NCMA CHILDCARE WEBCHAT Thurs 29th April 12-1pm

Thinking about returning to work? Our expert from NCMA can help find the best childcare options for you

Susanna Dawson from the National Childminders Association (NCMA) will be here on Thursday 29th April, from 12-1pm to answer any queries you have about how a childminder may be the right choice for your family.

Don't worry if you can't make the chat. You can post your question below now:


  • Welcome to today's webchat on childcare with NCMA. Susanna Dawson will be online shortly to answer any queries you have...
  • Hi! Susanna Dawson here. I ahve been a registered childminder for over 14 yrs, looking after more than 50 children in that time. I still childmind - part time. I look forward to answering your questions.
  • Hi Susanna
    I'm going back to work in three months so am starting to look into childcare for my 8 month year old. What are the benefits of using a childminder rather than putting her in a nursery?
    Many thanks
  • Hi Susanna
    I'm about to return to work and am just looking at options, what would you say are the pros and cons of each - child minder v nursery? I also have my mum one day a week (I would work 3 out of 5 days) but am worried my daughter would feel pulled from pillar to post, should I just stick with one option?
    thanks for your help.
  • Hi. I work from home so my hours are really flexible. Should I ask my childminder if she minds that the hours she looks after my daughter change from week to week, or do you think that would be difficult? She's a really good childminder, so I don't want to lose her, but sometimes I need her for only 5 hours a week, and sometimes more. Do you think she'll prefer someone who can offer more hours and therefore more money? Thanks, Ali
  • Hi Pinkbarbie and Dottydarling thanks for asking about the benefits of using a childminder. For me as a childminder I can provide the right care for your child - be more specific and taylor made. Because we look after such small numbers, a childminder will get to spend lots of quality time with your child, responding to their needs on very quickly. Most childminders are often happy to be very flexible from full time to half a day, term time only and anything in between.

    I suppose a minus could be only one person - what happens when that childminder ois off - hols, ill etc. I have back up and always discuss with parents what that is - other childminders who their child will have met. Also I plan my holidays well in advance. I would suggest that is something you discuss with your potential childminder. Hope that helps.
  • Forgot to also add for DottyDarling, in my experience children always cope with a combination of childcare - mum/dad, childmidner and grandparents. I have a number of children in my care who that is currently working well for so I wouldn't worry. It also adds some flexibility into your arrangement
  • Ali - flexible hours is often something that can work really well for childminders. I would talk to your childminder and explain what you need and hopefuully you can come to an agreement as to what will work best. You might have to agree to a miminum number of hours per week with the option to increase. Alot will depend on her circumstances and availability - ie how busy she is with other children and whether she has other parents wanting to use her.
  • Hi ya
    I am just about to go back to work- my daughter is 8 months and very clingy. I've found a good childminder and we are going to get her used to it with a few one-hour sessions, but I know it is going to be awful for the both of us as she gets so distressed when I am away from her and then I feel so guilty. I know in the long run this will help her get used to being away from me and being with other people, but in the short term it is going to be VERY hard. Do you have any tips to help all of us settle in to the new routine as I am very worried about it. Any help will be so appreciated! thanx

  • Hi Susanna,
    I am just starting to look into childcare options as I'm due back to work in a few months. Please could you advise me on what types of questions I should ask when I visit childminders and what I should look out for?
  • Hi Susanna
    I work full time and my 15 month old little boy goes to a great childminder 3 days a week and Nursery 2 days a week. My childminder has a 2 year old and i can see my little boy already picking up his habits, in particaular tantrums. My little boy has always been so laid back and never had a tantrum unitl now. Any advice on how to avoid him copying everything the older boy does?
  • Hi HONEYBEE. Many children go through a clingy phase, and for some it is worse than others. You are right in that is will get better and will be good for your daughter - and you - in the long run. A couple of suggestions that might work - allow yourself plenty of time at drop off, so you are not rushing as children do pick up on that and have time to recover before driving? off to work. I would suggest that you don't linger over the goodbye, it simply prolongs the inevitable. If you know that she settles soon after you leave - has the childminder said that? - perhaps you can listen in without being seen, or look in through the window, again unobserved so you know she has settled. Obviously if it takes longer, that's not an option - many children do settle quickly once mum is out of sight - but not always. Finally, some useful distraction techniques by the childminder, loking at a certain box of toys, walking through the house to the garden, feeding the fish - whatever works. I sometimes use a puppet! She will settle in time I a sure.
  • Summer Hi! Some good questions to ask are what your child will be doing with the childminder while in their care, who else will be there - ie other children, ages etc. Ask to see where your child will be spending their time, playing, eating and sleeping. I would aslo suggest you ask to see current certificates - Ofsted, PLI, First Aid etc as well as any references the childminder might have. I also show parents my policies. I would suggest you also need to ask about fees, hours, meals and emergency back up arrangements. You can find out more info/questions to ask on NCMA's website.
  • Hi Susanna, thanks for coming on site today.
    I have a problem with my child-minder that would be good to get some advice about.
    Overall she is good and my children are happy in her company, and our system works well. However recently I have found about a couple of things from my children that I'm not all that happy with. My child-minder also has her own child and it seems that certain things aren't happening because her own child has priority, like my daughter missed a pre school session because her own child had a dentist appointment. In this instance who should be put first the biological child or the paying parents child. As I said I don't want to upset the balance but I just want to make sure my child is getting the right care. Thank you

  • Mummy from ealing - thats an interesting dilema about your child copying the behaviour of the childminders child. Children learn alot from observing the behaviour of others - not just children. Some of it is good and some of it is not. Tantrums are not unusual in 2yr olds - and sometimes younger children too. I think it is unlikely that you can stop your child copying - it is what they do but you could talk to your childminder about how you respond to such tantrums - and then be able to be consistent in your approach. Often ignoring the behaviour is the best option. Tantrums are often born out of frustation and when the child doesn't get what he/she wants then they stop. Often it is developmental and until they can expresss themselves better - when speech and understanding develop - it is a phase they go through. Hopefully, they will both come out of the phase at the same time.
  • thanks so much for your help!
  • mooming_mum - this is difficult but for me, the childminded child ideaaly should take priority. Was it an emergency appointment - as that would be different to a check up that was prebooked? I would suggest a chat over coffee if possible. It is always better to talk early in any situation rather than let it go this time but.....The longer things are left unsorted the harder. Good communication is key to a goodparent/childmidner relationship and I would hope I have that with all my parents. As a parent you want whats best for your child so it is understandable that you ant to sort this out.
  • I think that is the end of our webchat time. If you have further queries about childminding as a childcare option you can visit NCMA's website. To find out about local childminders in your area you can contact your FIS (Families Information Service) - every local authority has one. And finally, I would always suggest you talk to other mums in your area and ask - personal recommendations are always good! All the best.

    Susanna Dawson
  • Our webchat has now ended. Thank you to our users and of course to Susanna Dawson.

    For more information about childminding take a look at our feature:

    Susanna has kindly said she will answer any other posts that come in today, so if you didn't get a chance to post you can still do so.
  • hi im currently doing nursing and as most know the shifts are not child friendly. i have been thinking about becoming a child minder myself as my youngest is 17 weeks.
    i have looked online abput becoming a child minder and understand the route to take is to contact my local council but i was wondering how i would go about advertising myself to get work once i have become registered?
    is there any other information you can share about becoming a childminder?
    i understand that about ??4 an hour is a reasonable rate to ask for per hour. is this about right?
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