Mother and Baby

Childcare Options: The Big Questions You Should Ask

Section: Childcare

You’re about to leave your baby in the hands of a carer, eek! There are some BIG questions you need answering first.

You know you have to return to work and leave your baby in someone else’s arms. That doesn’t make it easy. But you can make the transition easier by having the peach of mind you’ve nabbed the best care for your baby.

 ‘Your instincts will often tell you whether an individual or nursery is right for your child,’ says Lindsey Doe, director of nanny agency Tinies. ‘But the right questions can help you make an informed choice.’ Discover your inner childcare interrogator superpowers…

1. What qualifications do you have?

You’re fretting about whether anyone else will make sure your baby naps properly, so chances are qualifications in childcare will reassure.

‘It proves that a childminder or nursery worker has a good understanding of your baby’s needs and how she’ll develop,’ says Kate Groucutt, deputy chief executive of national childcare charity The Daycare Trust. ‘Ideally, staff should have at least a level three in a recognised childcare qualification such as CACHE, NVQ or NNEB.’

A childminder or nanny is less likely to have qualifications, but it’s a good idea to check she holds a first-aid certificate and good references. 

2. Will my baby be safe?

Do a big of digging and find the nursery or childminder’s Ofsted report online. ‘This will highlight any problems with safety and welfare,’ says Kate.

You can also glean a lot from seeing childcare in action. ‘Look out for children being left with runny noses, crying without being comforted, or drifting about unsupervised – you want to feel that a carer’s on the ball,’ says Kate.

3. What will the daily routine be?

If you employ a nanny or childminder, your baby’s existing routine should stay pretty much the same. At a nursery, she may be encouraged to fit in with the other children, taking one big nap after lunch, for example, but staff should be flexible while your baby adapts to nursery life.

4. How will I be kept informed?

Nurseries and childminders should keep a developmental record of your baby. ‘This may be sent home every so often so you can read it. Feel free to add details of your own. ‘Your baby will also have a key worker at nursery, who you should go to with any concerns,’ says Kate.

With a nanny or childminder, it’s helpful to have a notebook so she can write down what your child’s done each day, including what she’s eaten and when she’s napped.

5. What about discipline?

Boundaries are essential to keep your baby safe and happy. ‘Some nurseries are stricter than others, but the exact approach should be set out in its policy documents, which you can ask to see,’ says Lindsey. ‘Don’t be afraid to bring up how they deal with naughty children, too.’

When you visit a childminder or nursery, keep an eye out for behavioural incidents to see how they’re handled. Ideally, the carer should deal with situations on the spot, then move on.

  • Author: Lucy Dimbylow

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