Choosing the Right Childcare

Date: 02 Mar 2015

What are the considerations when looking for the childcare that best suits my needs?

You will have many things to take into account as you make your childcare choices, but whatever choice you make, consider the following features as starting points:
• An arrangement with which both you and your child feel comfortable
• Carers who are loving and responsive towards your child
• Somewhere safe and clean for your child to play
• Experience or qualifications of the carers
• Provision of healthy and varied meals and snacks
• A variety of different activities and games, appropriate to your child’s developmental stage
• A back-up plan should your usual care arrangements break down

Day Nurseries

Day Nurseries are daycare centres where babies and children go with others to play and learn in an age-based environment. There will be a curriculum that is followed and activities based on children’s needs and interests. Nurseries typically open from 8am - 6pm and take children from three months to five years.

Main Advantages
• You will be informed about what your child does each day
• Staff will work in partnership with you to meet your childs needs
• Activities will be based on your child’s needs and interests
• Your child will be in the company of other children, learning to socialise and make friends
• Staff will be trained, qualified and security-checked
• Although your child will have a Key Person, your care arrangements do not depend on one person who may be sick or on holiday
• Inspected by Ofsted in England ( Other inspection frameworks apply for Scotland ( and Wales (
• Government childcare funding can be used for three and four year olds
• Your employer may offer salary sacrifice vouchers or sponsor a nursery on site

Main Considerations
• May feel too ‘institutional’ for babies or toddlers
• Your child can’t attend nursery if they are ill
• Inflexibility outside opening hours
• Often costly for multiple children


Nannies look after your children in your own home, offering individual care. You can sometimes share a nanny with another family and reduce costs. Nannies would be expected to deal with all of the children’s needs, such as cooking, cleaning their rooms, clothes and toys. They may live in your home.
Nannies may hold a childcare qualification (but it is not a legal requirement), or have previous experience of being a nanny. They look after babies and children of all ages.

Main Advantages
• Plenty of individual attention
• In your own home - flexible hours, especially useful if you work long or irregular hours
• Will fit in with your family lifestyle or additional forms of childcare, such as nursery or school
• Can look after your child when they are sick or unwell
• Cost-effective if you have more than one child
• If the nanny is registered with Ofsted in England, introduced via an agency in Scotland or registered under the Childcare Approval Scheme in Wales, you will be able to use salary sacrifice or employer supported childcare vouchers

Main Considerations
• Often costly for one baby/child
• Child’s day may not be structured
• Lack of inspection framework
• As you are relying on one caregiver, you would need to arrange back-up care for when they are sick or on annual leave
• You will be the nanny’s employer and therefore have all the additional responsibilities of paying employer and employee National Insurance contributions as well as income tax. A nanny agency can assist you through this process.