Am driving myself and DH doolally going round in circles over which nursery would be best for DD (who'll then be 12mo) when I go back to work.
Initially I'll be doing 3 full days a week from January (DD will do 2 days in nursery and then 1 day with grandparents), but I have a feeling work will want me to do 5 mornings from April.
Nursery #1 - Part of a small chain. It's in a fab building, lots of new shiny equipment, though very little no outside space. Can take up to 100 children at any one time, baby room is up to 15 months, then next room is 15-24 months, next room is 24-36 months, next room up is 36 mths-school. Apparently low turnover in staff, but all very young - most 20ish, a couple late 20s. Do not offer morning/half day sessions until 24 months. 15 min walk away, located in posh part of town. Ofsted = good.
Nursery #2 - Privately owned one-off. Based in a victorian semi and looks a bit scruffy. Only takes 23 children max in total - 5 in baby room, then 2x 2-5yo rooms holding 7 kids and 11 kids (2 nursery assistants in each room) but as its so small there's lots of integrating between all rooms. Low turnover in staff, mix between youngish girls and more motherly (max 40yo?) women. Has back garden which is fairly small, but very close to a big park. Happy to do morning sessions provided the space is there come April. 15 min walk away, in grottier part of town. Ofsted = outstanding.
So.............. With the first one, the lack of outside space bothers me, but I like the newness of it and the different rooms for different ages The fact they won't do half days could be expensive and incovenient. Has a good reputation and I know a few people who have kids there now who rave about it though suspect part of this is because it the trendy nursery so people brag a bit and it's likely that DD would know more people transferring from nursery to school when she gets to that point.
With the second one, I like the fact it's small and DD would potentially get more attention due to the low ratios - not so sure on the mix of older kids but get that because it's small it's relatively manageable. Not sure if it would be boring/unstimulating/cabin fevery as it's a smaller building and DD would be in the same room for the best part of 3 years (from ages 2-5yo). Also potentially less classmates due to much smaller numbers overall.
I'm leaning towards #2, for the flexibility and cozyness, but the lure of the shiny newness of #1 is niggling at me.
We went to see #1 when DD was v v v little (about 4mo) so difficult to see what her "reaction" was. Went to see #2 yesterday and she seemed to really like it after taking a while to warm up which is usual for her, specially seeing as she'd had about 20 mins nap in total all day and was giggling at the other kids and craning her neck to see the pictures and stuff on the walls.
Gah. I never thought picking a nursery would be this difficult. And i know you guys can't pick for me either, but it helps to jot it down.
From your description I'd go for the second one, more experienced staff and a cosy environment, one-to-one attention and consistent care givers are far more important at such a young age. You can always do days at the other nursery once she's older if you find she's getting bored of the original one. We used a day nursery AND a pre-school with our second dc, it was so successful we're going to do the same with dc3. The pre-school is next door to the primary school so we started DS there early last year before starting school in September so he got to know some of the children and could participate in the school familiarisation activities.
I had a similar dilemma. Went for the smaller,grottier place with lovely, motherly staff. Never regretted it. Imagine your job. Would you rather spend your days in a warm, friendly, stable team, or would you prefer a newer building with more gadgets but less connection with your colleagues?