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childminder versus nursery?

(55 Posts)
noodlesmummy Tue 29-Jan-13 17:33:30

does anyone have any tips on childminder as opposed to nursery. first baby and due to go back to work in a few months when she is 1. i dont work locally or have any family near.....

thebody Tue 29-Jan-13 17:55:55

I am biased as I was a cm..

Small amount of children so virtually one to one care.
Flexible and adaptable, can work around a parents normal requirements,
Home environment so less regimented.
Lots of 'out and about' at the park, library, soft play, etc.
Same key adult in child's early years creating a safe and strong environment.
Child is part if the minders 'family' and can benefit from mixing with older siblings, other mindees and enjoy school runs etc.
Child care vouchers can be used same as nursery.
No 'nursery routine of feeding and changing' this is done as needed.

Others will come along to extol virtues of a nursery but its really personal choice and finding the right one for you.

mindingalongtime Tue 29-Jan-13 18:50:32

The two children who have started with me this week have both been in a nursery, one for the last 6 weeks and one for 8 weeks. One was sent home 5 times in 3 weeks, for a runny nose and bottom - teething maybe? The other was still sobbing in her sleep 2 hours after pick up.

Nurseries have their place, for over 2's, not for babies, they need a smaller home environment to settle in and these two have, in a week.

SoldeInvierno Tue 29-Jan-13 19:08:01

how many weeks a year do you need childcare? I picked a nursery because I needed to be sure that I was covered 51 weeks a year. With my job at the time DS was small, there was no guarantee I would be able to take holidays at the same time as a CM, or time off if CM was ill, etc

tiffinbaker Tue 29-Jan-13 19:53:51

My DS was very happy in a Nursery from the age of 12 months - settled in fine and had no issues such as the first 2 replies suggested so they aren't all bad.

To some extent it depends on your child's personality. My DS was the kind of toddler who was into everything and wanted to explore new stuff all the time - in a home environment he quickly gets bored. Other friends had DCs of the same age who were

I've nothing against CMs but disadvantages that put me off were:
Arrangements when CM or CM's own kids were sick
Arrangements when CM wanted to go on holiday
Lots of CM kids seem to spend an unnecessarily long time strapped into buggy or carseat for the school run instead of doing something fun (not true for all) - you also hear about mindees being either dragged round the supermarket for the CMs weekly shop or (obviously worse) left in the car for it!
Not necessarily doing much mixing with kids their own age/size/development level, but instead restricted to activities which have appeal over a much broader age range.
Because they aren't in a group of kids their own size they are less likely to have naps when they need them - see other threads on MN about overtired children who haven't been made to have a nap because they were having too much fun with older mindees - whereas in nursery everyone goes down for a nice long sleep when its nap time and the ones who are too big for a nap are in a different part of the building.

Also for me personally as I am awkward socially myself I prefer dealing with an "organisation" populated by numerous (all lovely) people, and having formal documented procedures and a "chain of command" so that I could speak to someone more senior if I wanted to, rather than having to build a 1:1 relationship with a CM - I realise that this won't be an issue for many people.

Nursery isn't perfect, obviously - and it depends on the nursery you choose. Ours does charge less for short days but some charge the same day rate whether your DC is there 8am-6pm or 9:30am-3pm. Ours has lots and lots of outdoor space and outdoor activities but some only have a more limited garden space. Some nurseries have "room"/"group" changes every 6 or 9 months which is quite frequent for getting used to a new situation (and usually a new Key Worker (or whatever name your nursery gives to the staff member with particular responsibility for your DC))

tiffinbaker Tue 29-Jan-13 19:56:47

oops I seem to have got distrated and left the second para half way through a sentence. It should say "Other friends had DCs of the same age who were less outgoing and found nursery too overwhelming, but were much happier with a CM until they got to preeschool age"

AliceWChild Tue 29-Jan-13 20:00:07

I picked nursery as I didn't want just one person to be such a significant influence on my child. We'd have to see eye to eye about so many things for me to be happy. The nursery I picked has a very child minder like feel in the baby rooms. Essentially a large living room with some lovely cuddly gran/ mums to look after them. I would have been less keen on a more institutional place.

Glittertwins Tue 29-Jan-13 20:00:15

We opted for nursery for the 51 weeks/year cover and because we wanted the DTs to have more children around them rather than just them plus one other at a CM. They were 6 months old when I went back to work. We don't regret our choice of nursery at all.

Themobstersknife Tue 29-Jan-13 20:08:17

Do you have other people nearby who can recommend either / or? You really need to look at the specific options in your area, as opposed to go with some of the generalisations made above. It is an opinion that nursery is not for under 2s. Not a fact.
DD1 went to nursery for over two years and never got sent home for a runny nose and teething nappies were also tolerated. She never sobbed herself to sleep. DD2 has just started nursery - a different one as we have moved - and she settled within an hour. Yes there is a routine, but they adapt it as required. For instance DD2 has been asleep during a couple of meals or we have been late in and she has missed snack, so they have saved it for her. And of course nappies are changed if required. She will have the same key worker until she is 2 and the nursery is like a family.
There will be good and bad examples of both. Go and look at some options. Your gut feel will probably win the day. MN posters, in my opinion, seem to be pretty against nurseries in general, but plenty of people use them and are very happy with what they offer.

ReetPetit Tue 29-Jan-13 20:32:23

cm for babies/young toddlers.
nursery is fine from around 2 1/2 yrs but not suitable for little ones imo...

(have worked in nurseries and am now a cm)

calmlychaotic Tue 29-Jan-13 20:33:06

I would go and have a look at both if you are not sure, and see more than one nursery and childminder as they are all different. A shy or clingy child will often be happier with a childminder, that said an attention seeker will often prefer childminder too as they get the attention. I am biased being a cm myself and also in that my own, (quiet and clingy) ds had a terrible time at nursery. I think little babies are better off with childminders where they can have more one to one and if they need to be carried for a bit or have a hug they can. Not saying nursery staff dont its just they often have more children to deal with and its busier. I like that we can get them out everyday and they get to go to different places, i dont much like the idea they are stuck in the one room all day,but then some people prefer that. as i said im biased anyway! Childminders often have back ups in place to cover their holidays/sickness. in the last year i have not once closed for sickness and have taken 3 weeks holiday in total and provided alternative childminders.

mamadoc Tue 29-Jan-13 20:34:29

I am a parent who has used cm rather than nursery for my two dc.

Reasons for me are:
Wanted my LO to have one person to bond with and also easier for me to relate to one person. (Totally the opposite feeling to two posters above so it really is a personal choice thing)
Wanted homely, natural environment. For me school runs and a little bit of shopping (not regular) are fine to be part of that.
CM can carry on looking after dc after school so my baby and his big sister spend time together

In 5 years of using cm I can only recall a few days of their sickness. Hols she gives me well in advance and we go at the same time as far as poss. She has also done extra ad hoc days for me whenever she can which I don't think with nursery would be so easy.

I am not myself a very regimented, routine type of parent so as long as he gets a nap I'm not fussed if its shorter than at home or in a buggy. Dc2 has to fit around dc1 at home so he's used to it!

I see the mix of ages as a strength. Babies are usually a lot more interested in older children than other babies. I fondly recall the cm's 3 yr old twins helping my dd to walk by one holding each hand! Ds has quite a few different buddies at the cm because most people are part time so he sees different children on different days plus goes out to groups.

Basically I think it is a personal preference thing and You have to find the right fit for you. Standards vary in both types of setting so I would suggest looking round as many as possible and see where you feel comfortable.

We chose nursery for dd1 because it was only 2 days a week, and she was high maintenance - never slept in the day. She still didn't sleep at nursery, but we felt that at least there would be another adult to do a shift with her. If we had needed more days we might have been more likely to go with cm. Generally the cm will have older children, so you will have to accept that they will be on the school run, but lots of second and third borns have to do it anyway, and it might be nice for them to have some big 'brothers or sisters'. I really think you need to go and look for yourself and think about what is important for you working and your dd. (dd1 is lovely now by the way!)

Coconutty Tue 29-Jan-13 20:41:34

I preferred a nursery, lots of staff, gorgeous setting and facilities. I didn't want dc s to get attached to one person or spend hours doing schoolruns etc. Very personal choice I think.

Go with what feels best.

PMMummy Tue 29-Jan-13 20:42:14

I have used both. DD1 needed a nursery, sounds ridiculous but there were no other children in the family at the time, we didn't see any other children and she was very clingy and shy. I feared she would cling to a cm as a me replacement. She thrived at nursery and at pre school following that. DD2 attends a cm, but she is the complete opposite to her sister. Has no need to mix with a larger amount of children as already has confidence, doesn't cling to me or the cm and come pre school she too will just walk right in. Different children, different personalities and needs !

SizzleSazz Tue 29-Jan-13 20:49:39

We used a CM up to when DDs were 2.75 and for adhoc stuff after that (still do now at 6 and 4 lol). All the CM benefits stated above, but mainly home from home environment and flexibility (needed cover from 7am) plus happy to keep DD's if we were caught late. Plus she did a couple of weekends for us at VERY reasonable rates.

Re reliability, my CM was absolutely bloody brilliant. She never had a day sick in 4 years and only had 2 weeks off plus Xmas. One time for the 2 week holiday period we needed cover, she found a friend who had a farm and she had them for us and they felt like they had a holiday grin. Oh and she was a fab cook and gave the children delicious home cooked food every day.

I know we were pretty lucky and found a CM star, but worth going to see a few and if you find a really good one you like, you may want to try it. Otherwise you can revert to the more 'shared care' of nursery.

blondefriend Tue 29-Jan-13 21:16:50

We use both.

My dd (4yrs) has been at nursery since 9 months and loved it almost from day 1. She is confident, talkative and extremely social. She loves being in the thick or it at all times.

My ds (2.5yrs) started at nursery aged 1 year and hated it. We moved him to a childminder and he absolutely adores her. She dotes on him as well and he has thrived in the one-on-one/small numbers in her household. He has become more independent and confident because he always knows he can go back for that all important cuddle.

Basically look at both and choose the right situation for your dc as it's such an important decision to make.

ZuleikaD Wed 30-Jan-13 06:10:36

I agree with look at both. I used a nursery for DD for about 5m and it was awful, with hindsight I would have used a CM. Being a CM myself now I have had children brought to me who've been miserable at nursery - I think you do have to be prepared to change if they're obviously not settling.

With regard to bonding with one person, it's important to remember just how important that bonding is for a child's emotional security. Babies can only bond with a maximum of five or six adults and that's recognised in good practice guidance (which is exactly why a nursery should have a key worker assigned to your child - so that they can bond with one person). One of my main gripes with the nursery we used was that they had such high staff turnover and such a bitty shift system that she didn't have one person who looked after her on all the days she was there, there were at least two and sometimes four.

MaryPoppinsBag Wed 30-Jan-13 10:27:04

I am a CM BTW.

I would choose a CM because I like the idea of children being in a homely setting looked after by a 'mother figure', and to be able to form a good bond with one person (I found the nursery I worked in had quite a high staff turnover and staff switched rooms regularly).

I want my children to experience life in the community, go to get groceries (small daily shop- they can get so much out of it - counting, learning new words, choosing what they want for dinner, learning where food comes from) go to the library, go for walks, feed the ducks, go on trips and go toddler groups and CM network groups.

CM now have lots knowledge and good resources and know how to use them to make sure children are learning through play. This is due to being able to access the same training as many nursery staff.

I wouldn't mind if a CM has her friend /sister/ Mum round for coffee occasionally as long as my DC was entertained and not totally ignored! It's nice for children to meet other adults and their DC's.
(I haven't done coffee with friends as a minder but my relatives do pop in and make a massive fuss of my mindees which makes the mindees day.)

The downside of choosing a CM for me would be finding cover for times when the CM or her DC's were Ill. But this would be less important than them experiencing the whole package a CM has to offer.

We used nursery for all the reasons above. My DSs were both very happy and still speak fondly. They went ft from 1 and 3, and I had no reservations or issues with the nursery at all. They were fantastic and the key workers all lovely.

DSs don't seem to get ill!! Very lucky we are.

I didn't want to get them too attached to one person....we have had a series of APs as well, and the changeovers have been ok (only traumatic on one occasion, but older DS soon recovered and speaks fondly of that AP on occasion).

My boys are happy and well adjusted, and it worked for them. The transition to school was smooth. I think it very much depends on the nursery and the child. Incidently, we moved just before DS2 started school, and he went to another nursery for a few days....he didn't like it at all!

ChunkyPickle Wed 30-Jan-13 10:41:54

Mine goes to both - although my CM has grown-up children so there's not an issue with her children being ill and her having to cancel.

I liked the child-minder for when he was younger (he's 2.5 now) because it was much more homely - like going to play at a friends, and I like the nursery now he's older because it's starting to get him into the idea and routines he'll need for school.

He absolutely loves both, although I think that these days if I were to ask him to pick, he'd probably go for the nursery because there are older children there, vs. the child-minder where he is one of the oldest.

waddamess Wed 30-Jan-13 23:31:03

My strong advice would be to go for 1) a good nanny if you can afford it, share with one another family if you must. Chose someone caring as opposed to anyone billing themselves as an 'educator' or 2) a good childminder with as few mindees as possible. Nursery is not the place for under-3s, they just cannot get the care they need at this vulnerable age. Look up any book on attachment theory. Best of luck.

OutragedFromLeeds Thu 31-Jan-13 00:49:41

I've worked in nurseries and am now a nanny. I would always go with a nanny, nanny-share or childminder for an under 2. My reasons would be;

1) Many nurseries have one room per age group plus outside space so your child will spend their whole time in one of two places. With a childminder they will be out and about at the park, softplay, swimming, the zoo, a farm, the library etc etc etc. I hated working in nurseries for this reason and wouldn't want to inflict it on a child.

2) Working in a nursery does not pay well. I found this meant that a significant portion of the staff were inexperienced teenagers or too unmotivated/disinterested/uneducated to do anything else. There were staff who just loved the kids and had a high-earning partner to pay the bills, but they were in the minority. Staff turnover can be high because the ones who are motivated leave to become nannies/childminders.

3) I'd prefer there to be one person responsible for my child as I think accidents are more likely to happen when the responsibility is shared. Children are able to choke/drown/strangle themselves at nursery because no one person is watching out for them. Three staff are in the garden with 9 children, but there is no one-on-one responsibility so carer A thinks carer B is watching your child, Carer B thinks Carer C is, Carer C thinks Carer A is and your child is quietly choking in the Wendy house. That's an extreme example obviously, but the same is true when you drop them off and say please make sure they have X/don't have X or bear in mind he's really upset about X the person you've told gets moved to another room/goes to lunch and no-one knows about your request.

4) Most children start school at 4 years old where they will learn about routine and rules and group care and not being individually catered for. I don't know why you wouldn't want them to have a bit of home care prior to entering this world. We use foster carers instead of children's homes for the very reason that children need a homely environment. It's ok for a few hours a week, but a 6 month old baby in institutionalised care 50 hours a week is horrible imo.

5) With a childminder your childen are cared for in the community, they will meet children in the park/playgroup etc who will be neighbours, who they will go to school with. They will learn about being out in the world, crossing the road, going to the shop, see a building site, a fire engine etc. They will speak to other adults in the library, wait their turn in a queue, just learn things and have experiences they wouldn't get sat in a purpose-built, toy-filled, enclosed room.

6) If your child makes friends the will be able to have playdates/meet up with these friends. If there is a child at a playgroup who attacks/bullies the other kids the childminder can stop going. At a nursery you child will have to put up with whoever is there, if a friend is older and gets moved up they get split up, if they have a biter/pusher/snatcher staff will do their best but your child is going to be locked in a room with them for 50 hours a week.

7) The more children the less child-led the activties are, nurseries will almost always have more children than a childminder .

8) There are benefits to mixed-age care, as one of the younger ones your DC will learn and enjoy the older ones, when they get bigger they'll learn to care, share and be patient with the little ones.

9) Most of the advantages of a nursery are to you and not your child e.g. they're open 51 weeks a year, I won't need to take time off to cover holidays/sick, my child won't get attached to anyone else (this one's really selfish; it's actually in your child's interest to be attached to their caregiver).

10) You know exactly who you're dealing with, you have personally interviewed the childminder, seen their certificates and CRB, got references from other parents. With a nursery you have no say over their staff. You trust the nursery management to take on qualified, first-aid trained, CRB checked staff. If someone leaves and is replaced or off sick and an agency person is sent in you trust the nursery as a whole, but you have no idea who is actually looking after your child. My first job in a nursery I was unqualified, no CRB, no first aid, they didn't check my references, but they were short-staffed and I was cheap. Second day they left me to supervise 'the sleepers' while the rest went for lunch. 20 sleeping babies/toddlers and someone who just came in off the street....

10) Most importantly you don't know what goes on behind closed doors. One of the nurseries I worked in was Ofsted rated good, was full with a waiting list, we had siblings coming through over a period of years, parents were happy and it was like one of those Panorama expose things. Awful, truly awful. With a childminder you're dealing with one person so if there is an issue you can go direct to the cause, not dealing with 'room manager', 'nursery manager' when the actual issue may be with a student who was in that week. A childminder is out in the community so you can get good word of mouth reports on who is good and who isn't.

thunksheadontable Thu 31-Jan-13 01:09:37

I think some of this is a bit extreme Outraged! In any childcare setting you don't know what goes on behind closed doors and in a cm' s you don't know what other adults your child may come into contact with etc. I originally chose a cm but when I did a drop in unannounced saw children in her husband's car not in car seats, bouncing around while the car was moving. Also 51 week care is usually chosen as some jobs don't tolerate frequent absences for illness and not all of us have backup, it suits the family to have a roof over our heads not just me!

thunksheadontable Thu 31-Jan-13 01:17:32

Also same applies if another mindee is biting etc or making friends. If you are going to go with extreme Wendy house choking examples, the chances of your child being killed in a car accident are higher at cm' s but still improbable. Many cm' s have quite a lot of after school kids if partner is coregistered number can be quite high. Blanket shock statements silly. I would have loved a cm but very few available near me. It isn't always a free choice.

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