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How does 1 nursery staff look after 3 babies?

(18 Posts)
AntiHop Tue 06-Jan-15 22:59:25

My PFB will be starting nursery 4 days a week when she is 8 months old. My DP and I are very happy with our choice of nursery, the staff seem caring and it is friendly.

I just can't get my head round how one staff member will look after 3 young children. Can someone enlighten me? I just can't picture what her day will be like. It's a small nursery and she'll be the only under 1 year old in the under 2s room. The baby next nearest age will be 12 months. She's 4 months now and it takes all my energy to keep her looked after and happy. She will only sit in one place without my input or being on my lap for about 10 minutes. I know she'll be different when she's 8 months, but I just can't imagine how 1 staff member can manage her and 2 other young children.

Can someone tell me what it's like? I know it is possible, I just can't picture it!

ReallyTired Wed 07-Jan-15 02:50:43

It's not as bad as you think. A nursery nurse does nothing but look after the babies. She (or he) does nothing but look after the babies and she is in a room that is 100%. Looking after an active baby at home is harder because parents usually have to cook, clean or do other chores at the same time. Babies often nap at different times of day, even though many nurseries encourage a routine with the toddlers of all the children having a nap after lunch.

I think the worst point must be the morning as the majority of babies cry at dropping off time. My daughter went nursery at 8 months and she used to sob every morning for the first 6 weeks. Separation anxiety is very intense at this age.

Graciescotland Wed 07-Jan-15 03:56:45

I'm pregnant with twins and so I was speaking to the nursery nurse about the very same thing. She told me that babies are a bit like dominoes so if one cries they all cry so she'll comfort the first one and finds that if they stop then they all stop. I do think it must be tricky though especially if one of the children is a lot more high needs than the others.

DearGirl Wed 07-Jan-15 05:57:04

There is a common misconception that a key person at nursery does all the care of just 3 children. However a key person is just a named individual who takes on the responsibility of doing all the babies paperwork and is a person parents will know to chat to. In reality all members of staff in the room will care for all the babies; feeding, changing, cuddling, etc. So in reality 2 members of staff will be looking after the needs of 6 babies.

A key person as said above is just a title indicating who will do paperwork for the babies. When I ran my 1-2 room I had 11 named toddlers as my key children as my assistant couldn't have that responsibility however she pitched in and cared for the children and did everything painting, feeding etc. Which allowed me to focus on paperwork, monitoring development, clearing up, cuddle an upset baby or deal with a poorly one etc.

ReallyTired Wed 07-Jan-15 11:42:05

Dear girl
I hope you had at least two assistants for 11 children

DearGirl Wed 07-Jan-15 12:25:13

I had 11 children on the books most days we had 6 - hence 1 assistant when we had all in I had 2 assistants and sent the 11th up to the next room.

HSMMaCM Wed 07-Jan-15 16:56:22

Like reallytired says ... All they have to do is look after the children. Also, babies love looking at, playing with and copying other children.

TiggyD Wed 07-Jan-15 20:34:50

Pretty much all a nursery nurse has to do is look after the children. And he'll be doing it somewhere specially made for looking after children. And he would have BEEN TRAINED. I spent 2 years at college and have done loads of training courses since, and keep up to date on new practices and theory. Nursery nurses are childcare professionals.
Do you ever wonder how mechanics can fix cars? I bet not. Ever wonder how gardeners know so much about plants? Nope? Why do people wonder how nursery staff can look after 3 babies, or work in a room of 16 toddlers? Because they are better at childcare than most.

BackforGood Wed 07-Jan-15 20:41:57

What Tiggy said.
Also others, who have said about not also having to do any chores, cook meals, etc.
Very often, there will only perhaps be 4 babies in, so the ratio goes down to 1:2 anyway.
Perhaps you should go onto the multiple births section, and ask how they cope grin

Mumoftwoyoungkids Wed 07-Jan-15 20:44:33

Wait until she starts school. Then there is one teacher and one TA for 30 of them! That really really freaks me out.

For the babies I think a lot of it is about the room being purpose built. So there is no risk of them sticking their fingers in a plug socket or pulling a bookcase down on top of themselves. Also I suspect it is easier for 2 adults and 6 babies to enjoy story time / singing than one adult and one baby.

Plus they are not trying to cook the dinner / arrange the car service at the same time.

GlitzAndGigglesx Wed 07-Jan-15 20:47:31

I did work experience in a nursery in the under 2s room and thought the exact same as you op. All the assistants managed just fine. The children all napped at different times which I guess made it slightly easier. I take my hats off to the workers!

HomeIsWhereTheHeartIs Wed 07-Jan-15 20:51:39

Remember that your baby will be hugely entertained just by watching the other babies. There will be so much more going on in a nursery room compared to the 1-2-1 time you have at home.

FishWithABicycle Wed 07-Jan-15 20:52:00

If in a childproofed environment babies that age will entertain themselves and each other a lot of the time. It's very different from how they behave when they are alone with mummy. Something to press buttons on, something that makes a noise when you hit it. Something of a new texture. Sheer heaven. You don't have to interact 1:1 with all of them all the time.

m0therofdragons Wed 07-Jan-15 20:53:09

I have twins (plus an older one) and I have a friend with triplets. Our children are all doing well, hitting milestones, are confident and overall, happy. Nursery staff will be fine. It is a bit of a juggling act.
If you sit with your legs crossed on the floor you can have three babies/toddlers on your lap for reading a story etc

AntiHop Wed 07-Jan-15 23:21:44

Thanks very much for all your feedback. tiggyd I hope my post didn't imply that I don't realise that nursery staff are trained professionals. I appreciate this but I was trying to picture how they actually do it in practical terms.

My dd is 4 months now and will be 8 months when she starts nursery so I know she'll have changed a lot. However one thing that worries me is that at the moment she gets upset after about 10 minutes if she's left to her own devices. She'll sit happily for quite some time on my lap or in the sling but if I put her on the mat or chair she'll get upset after about 10 mins. Will the nursery staff be able to pick her up after 10 mins or will she become more resilient or will her behaviour just be different at nursery?

defineme Wed 07-Jan-15 23:27:18

Think about all the parents of mutiples. I was a sahm with twins and a 2 yr old. It was fine, I wasn't trained like a nursery nurse either.

minipie Wed 07-Jan-15 23:46:49

AntiHop my baby was like yours, but after about 6 months she got much happier to be left on her own for a bit as she could sit up and grasp toys. She still was pretty demanding compared to more laid back babies I knew, and couldn't be left for too long, but for much longer than before. Makes a huge difference. Also by that age your LO will be entertained by watching what the other babies are doing so again that will make life easier for the nursery staff. (Then it gets harder again once they get mobile, though easier in a fully child proofed room).

Also, every nursery will have its mix of those babies who need lots of attention and those who are laid back and happy to be left alone... the former probably get more attention ie more than 1/3... the latter probably less.

grin at all these comments about trying to cook/clean/do errands while look after a baby. I barely managed to get myself dressed and have lunch until dd was 6 months or so, never mind doing any housework or errands!

TiggyD Thu 08-Jan-15 20:33:29

Antihop, don't worry, You didn't say anything to upset me. It's just a sensitive subject for me and most nursery workers. The next person who suggests it's "Just playing all day" WILL be decapitated.

Babies are pretty happy if there's enough stuff to explore and do things with. Look for a nursery where the staff are on the floor rather than standing up looking down at children. And avoid any nursery that spends more than 30 seconds explaining the paperwork they keep on children. A mix of ages of staff is always handy, and look out for too may supply staff.

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