A nursery is perfect if your baby is social and easy-going, and you both thrive on routine.
They’re great for mums who have set working hours and need childcare they can always rely on, but also work well if you want a couple of free mornings a week to get chores done, or think your child would enjoy the stimulation of being with others his age.
Nurseries cater for babies, toddlers and primarily children under school age, and tend to be open on all working days, mostly 8am-6pm. Around a quarter of working parents with children aged under three choose this option.
Most of the carers working in a nursery will have an appropriate childcare qualification, they will follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) development programme, and there is external control and supervision. It can be hugely reassuring to know your little one is being looked after by professionals, and that one member of staff must have a first-aid qualification.
Staff-to-child ratios are strictly controlled, so there is one member of staff for every three children aged 0-2 years, and one for every four children aged 2-3 years, and children will be grouped together according to age.
The nursery will be set up in a business-like manner, so it’s important you ensure the contractual terms and conditions suit your requirements, as there is less likely to be flexibility with this option. For instance, if you collect your child later than the agreed terms, there may be late charges to pay.
Your child will benefit from a variety of games, experiences, adult supervision and interaction with other children of his age. And most nurseries take great pride in providing a balanced, nutritious selection of food – it’s not unusual for mums to experience food envy when seeing the menu on offer!
Inevitably there will be times when your little one is poorly, and at nursery, where he is in close proximity with other young children, this may occur more readily than in other childcare situations. And you’ll need a back-up plan for his care when he has something infectious.
How much will nursery cost?
According to the Childcare and Early Years Providers Survey of 2015, the average cost across the UK of a nursery place for a child under two for 25 hours per week is £105.
What to look for in a nursery
Are the children calm and content, safe and happy?
Are they interacting and socialising well?
Are there plenty of toys and equipment appropriate for their age?
Is there a quiet area where your child can sleep or get away from it all?
Is there a clear routine?
How will the nursery feed back to you about your child’s day – what he’s eaten, whether he’s slept and what activities he’s participated in?
Are most of the staff long-term employees? This will help your child build relationships with carers.
Ask for references from existing parents who use the nursery and from parents who have previously used it.
Find a directory of local nurseries at the National Day Nurseries Association website, ndna.org.uk