Finding the right childcare for your child is a big and often stressful decision. The pressure on choosing can come from well-meaning family, friends and also from a lack of time due to waiting lists. However it is important to take your time to make this choice and research the options available so you are happy and confident your child will be in good quality care.
There are many types of childcare to choose from, each with their own benefits to your family. Popular choices include day nurseries, child-minders or utilising relatives to care for your child. Although a nanny or au pair may work better for your situation and a nanny share with a friend could prove of benefit. It is such an individual choice, there is no right or wrong solution.
Things to consider
- Take their age and developmental stage into consideration.
- Look at what care are they used to and consider what would suit them, do they like being with lots of other children or do they prefer one-to-one?
- Ask yourself if they are good with new people, would they form good attachments to new carers?
- Do they have any special requirements such as dietary, medical or disabilities?
- Your needs should also be considered:
- How many hours care will be needed and do these fall at unusual times?
- Will these be set days each week or do you need more flexibility?
- How will you handle holidays or sickness?
- Will you drop your child off or would you benefit from them being collected?
More general considerations include:
- Look at what is actually available in your area.
- What can you afford to pay each week?
- Would you prefer a live–in carer that becomes part of the family or a more formal setting?
Things to ask about.
Make a list of things you want to know and take it along when viewing a potential setting. Work out which are the most important considerations to you and focus on those first. It is worth asking about:
- Rules your child will be expected to follow and the resulting methods of discipline.
- What routines they follow such as play, meal and outdoor time, naps.
- Their ratio of carers to children, how many carers your child will have to interact with and what one-to-one time your child will receive.
- How you will receive feedback on your child.
- Will you provide food and nappies or will they?
When you visit, trust your instincts and take note of the size and layout of the setting, cleanliness of the area, and if the children there look happy and engaged. Are the carers interested in the activities and enjoying their work?
After you have Chosen
Once you have reached a decision, relax and be confident that you have made an informed choice. Prepare your child in advance, adapting your own routines if needed to get them used to what is coming. Get to know their new carer(s) and allow plenty of ‘settling-in’ time. Change can be hard for children and transitioning from one routine to a new setting will take time. Show how relaxed you are and say goodbye cheerily so your child can see you aren’t worried and pick up on your anxieties!
We’ve talked about some of the challenges facing working parents here.
We’ve summarised the benefits of each type of childcare in the following articles.
- The benefits of day nurseries
- Choosing a childminder
- Is a nanny or au pair right for your family?
- Staying at home with parents
How did you choose childcare that works for your family? Let us know in the comments below.