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Consistency Key For Nursery Care For Under-Threes

Nurseries need to have more ‘continuity of care’ with babies staying with the same nursery carers until they’re three

If your little one is in nursery, you’ll probably recognise the system that many nurseries follow, where babies of specific ages stay in different rooms each with their own carer or group of carers. Once your baby reaches a particular age or milestone – such as crawling – he’s moved onto the next room and a new nursery worker.

But the children’s charity, What About The Children? (WATCh?) has claimed that moving children to a new room on a regular basis is fine for over-threes, but can be traumatic for younger children.

This is because a change of room means a change of your baby’s key nursery worker and the loss of what is often a very close relationship.


Speaking at the 5th Baby Room Conference in London yesterday, WATCh? proposed that children under the age of three have the same main carer at nursery, as they would if they were at home.

According to the charity, it’s important that the relationships your little one has with his carers during his early years remain consistent as it can affect stress levels and wellbeing as an infant. They argue this is ‘because the brain is incomplete at birth’ and it is the early relationships that largely determine how it develops.

Sarah Heale, director of WATCh? said, ‘We want to see nurseries making more effort to minimise key person changes for under-threes. This means putting in place a structure, which puts children’s needs first instead of the one which is easiest to administer from a managerial point of view.’


They suggest that this could be done by having a nursery worker moving through the rooms so he or she can stay in contact with her key children, having the key worker remain in the room permanently with these children or by implementing what is known as “family groupings” where there are no rooms and babies and toddlers spend time altogether with their nursery minder.

But if your nursery does use the separate room system, you shouldn't worry too much says Katy Hayden, a nanny and childcare expert at

'While having a familiar key nursery worker is good for a child, no childcare - whether nursery, nanny or childminder - is set in stone, so it's very hard to say that your child is going to have exactly the same carer for the whole first three years of their life.

'What's more, children can be surprisingly adaptable to change and I don't think it's especially damaging in the long-term as even if your toddler's nursery worker is now in a different room, he or she will still be in the building and will no doubt see your child on a regular basis.'


What system does your baby’s nursery use to care for your little one and what do you think of it? Let us know in the comment box below.

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