplace, as local businesses or by voluntary groups.
  • Advantages
    • Structured environment for play and activities
    • Strict Ofstead monitoring
    • Your child will mix and socialise with other children of the same age
    • 50% of staff are trained in childcare
    • Reliable and stable - will remain open despite staff shortages
    • Structured rules for the parents and what to expect.
  • Disadvantages
    • Can be expensive
    • Not so flexible with opening times for drop off and pick up
    • Greater exposure to germs so more likely to catch colds and infections at a nursery
    • One to one care is less likely which is more important for babies

Check list when choosing childcare

  • It should have a friendly feel.
  • Be clean, safe, ventilated, have plenty of activities and have appropriate furniture.
  • There should be facilities for rest, all types of dietary requirements, and a variety of toys.
  • Staff - how do they interact with the children, what is the ration of staff to children and how are they trained.
  • What is the age range of children.
  • Ensure they are `Ofstead' registered

Pre school and playgroups

  • Part time play for under fives
  • They are usually run by voluntary organisations
  • Is suitable for mothers who do not work or work part-time or shifts...
  • Pay by the hour

Nursery Schools and Classes for 3 -5 year olds

Early Education is held at nursery schools, Sure Start Centres and Infant and primary schools. 3 - 4 year olds are entitled to 12.5 hours free education for 38 week of the year. Compulsory school starts the term following their 5th birthday

Au Pair & Nannies

They provide care in your own home and look after children of any age.
  • They offer flexible working hours
  • Childcare is carried out in your home environment
  • Children experience real life learning, cooking shopping, gardening and outings.
  • Care is personalised
  • Children with special needs often like and benefit from this type of childcare.
  • Mothers may employ a nanny for shared care with another family. This can help share the cost.

For more information

National Childminding Association

NAFIS - Information for families across the UK
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