All of the nurseries round here seem to do a core day of 8-6, a short day of 9-4 and an extended day of 7-7. But we live in commuterville so that could be why the longer hours are readily available.
DD is 1 next week and we are currently doing our settle sessions at our chosen nursery and my advice would be to go visit the nurseries early and try not to get opinions beforehand - go with your gut instinct. Then go again a couple of months before your baby is due to start. We ended up putting DD's name down at 3 nurseries as we couldn't decide which and weren't sure where we'd be living. We lost the reg fee at a couple but it was worth it IMO.
Once you've got a short list start asking for recommendations or feedback from other parents, either through friends of friends or conveniently stroll past at kicking out time and ask a mum then!
I chose a childminder for my 1yo dd. She loves it, she's a fairly sociable and affectionate child and I was concerned she may be 'lost' in a nursery environment. She loves her childminder!
Another factor for me was that I'd rather pay directly to the childcarer (mines £7ph) than to a nursery where in my experience many of the staff are young, lacking motivation and experience of children. My cm earns £21ph with the three children she minds, much more motivational (most nursery carers are on minimum wage).
Having said that, I do know some parents with very outgoing children who have got on well at nursery.
Thanks guys, that is reassuring. It seems so much to think about! And everyone is warning me to reserve somewhere soon or be left without a place. I guess I know now why people with kids leave the office promptly!
I have a couple of parents who do this - I'm a childminder. We have a standard 8-6 contract and, on the occasions they need extra hours, we just charge for them separately. My earliest is 6am and my latest, thanks to London traffic, was 9pm: I sometimes take them home and put them to bed, then stay until the parents get back. I know I'm not the only childminder to offer this service.
As for continuity of care, I am still looking after 8 and 9 year olds that were with me as babies.
DD's nursery is 7.30-6.30, but she is only allowed to be there for 10 hours of that. Some of the staff will babysit out of hours and you can arrange for one of them to take your DC home if you put their car seat in the member of staff's car (rural).
Agreed you are unlikely to find 7-7 care anywhere without mixing modes e.g. nursery + nanny/babysitter. My DD's nursery is open 7:30-6:30 and I did view one that was 7-6:30 but they seem rare. My reasons for choosing nursery over CM: I didn't want to put all my trust in one person, I wanted flexibility of taking extra days as and when needed, I wanted continuity until DD starts school. But most of all I felt her personality lended itself to larger groups of children and the variety of stimulation that (her) nursery provides. I feel validated in my choice having a couple of friends left in tricky situations when the CM has no longer wanted/been able to care for their toddler and they have had a few week's notice to sort out alternatives. Luckily for them they had family who could cover a couple of weeks but I don't have that option.
Overall though I would say you need to wait and see the personality of the baby at around 8/9 months then work out what will bring out the best in them. By then you will know your priorities (dedicated sleeping area, access to outdoor space, interaction with older children, food on offer etc) Good luck!
As others have suggested, just visit a few nurseries and speak to a couple of childminders and see what you think. See if you can get any recommendations from local mums.
I would agree that 7-7, even if its only occasional, won't be available via a nursery - have never heard on a nursery opening at 7am (earliest I know of is 7.30am) or closing as late as 7pm (its usually 6pm latest). My DD's nursery does have nursery nurses that take on additional childcare outside of nursery (babysitting / mother's help in a morning etc) but that is a strictly private arrangement between the parent and the nursery nurse and you've obviously got to find someone who would be willing to do that.
Full daycare is the same as a private nursery I think. Children's centres (at least in my area) are more for parent&toddler sessions (i.e. where you attend with your child). Haven't heard of childcare through a children's centre.
The other thing to bear in mind is that a nursery attached to a school or an independent school is usually from age 3 upwards and that is generally for school hours (so say 9-3), and for term time only (i.e 38 weeks of the year). There may be wraparound care (i.e. before 9am and after 3pm, and in the school holidays) but you need to check.
The child minder v private nursery debate depends on what you think will be best for your DD. I think childminders tend to be cheaper and offer a more homely environment and probably more flexibility, but if s/he is ill, you generally have no fall back position. With a nursery, if one of the staff is ill they can usually cover that, they have more children & more age specific educational activities (just my opinion) but less homely, less flexible and more expensive.
Most school nurseries tend to be from aged 3 so that probably won't be an option.
Childminder may be better for the flexibility aspect. I doubt many nurseries are open until 7pm. Nurseries tend to charge a daily rate though so won't matter what times you pick up in the day (if that makes sense) DS nursery is 7.30am to 6pm, the price is the same for someone in 7.30 - 6 as it is for someone in 9-3.
I would visit a few nurseries, a few childminders and see what you feel will be best for you all.
Need to find somewhere for when I return to work in Jan 2014, our baby will be 1. Looked on local Family Hub there are so many search choices and its "tick one" not "search all"! What is the difference and how do we decide between... Children's centres, full daycare, private nursery, childminders, independent school nursery, nursery school? My main criteria would be quality, price and proximity to home. We also need a bit of flexibility, usually I could drop off at 8.40 and pick up at 5.20 but would like to have the option for 7-7 as I occasionally have to travel to London for work... Not sure how that would work with charging/fees if it was only occasional? Any guidance would be much appreciated, this is all really new to me.