Nursery vs child minder?


I am not due back at work until January 2011 but I am trying to get organised and look at child care for Niamh when I go back.

I have just made enquires at 3 nurserys and they are sending me information packs and I am going to go and view them on Friday but not sure if a nursery care is what I want and may also make enquires with child minders

So I am calling on all you lovely ladies for the pros and cons of nursery care vs child minder. Also what sort of questions should I be asking, what should I be looking for? Is there anything you wished you had asked before your little one went to either a nursery or child minder? Any help would be greatly appreciated

Failing that any sure ways of winning the lottery?

Catherine and Niamh (18weeks and 4 days - where is the time going to at all!)

[Modified by: Mrs Calopa on 14 June 2010 15:32:54 ]


  • hi there!

    we decided on a child minder, i was due to go back to work a couple of weeks ago, but my stupid employers wouldnt let me go back part time, so im now unemployed struggling to find a job! anyway, my son who is 8 months has been having regular visits to the childminder and is starting to settle in, so i dont want to take him out even though im not working. the reason we chose the childminder was. flexibility to take and collect lo and differnt times on different days, like that she will take him out and get fresh air regularly, she also takes the children to various baby/toddler groups, like that its the same person looking after him, like the cost (we pay ??3.30 per hour)

    its a very personal choice, but what put us off about nursery is...cost, lack of one on one (in my opinion), that you have to take lo and collect on their terms, not yours, the kids dont get to go to the park, or out walking etc.

    i hope i dont offend anyone, these are only MY opinions.

    ashy xx

  • It is a very personal choice, and I know lots of my friends whose babies are at nursery and they are very happy with their choice.

    But, for us we decided to go with the childminder. Initially I was totally sure my daughter would be at a nursery, I didn't like the idea of having to trust one individual I didn't know with the care of my child. However, I visited the 'good' rated nursery and came out crying at the idea of leaving my baby there. The babies were grizzling, not doing much, and the staff seemed a bit more interested in what the staff were up to than the babies. I know that it wasn't going to be like that all the time, but the fact that it was like that some of the time shocked me. I don't think it is like that for older children, but I must admit, I think it is hard in a nursery environment with very young babies (for the staff to amuse them/look after them).

    Why I LOVE the childminder is because I know that when my daughter is in a grumpy mood or feeling a touch under the weather, she can get the cuddles and comfort that she needs. And when she isn't, she can play with the other little boy there during the day and with the slightly older after school children in afternoon. She goes out to groups or play dates every morning, if it's sunny they will picnic in the park or have tea in the garden. So she gets stimulation (shamefully more than with me because I'm trying to get other stuff done often), and socialisation (it was really important to me that the child minder had other children because I know how much my daughter loves them).

    But my daughters name is down at the nursery because I am thinking of sending her there from when she is nearly three. I think she'd love having lots of children her own age around then.

    But really, I think that babies do learn to adapt either way, it is just a question of finding what YOU are happiest with.
  • Hi lovely,

    As you know, Toby is at nursery - he's thriving there. He LOVES it there so much. He has developed really well in so many ways (crawling, standing, walking, eating habits - some not always good tho LOL!!!)

    He's a really sociable baby - he doesn't cry or fuss at all when we drop him off (he never has ONCE) and as such, he's really good when we leave him with family to babysit. We never wanted him to grow up clinging to us which meant we couldn't enjoy a night out together without him getting upset.

    For us - we were put off by a childminder for these reasons... didn't want Toby carted around on numerous schools runs for the CMs other kids... if the CM gets sick or takes holiday we have to find alternative arrangements... lunch isn't provided (I found all the CMs I contacted and the ones my friends use don't provide meals). I was also a bit concerned about T getting too attached to ONE person - at nursery he is in contact with at least 4-5 regular day nursery staff everyday.

    The cost IS high but we are so so happy with our decision to put him in nursery we wouldn't have it any other way. Even if I won the lottery and could afford to stay at home, we would still put him in nursery 2/3 days per week.

    The only thing we hate about Toby's specific nursery is that they don't do messy play - boring!!!!!!! Plus it doesn't have a seperate sleep room. As one of the youngest, T could still do with 2 naps a day but he only gets 1 as he just won't go to sleep in the morning as the other kids distract him!

    Edited to address a couple of points made in the other posts... Toby goes outside twice a day (weather permitting of course!) and we are lucky in that his outside area at nursery recently got re-done (due to a falling tree destroying the old area!) and now its HUGE and there is tonnes of stuff for him to do. Also, Toby is NEVER without cuddles and comfort on the days when he is a bit grizzly. In fact, he gets so many cuddles I get jealous!!! LOL

    Good luck!


    [Modified by: MummyJoo on June 14, 2010 04:14 PM]

  • Hope you don't mind me crashing as Evie is a toddler now but I'll let you know our experience.

    When i first went back to work Evie was 6months and I looked at both nurseries and childminders and opted for a child minder. My personal reasons for doing so were one on one time, and Evie making a special bond with somebody, cost (cheaper than nursery), a homely setting which I felt DD would settle into much quicker than a busy nursery class, and also I felt that a childminder would listen to, and remember any special requests I made for Evie's care, and that all in all she's be watched/monitored a little more closely than at a nursery.

    When looking for a childminder I wasn't sure what to look for or ask, but I saw one lady, who had all the right answers, a lovely home, she was a very nice lady... but i just didn't get the "she's the one" feeling. The second lady I saw, i got that feeling within minutes of meeting her. I just knew she was the one. She reminded me of myself, had a similar approach and "way" with children and Evie warmed to her straight away. So I would suggest interveiwing a few and I'd say if you do you should find the perfect one for you and your child.

    When Evie was turning one I did toy with the idea of getting her into nursery one day a week, as I felt she could do with more interaction with children her age (child minder did have other kids but they were older) and I wanted Evie to experience a more structured setting. I just pondered this idea for another 5-6months when our childminder sadly let us know she wouldn't be working fridays anymore (which is the only day Evie went) and so the timing was perfect for us to change to nursery.

    We got brochures from 3/4 local nurseries and in all honesty there was very little difference between each one, so in the end we veiwed the one nearest to our home. They gave us a tour and I was happy and comfortable with the nursery, I was apprehensive but once Evie started going, it was very clear that she loved it, and the staff were brilliant. So long as she was coming home each week happy, smiling and full of chat about her day I wasn't concernced.

    Things to ask a nursery might be
    *do you need to take holidays throughout the year
    *what is the sickness procedure
    * staff/child ratio
    *what is the menu
    *do they provide nappies etc
    *are they open bnk hols

    To ask childminder
    *what happens in terms of pymnt if CM is sick
    *other children they care for
    *do they cook meals or would you need to provide
    *are they flexible if ever you were to be late in picking child up
    *what activities do they do, how often do they get out and about

    Good luck in choosing, sorry if I've waffled on too much
  • Ollie and MJ both go to nursery.

    They have a high staff:children ratio so we know they have attention whenever they want it. They get a hug as soon as they arrive and before they leave if they want one too.
    They go outside at least 3 times a day (as long as its not bucketing down, but even then they have a covered play area!), they fit around our routine
    they do music play, messy play, all sorts of things and even go on trips
    A biggie for me was the lack of TV time - it was the barest minimum (well they get enough of it at home with me ! :lol: ) which meant they were never just plonked in front of it as a babysitter and always interacted with because there were plenty of staff to do the cleaning up whilst at least one was keeping an eye on the kids playing with/in the different areas...

    they see a wide variety of people frequently so they get to know them and are less shy around others. (Ollie plays at being shy for about 5 mins then cant help himself lol)
    They get a good home cooked meal at lunchtime , toast at 9am, and two snacks, plus they will give them a sandwich if we're going to be late picking them up.
    we can drop them off anytime after 7.30am and pick them up anytime before 6.30pm...

    I didn't like the thought of a childminder because they are only allowed a few children, so they wouldn't get to meet such a varied group of people. They would go to baby groups, but these would be the groups the childminder preferred rather than possibly the best ones... (not that all childminders would do that...) We'd also end up paying for any trips they went on with a childminder (I suppose you could argue we pay anyway by paying the higher cost of nursery but it works out cheaper...)

    I didnt want to have to find alternative arrangements during the childminders holidays - nor did i want the childminder arranging for someone i hadnt vetted looking after my kids (not sure what they would do if you said you didn't like/want their stand in looking after your kids...?)... and there is the school runs they have to do, depending on how many children they have and which schools they go to - my old childminder had 6 children, all a similar age to me, but they went to 3 different schools so the school run could take anything up to an hour + depending on traffic...

    Both kids love nursery, and I'm getting to know the parents too so you could say it was social for me as well! I know all the staff, some have even become personal friends! (became friends with one at an ann summers party hosted by a mutual friend - couldn't not be friends after that :lol: )

    Ultimately you have to decide what is right for you, and when you find the right place - be it nursery or childminder - then you'll know, you'll just have that 'feeling'

  • Just wanted to throw in, that Having experienced nursery with Evie, I certainly would consider it next time round even from a young age. Evie's nursery is fantastic, they get tonnes of fresh air as they have a massive garden/play area and go out at least once a day to play, they do all sorts of messy play too. The staff are great and all give evie kisses/cuddles and i'm more than happy with this as I know she's not losing out on special attention!

  • It is a completely personal choice and you will probably form your opinion based on the c/ms and nurseries you visit.

    I though we would put Ben with a childminder but I never got 'that feeling' with any. I didn't like the way some seemed to do their housework etc while the child was there. Also (I am super paranoid!) I started focusing on the fact that they would be one to one with my baby and I didn't really know what would be happening (I don't think we saw the best people!)
    At nursey there are always a few people around so I got some comfort from that - again only based on the people I saw.

    I visited a few nurseries and hated them, then I found the one he is at and just loved it. Small ratios (one adult to two babies). Loads of activities - baby music, messy play, outdoor provision (spend lots of time outside on the swings etc), cooking!, baby art, petting zoo in once a month...

    They have a separate room with cots for the under ones to nap in. Lots of cuddles.

    Also they follow our routine so he has feeds, naps exactly as he would at home - the c/ms couldn't confirm this as it depended on school runs etc with older children.
    They have a cook who makes all food from scratch so if they are a bit under the weather she will make them someting 'easier' and if they are asleep at lunchtime she will make something later.

    He has a keyworker and she does all his feeds, nappy changes and puts him down for his nap - this was one thing in particular that I was looking for - not all nurseries provide this.

    Security wise they have cctv in the room so for example when he bumped his head they showed me what happened on the camera. I liked this aspect.

    They also have bbqs, family days for the parents around once a month so we have made some friends.

    It is expensive (??55 per day - We're in the south east) but we are lucky that he is only in one or two days at present.

    I have to say we may have made a completely different choice had we found a c/m we really liked and not visited this nursery. Visit loads of both so you can make the best decision for you and your LO.

    Good luckx

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