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Nursery or childminder? Pros and cons, please.(25 Posts)
DD will be eleven months old when I have to go back to work full time. She is my first, so I'm a bit clueless. Do I want her in nursery, with a childminder or maybe (as I was thinking) a combination of both? Advice please!
I went for a childminder as I wanted DS to be cared for by 1 main carer in a family home. It's worked brilliantly, DS had not been parted from me since he was born. He was 1 when he started at his childminder, been there 6 months now and adores her and her family . She is also flexible , if I need an extra day or early / late care it's accommodated no problem. Not sure how flexible nurseries are as I have no experience of them but that's something you really need to take into account . Also make sure you visit a few settings to get a good feel for them. My CM is not rated outstanding, her house is slightly errrm chaotic at times as age has a large family of her own however it is absolutely perfect for my DS and he is totally happy, safe and loved in her care. I knew when I visited her she was the "one" for us and its worked out really well.
Benefits of using a Childminder (bit biased I'm afraid)
I do firmly believe that children can also thrive in a nursery environment, my children have attended nursery in the mornings from 3 years old and it has been invaluable in preparing them for full time school however I do believe that younger children benefit from a family environment, there are many benefits a childminder can offer that other childcare settings can't, one of those benefits is that the child has one constant caregiver he or she is able to form a secure attachment to, the relationships we experience in childhood form the basis of all relationships in adulthood, having a secure and constant childcare option is ideal. There are also many studies which claim that one to one attention in familiar surroundings greatly benefit those under 3 and that home childcare is preferable. Please do not be worried that your child will not mix with other children, we all go on plenty of outings to local toddler groups and childrens centres. Choosing your childcare is a major decision and not one that should be rushed into, different homes will suit different children.
I went back when DD was 9mo and we went for a CM. Partly that was because she could offer the flexibility for our strange working hours, but also because we felt more comfortable with with DD being in more of a 'home' environment when she was that young. It's working out brilliantly, I couldn't be happier. (Not that I have anything against nurseries, I really want DD to start going when she is a bit older as I think socialising in large groups is a very important thing to learn).
Some benefits for us are flexibility over days, running a bit late etc, and also our CM is slightly more relaxed about illnesses than a nursery is - as in, she is fine to have manage children with a slight temperature due to something non-contagious like an ear infection, as long as the children are happy, and isn't too fussed about snotty noses and runny eyes.
I think the biggest downside is that if your CM isn't around, you generally don't have any back-up childcare. And that can be a big downside on occasion.
But it really isn't a decision you can make on paper - you need to have a look around, your gut instinct will tell you what is right. The moment I walked in to our CMs house I knew she was the right person.
Strong bond with one carer with lots of cuddles. (more time than when I worked in a nursery)
Follow the same EYFS curriculum as a nursery.
Family set up.
Varied day with normal everyday outings (which you can get a lot out of)
Lovely personal relationship with another family.
Mix with different age groups (my big ones really look out for the younger ones and form great bonds which each other which spills over into school - giving them lots of confidence.)
Uninterrupted care when they start school - some nurseries can't take children once they begin school.
No high staff turnover.
Usually older more experienced carer - usually a mother themselves.
Socialise with other CM's and their mindees.
Flexibility - I provide 6.30am starts.
Illness of CM or her children causing setting to close.
Potential for poor practice not to be noticed as it should be in a nursery (although I witnessed a few things at the nursery I was concerned about - bottles being made up wrong, a practitioner saying weeing yourself was naughty amongst other things)
We use a nursery for pre school age children because:
Baby's sleep routines could still be followed (childminder may go to groups, have small runs which mean baby needs to be woken up)
Flexibility about pick up and drop off times, can turn up when we want at nursery as we know she will be there!
Not reliant on one carer ( our school age ds goes to a childminder after school and due to her illness and that of her kids has not been working on 3 days since sept. manageable with him, but would have meant 3 days I could not work if she had dd too)
Like the fact that more adults are around, so no problem if baby needs a 20 min Ockham before sleep or to be held while she sleeps.
Baby doesn't have to be taken out on all weather for school runs ( our childminder drops and collects from 3 different schools)
Good luck with your choice.
I think it totally depends on the individual environment.
I really wanted a CM for my son as I totally agree that a home-like environment is nicest for youngest children and he was 9 months when he started.
But I couldn't find one I liked. My issues included DS hating a buggy so daily school runs would be a nightmare for him. Also some of the CMs had no back up if they were ill and quite a lot of weeks off during the year that didn't fit with my job (I have certain events running that mean I have to attend and can't take that time as holiday). And none of the ones I met seemed quite "right" for my son, although I can't name any specific reasons.
So I saw nurseries too. Some seemed too impersonal but the one I chose in the end is very homely and warm. DS has been with the same few people (it is family run) since he started and he is now two. So he has not been passed around a huge number of staff at all.
The nursery were also incredibly supportive about him being a total bottle refuser and being ebf. They are very, very affectionate and he is often cuddled. They know all his funny phrases and so on. They bring him things he likes from home (he often gets mad obsessions with particular objects) if they think it will make him happy.
I honestly would pick a CM on paper every time. But when it came down to the individual places I saw, it just happened to be a nursery that seemed to get him better.
So my advice would be to see a few of each type of place to work out what would best suit your child. Personally I wouldn't mix CM and nursery, but that's because DS is the kind of child who needs consistency to settle with people. Your child might be different. Good luck.
I think if you can get a good childminder it can be great. One main career, family atmosphere, home environment. However I couldn't find a childminder who I liked enough to leave my child with, plus I was a bit uneasy about the cons of childminders. I didn't like the idea of paying a lot of money for my child to be dragged around for three hours a day on various nursery/school runs, have four children to one adult in the day plus afterschoolies, and the way I saw cm's interacting with their charges at groups.
Nursery had lovely play areas and gardens, lots of careers in case DS didn't gel with one of them, lots of activities, and was a lot less personal, I.e. I felt I could tell them to do something rather than ask.
Ideally I would prefer a great cm with fewer charges, good garden, slightly attachment parenty and good cover for holidays but I couldn't find one, only overworked unenthusiastic cm's whose hearts weren't in it, so I went with a lovely nursery.
We've done both. I'd always go for a professional, caring, childminder if possible.
If you can't then a nursery you like is absolutely fine. DD is in a nursery at the moment.
Disclaimer: I am overseas and CMs don't really have lower ratios or the same level of inspection. I personally am not a fan of the system so I didn't consider one but I would in the UK.
I preferred a home environment for DS before he could walk and talk so we had a nanny - plus we had 6am starts! A flexible CM would have been perfect. When we moved and he was 18months I looked at different options including 2 nurseries and a few CMs (but I found them overworked and not very flexible in terms of adapting their care to our parenting). 1 nursery I liked and he hated, the second nursery I thought was a bit small and too chaotic but he stayed for the whole if his trial afternoon because he didn't want to leave.
We now have nursery and an au pair for drop off/pick up because working hours are still longer than opening hours.
So I do agree it's about the right place, especially if you don't have constraints on hours, but even if you do and you find a wonderful nursery you may be able to find a way around it.
We have had lots of problems with several childminders terminating contracts at short notice (various reasons) and as a result I would strongly recommend using a nursery if reliability and consistency is important to you.
Also routines can be better catered for in a nursery setting in my experience as they're not doing school runs (up to 4 a day), or going to other clubs etc.
If you're a bit early to pick up or late to drop off you won't be worrying about impacting on any of those things either.
Obviously you need to look around as many settings as you can and go with what feels right for you.
I've tended to use a nursery as I wouldn't be happy with someone taking 4 weeks holiday which i then had to cover, plus I didn't want a small baby dragged out on school runs unneccessarily or doing age inappropiate activities.
Cons are a larger setting, less homely and you may not always know the staff looking after your LO, most will have to use bak staff if another member of staff is off ill or on holiday
I'm a CM and have no experience of nurseries. I can only give you upside of a CM. The homely environment and a second family, most CM's have their own children at home. I've looked after most my mindees from a approx 1year old right up to school age. They become part of my family. There may be opportunity for CM's to continue the care of a minded child when they move up to school and do wrap around care. Some CM's look after the same child right up to their teens!
I do a school run but don't see that I'm dragging a child out with me. The fresh air does them good and being in the school environment from a young age can only be a good opportunity. When we get home the older ones loves the babies and toddlers and the little ones love all the attention and the opportunity to be around older kids. There are CM's that don't look after schoolies and this may suit a parent better.
Some children don't sleep well in nursery. I offer or try my best to settle a child in a similar sleeping environment they are used to at home- black out blinds open or shut, light on or off, music to soothe, peace and quiet.
CM's may offer early starts and late finishes. We visit groups, library ,music classes, soft play, parks and farms, have days out. When the weather is lovely the world is our oyster!
The downside can be the cover of holidays and sickness. I've only ever taken time off sick if I can't get out of bed. Most CM's I know rarely take time off. I'm a mother of young DC, I generally carry on regardless of how poorly I feel!
It really is down to personal choice, and 'feel' when you go to meet them.
I really like MaryPoppins list of 'pros' and have to say my experience, over a few CMs over many years with my different dc, I've never had a problem with CMs being ill - they tend to just carry on, as you would as a Mum. Most have a network of other CMs who will help each other out if they can if they really can't have the child that day.
I'm sure there must be CMs out there who aren't great, but my own personal experience is I was absolutely right about choosing CMs over Nursery. I now visit Nurseries as part of my job, and I think there's something very sad about small babies staying put in the one room for 10 hrs a day - I'm glad mine went out and about, with their CMs every day.
Pros of CM:
One main carer, to whom your child can bond and you can communicate with about your child's needs - no danger of messages not getting passed on/info being missed.
Home environment, easier for child to rest if under the weather or tired.
Mixed ages, more like normal sibling relationships, if you have another child they can be together.
Flexibility over times/days/ad-hoc.
Our CM is fab, and our DCs view her as one of their "inner circle". She is very professional and highly trained, but also offers the homeliness/comfort and familiarity of a relative.
DD1 is just starting nursery now she's 3, and she enjoys the extra stimulation, but I'm glad she had her baby days with a CM.
If you can get a good, reliable, childminder, they're worth their weight in gold. However, the good ones tend to be fully booked & may not have availability when you need it. Covering their holidays (6 weeks a year for my last 2 CM) can be difficult too & usually means I use all my holidays covering theirs!! Usually at times I wouldn't want to be off.
I've found the quality varies considerably between . For example, my current CM does no baking, crafts, or painting - at best, it's babysitting. My 1st CM was fabulous - almost like having a private nanny. At least if your child is in nursery, there will be more than 1 person's input.
If my DS hadn't had some health issues, I'd have used a nursery. Would have been much handier when he reached 3 & could have got 15 hours free care per week too!!
I have used both. Ds1 went to a cm from 6 months but she retired when he was nearly 2 and he then did 2 days cm and 3 days nursery. He definitely enjoyed the cm more but she was harder to get to and took 3 weeks in a row in the summer. Ds2 went straight to nursery at 11 months and is very content there despite a change of room every 6-9 months.
The one thing I miss most about not having a cm is the personal relationship. Both the cms became friends and as they had kids of their own I could ask them for tips on dealing with behaviour etc. They also knew me as an individual not just babytour's mum. The relationship with the nursery staff is much more professional
Lotsofcheese, plenty of childminders do offer the fifteen hours "free" childcare. They do have to be approved by the local authority, and meet whatever criteria they may set (qualifications etc), but it's certainly not the case that you need to use a nursery to get this. It is surprising how many parents think they have to go to a nursery to get this benefit.
I use a bit of both for ds(2.5). I love the childminder because it's almost like he's going around to another mum's to play for a bit.
I like the nursery because it's more of a school-like environment, they do more messy play/play outside more
For me, at 11 months, I think I'd pick the childminder - it's more individual. When I visited the baby room at the nursery, although all the staff were brilliant - friendly and loving, all the kids were happy, it was just a bit more factory-line (one big bowl of baby food being mixed up when I arrived for example). I do lean towards a bit more free-form parenting though, I'm not much for strict rules and routines!
minderjinx that's certainly not the case in Scotland, where I live. It's a shame, as I think more parents would use CM's if it was.
Ah I see. Sorry to hear that.
My 4 yr DD has been going to a nursery since she was 9 months old and loves it. She fits in well with the constant buzz and has a range of friends of exactly her age (few months difference). We have built adult relationships around those as well with mums meeting up for drinks and arranging shared childcare etc so I'm so glad she has been in a nursery environment.
However my 2 yr DS hated it. He started at 1 year and we gave him 3 months to try and settle in. Despite the staff trying a range of different strategies he just got more and more anxious and unhappy so we moved him to an excellent childminder. Despite the two drop offs and pick ups we truely believe we have the best solutions for our family.
Good luck with your decision and base it on your individual child and family.
We used three different london nurseries for DD1 (3 days per week) from age 1 (first closed down at short notice, the second move was due to our moving area) wasn't happy with any of them, mainly because of high staff turnover / poor managers, and my trust broke down after several incidents where was sure they were lying, eg Dd had clearly been hit/scratched across the face (could see handprint and five bleeding/red scratch marks) and they argued she had scraped herself on a slide; at pick up once at an odd time (unexpected) there were lots of DC crying, staff disengaged, awful.
I was always worried about her. When we chose nursery over CM I thought it'd be easier to relax with her at nursery because of supervision, being in one place etc. but it didn't work out that way for us.
dD1 had 20 days off sick in her first year at nursery, got everything going.
Dd2 is with a fab childminder, who also has dd1 after school. We have found the main benefits to be more homely environment, bond with that person, we trust her.
I would say think about what kind of care are you looking for.
With a CM your child would have 1 main carer whereas in a nursery you have more than that. The child would be in the baby room until S/he got to the age of 3. Do you want your child to mix with older children from a early age or would you prefer s/he to stay with the babies? Are you happy with your child going on the school run? (looking back on what others are saying, and it maybe helps your child to sleep at this time or just to have some fresh air and see the community). I work with my DH so he does the school run and most of the time he takes the older ones with him but there are occasions where the baby has to go out as I need to do a school run. Our situation isn't common though. CM's can be flexible. Nurseries may need you to do longer hours even if you don't need to use them so the space is filled but you may find some do the same thing. I don't know about Nursery charges but I do know that most CM's charge for "extras" like half fees for holidays and/or sickness. You may need to pay a retainer before the child starts to keep the place open.
Look at both options before you rush into anything. Visit lots of places. You will find somewhere that you know is right for you. You might find that starting with a cm and then changing to a nursery when older might be the way to go. Only you will know.
All the best with your choice. Hope we have helped.
My little one is 2yrs 3mths and we use both and have done since we started childcare.
at 9mths he started with a childminder 3 days a week and then he started nursery 1 day a week at 13mths ( i used a day a week annual leave for almost 4mths!).
At 2yrs we had planned to change to 2 days of each however at 18/19mths we changed cm as our one was due her baby and new childminder only had space on 2 days.
we now do tues/fri with cm and wed/thurs with nursery ideally cm would be 2 consecutive days but didnt have space and it all works fine.
He enjoys both and actually prefers childminder I think as gets more excited going there this has been since he went into the bigger room at nursery a few months ago not that he hates it just think its alot more noisy and busy for him.
I like that he has 2 very different environments with current cm (old one they were home quite alot and baby or no baby we prob would have been changing) they are out at playgroups/cm groups, school run, other activities if she has him on his own sometimes on a fri when other mindee is off they do something totally different which she couldnt always do with 2-3 toddlers (went to an art festival thing once where he did loads arts/crafts and they had lunch out etc). Nursery is lots children and gets him used to that busier environment as school isnt that long away really and he is an aug born child so will be the youngest when he starts school. I chose a montesorri nursery as its needs led rather than age led and they had a baby room (0-1ish) and baby/toddler (1-2ish) and a toddler (2-3ish) and pre-school (3+) room and he started in baby/toddler room and moved later than some of his peers to next room and they felt he wasnt ready for the hustle and bustle of the bigger room and when he did move he actually managed it very well which he wouldnt have done if he moved earlier.
I think there are pros and cons to both - can you cover if childminder is off sick/when she is on holiday? what happens over xmas - many (not all) nurseries close for a week can you cover it? (some childminders also have the week off but not all)
Our nursery costs us £16 more a day than childminder however nursery is 7.30-6 and cm is 7.30-4.30 (although pay til 5 in case running late never have been but its a daily charge for 8-6 so as I needed earlier this is what we agreed and works for us).
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