If you’re thinking about returning to the workplace, your main concern is likely to be childcare. Which should you choose? Nursery or nanny? And how do you choose which nursery or which nanny to care for your child?
The advantages of a nanny are that your child will be in familiar surroundings (most nannies come to your home to look after your child), your child won’t have to be transported to and fro, and they will enjoy the complete attention of the caregiver. Another advantage of having a nanny is that your child won’t be exposed to other childrens germs (many friends I know with children in nursery’s complain their child has a permanent cold!). However, if your nanny is ill, or has an emergency, you may have to stay home from work to look after your child, or try and get last minute cover. Nannies are more expensive than nurseries too, unless you choose an au pair (these aren’t professionally trained.)
However, you might like the idea of your child mixing with other children, and this is where the nursery, or a childminder comes into their own. It’s important for your child to mix with other children, as this is where they learn social etiquette, especially important if they don’t have siblings at home. It’s also important that your child is given the opportunities to make friends with other children their own age. From age 2 toddlers can show a preference for certain companions. The ratio for adults to children in nurseries (under 2 years old) is 1 adult to 3 children, so although your child won’t be neglected, they won’t have the one-on-one care a nanny provides.
What you should check for
Whether you choose a nanny or a nursery, it’s important to check that your chosen caregiver is up to the job. It’ll give you peace of mind going back to work if you know your child is in safe hands. If you decide to hire a nanny to care for your child, contact your local authority Family Information Service (FIS) for information on nannies, or contact a nanny recruitment agency. A good nanny agency will have performed checks on their nannies but ask the agency what checks they’ve had done and follow up your nanny’s references. Interview a few nannies to enable you to compare them, and have a wider choice to choose from. Think about what hours you want your nanny to work, and what duties you wish them to perform, and any special requirements like being able to drive, before the interview.
When choosing a nursery, visit a few different ones so you can compare them. Getting personal recommendations for nurseries is a fantastic way of finding a good one. Ask local parents which nursery they send their children to, and if they’re happy with it.
What to look out for
When you visit a nursery, look at whether the children are happy, and what activities they’re doing. See how clean the nursery is, and what facilities they have. See how the staff interact with the children. Do they talk to the children? Do the children seem relaxed and happy with the staff? When you look around the nursery, the staff should talk to you and your child. A sign of good nursery staff is if they try to get to know you and your child, and ask questions about their health and care, including feeding and behaviour. Have a look around to see how safe the nursery is for your child. Check that no one can enter the building without being authorised to do so, and that children can’t get out of the nursery. Every nursery should be childproofed, but check that there isn’t anything that your child could hurt themselves on.
Check what the nurseries policies are on emergencies and illness. Nurseries with strict illness policies are safer for your child as there will be less serious germs floating around from child to child. Find out what the nurseries policy on naps and feeding is, to see if it is the right nursery for your child. All nurseries should have the following activities:
- Painting, drawing and sticking
- Imaginative play in the sand pit/water table
- Story time and reading
- Play dough and building blocks
- Singing and dancing
Alice from http://www.babynames.co.uk wants to help people ensure they choose the right childcare for their baby and ensure their safety and learning.