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Nursery vs childminder, how to decide?

(26 Posts)
ThePartyArtist Thu 28-Jul-16 13:30:37

I'm pregnant but starting to think about childcare as friends have told me it's necessary to arrange in plenty of time. Child will be around 1 when it starts. We are unsure whether to go for nursery or childminder, can anyone advise on how you made the decision? I haven't yet looked at costs of either. Also my husband works his shift on a 2 week rota and we are unsure if such an arrangement could be made with a childcarer, e.g. we'd need 3 days' care on week and 1 the next week, then back to 3 then 1 and so on.


Family environment, less institutional.
Option of more trips out and about.
Potential to last longer e.g. when child goes to school.
I think you only pay for the hours you have rather than full days? But unsure if I have this right.

Everything hinges on one relationship going smoothly.
No other staff to see if childminder does something wrong.
Less facilities (e.g. only what they can fit in their house not what a whole nursery would have).
Childcare could be cancelled at late notice if childminder was ill - tricky as we have no family nearby.
We'd have to work around childminder's holidays.


More staff so plenty of people to see good practice is upheld.
Available pretty much 365 days a year so no need for us to arrange our holidays to coincide with when they're off.
Always available even if a member of staff is off sick.
Better equipment / facilities than you're likely to find in a childminder's house.

More school-type / institutional atmosphere, not so homely.
Potentially more expensive as you have to pay full days / half days rather than per hour - not sure this is correct though?
Fewer trips out.
Higher staff turn over.

greatbigwho Thu 28-Jul-16 13:34:47

We went for a nursery - I visited a couple of childminders and a couple of nurseries and the one my daughter is in was the one I felt happiest about. The rooms are fairly small, and in the year she's been there, there's been one staff member that's worked with her leave. We also don't have any family nearby and the fact a nursery won't shut because one person is ill was a huge factor for us as well.

I think it's a really personal thing, and I also think you'll know the best place when you see it! My daughter has come on in leaps and bounds since starting and I really feel like we made the best decision for her.

nosireebob Thu 28-Jul-16 13:47:44

Childminder here because we felt he'd be in a group environment long enough. Very happy with the choice but as you say there are a few things to consider:

- CM is cheaper but not by that much, £37 vs £45 per day roughly - here you pay full days and illness/holidays because she's got to keep the slot for your child whether you use the hours or not.
- CM illness and hols can be a pain. Was very rare fortunately but caused some issues. Went for a childminder who works closely with others so they could sometimes help out.
- my child has no siblings but basically lived in a family all day, experiencing big brother and two little sisters, whereas in nursery ages are less mixed.
- outings! One of the great things was that he still got to do lots of stuff I'd have done as a mum, swimming, parks, playgroups, toddler gym, rhythm time, zoo etc. Took the pressure off our weekends. We still do a lot but you don't feel they miss out if you aren't doing things all the time.
- he could stay with her during preschool which was only 15 hours so still needed wrap around care. Helped the transition a lot.
- I did sometimes feel a bit jealous that she had so much fun with my child - probably wouldn't with a nursery (selfish I know...)

Good luck with your decision

AllChangeNat Thu 28-Jul-16 14:03:25

We used a nursery for our first and are considering a childminder for our second.

We chose a great nursery and DD has enjoyed it, but there's been a real lack of continuity with having four or five different key workers over the last 12 months, messages don't get relayed effectively between all the staff in the room and it's been super inflexible with extra days being soooo difficult to obtain as there's never any space when we need them.

I like the continuity of a childminder and also that they can provide before/after school care once you start needing it. Also, they tend to be a bit cheaper. That said, they seem to finish earlier than a nursery so pick ups may be an issue for some.

NewMoonCup Thu 28-Jul-16 14:12:21

My first DD was at nursery as I didn't really know any CM but second went to CM as the care she provided was far superior to what the nursery were giving my second DD. We tried the same nursery but pulled her out after 6wks she didn't settle but settled straight away at CM never had any issues. Ask around as much as possible get recommendations the good CMs here are always busy for gd reason. My DD loved the outside time she got far more than nursery could ever offer and it made my life Alot easier as my oldest went there after school and for school hols care. The downside is the CM maybe tied to school holiday dates so unless you want to pay to keep a space when you away you take the same weeks as the CM. I love the personal relationship I built upwith my CM v nursery staff changing a lot. My CM did lots of playgroups and worked as part of a CM network so my DD had lots socialising.

alltouchedout Thu 28-Jul-16 14:21:16

Ds1 went to a nursery, ds2 was mostly family care and a bit of nursery, ds3 goes to a childminder. These days I'd always go for a cm, especially with a younger child. When ds3 is 3 I'll use his free hours for a nursery so he'll get a mix- the strong bond and home environment with his cm and the experience of a non home environment as early preparation for school with the nursery.

HSMMaCM Thu 28-Jul-16 16:13:36

As you (and others) say, there are pros and cons of both. Visit a few and see how they make you feel. There are good and bad of both types of setting and a visit will give you a good impression.

TurquoiseDress Mon 08-Aug-16 14:22:34

With our LO we went for a nursery, mainly because it was close to work and we were happy with what we saw while visiting.

Didn't really get into looking for CMs as we had the nursery already sorted. So can't really comment on cost angle.

In the 2 years at the nursery, none of the key workers have left, there is good mixing between the rooms so LO gets to play with older children too.

A big thing for us is that nursery is always open even if someone is off sick, so the only variable is when LO is unwell.

Also, we can take holidays whenever we choose, it doesn't have to be arranged around childcare. With my work it can be v difficult to organise annual leave when I want it, so it's one less thing to stress about.

All in all, been very happy with nursery but we were lucky to find the right one for us.

Other parents we know with 2 or more kids, all say CM or nanny when you have more than 1 child! I think a lot of this is due to cost.

NotCitrus Mon 08-Aug-16 15:23:43

Meet your nearest ones and see where you could have place. I was leaning towards nursery anyway (worried about childminder being sick or having holidays at inconvenient times), but my decision was made by no local childminders existing with any spaces, and one of the 3 nurseries I saw being so lovely I wanted to go there myself!

(one nursery I wouldn't send any child to, one was OK, two others had no space). I now know some local childminders who work in pairs or threes in their family home, so Mrs Childminder can do the school run while Mr Childminder and Grownupchild Childminder stay home, etc, with OtherChild registered to cover emergencies.

jannier Tue 09-Aug-16 09:38:52

In answer to some of your cm cons.....I have enough resources to stock a toy opened one...and nurseries borrow my stuff.
Everyday we have out...sand or dough or foam or kinetic sand or rice mix sensory play, water play, paint free access craft to sticking drawing etc. Home corner/shop, book area, dark den, sensory area with light tables sounds and scents, music construction toys and free selection of dress up, dolls house, cars, puzzles, endless list.

Staff there are 2 fully registered outstanding cm's here plus 2 assistants as can have settings of up to 4 adults.
Socialisation - we work closely with 4 other cms and setup activities and events to make sure children are happy to accept help from other familiar adults and to mix in large groups.

Children have the benefit of home environment that lasts for years still coming in their teens from a few months old.

The downs side....holidays are booked a year in advance 2 weeks summer, Christmas and possibly a few other days...parents match this between them so they still get some time to book at own choice.
Sickness can normally be covered by other cm and assistants and has been around 4 weeks in 20 years including cancer treatment and death of close family.

NathalieM Mon 15-Aug-16 09:13:30

A friend of mine is currently looking at moving back to the UK from Italy with her husband and little boy. She is originally from Brighton but has been out of the country for the last 8 years and her husband is Italian. It goes without saying that she is pretty nervous at the thought of coming back and yours truly offered (foolishly wink ) to help her out in terms of looking for childcare for her little one.

Whether to choose a nursery or a childminder is on her mind at the moment and I am currently scoping out both in Hove, so far I have come across some decent nurseries in Hove and it has been fairly plain sailing.
However, looking for a suitable childminder has been particularly difficult; I have mostly been trying to ensure that the ones I have spoken to are able to follow some kind of national curriculum to support the little one's development. A bit of patience and understanding will no doubt be required as his English is not quite there yet either, but I read before that language development in bilingual children can be a little delayed.
So far the majority of childminders have bee more than happy to meet me and to have an extended chat so I can get a feel for what they are like. However, a couple have been a little funny about his and one even wanted paying, which was a little bizarre.
This is all being done pretty last minute and I am a little concerned that I/we will need more time in assessing whether a childminder is right for us or not. My friend is coming over this week to meet them herself and to take a look at a couple of other nurseries as well.
This is all excellent practice for when I have my own wink

HSMMaCM Mon 15-Aug-16 17:31:51

CMs and nurseries follow the same EYFS curriculum. It's not optional except in exceptional circumstances.

The CMs might have had a lot of 'browsers' recently, which is annoying in your own time in your own home.

Erin1976 Wed 14-Sep-16 21:40:13

After a bit of research it would appear that a lot of child minders operate without Planning Permission (so my Husband Architect informed me). On this you can only assume that they have not notified there mortgage broker or house insurance policy, which is all well until something goes wrong.

The other alarming thing I have found out that all people in a nursery have to have a Disclosure check ( in Scotland), however child minders families do not have to be police checked.

Child minders do not have a spacial requirement therefore they could have six children in a very small space.

And the very obvious thing my darling husband pointed out, if a childminder has five or six children, what happens when the childminder needs a pee?

HSMMaCM Thu 15-Sep-16 12:27:33

Erin. CMs have to have childminding insurance and do not need planning permission to do so. All adults in the house have to be dbs checked ( in England - don't know about Scotland). There is also minimum space per child, same as nurseries. When a cm needs to pee, they assess whether the children are safe in the same way a parent would.

Elbekind Sat 08-Oct-16 18:24:19

Erin almost all of your post is incorrect.
I am a childminder and I do infact have a maximum number of children I can care for according to the square footage of my home (actual available floor space, not even the entire house).
Everyone living in the house over the age of 16 has to be DBS checked and on the DBS update service.
Usually, unless your specific house insurance says different, you don't need to notify your house insurance because you have your own childminder's insurance that you would use if anything were to go wrong involving a childminding child.
Also, only some mortgage broker'a require you to inform them you are childminding. Mine weren't interested.
It terms of needing to pee, my rooms are all risk assessed (as per OFSTED regulations) in order that I feel comfortable I can leave the three of those children that are over 5 (you are only permitted to look after 3 under 5s) in the room for a matter of minutes whilst I use the toilet. I then have the option of taking the other three children to the bathroom with me or I would do what I normally do which is risk assess the situation, make sure they are safe and leave them in the playroom/ high chair/ pushchair strapped in. I am pretty sure most parents deal with this just fine though.
I am usually very forgiving of people spreading incorrect information, we all do it, however that is a hell of a lot of totally incorrect information to post on a public forum.

jannier Tue 11-Oct-16 08:57:55

Erin, really where do you get your information from? All cm's are inspected by Ofsted and have to have insurance for their work and this includes and motor insurance (Ofsted also look at mot, driving licence) Mortgage companies do lend to cm's we often have to pay more but that's another thing. Everyone living in the house over 16 has been checked and when they come they check your identity again.
It really sounds like your looking for a reason to make us look bad.

many of us are qualified to degree level and most are level 3 which you can check if you asked at interview, whilst it is not uncommon for nursery to use less qualified staff often leaving them alone in various rooms.....I work in nurseries too. There have been many well publicised issues on safety and child protection in settings that demonstrate that larger settings are no guarantee of safety.....any type of setting can be bad that's why you have to visit and do research.

Maryann1975 Sat 15-Oct-16 15:59:21

Erin, I'm another poster who is annoyed about how many inaccuracies are in your post.
Your husband is the only one bothered that I don't have specific planning permission for childminding. The morgagte company weren't bothered when we bought the house and our home insurance are fine with it as long as the number of children excluding my own doesn't go over a set number (which is more than my ofsted ratios anyway).
My husband and i are both dbs checked. The other members of my family are not, but they are 10,8 and 5 so can not be checked.
I am allowed the full quota of children in this house (so 6 under 8, of which 3 under 5). In a previous, much smaller house, Ofsted would only allow me to care for three children because of the lack of space.
And as for what happens when I need the toilet. What happens when a parent needs the toilet? You either make sure everyone is settled in an activity and are quick, or you take them with you. This is much easier than when I worked in a nursery. I was often the only member of staff with 15 or so preschoolers on my own. It was a much harder judgement call as to whether to risk a toilet stop leaving 15 three year olds in a room than it is now I'm a childminder.

HyacinthFuckit Sun 16-Oct-16 08:53:01

You'd be pretty lucky to be able to book childcare on a flexible shifts basis. Most people who have that kind of working arrangement have to suck up paying for more childcare than they need. But I would imagine if you've any chance of finding it, it would be with a CM in an area where a lot of people work shifts. Ie, if she could sell your space on the days you're not using it rather than just having to leave it vacant and not be earning any money from it. Perhaps DH knows someone who does 'mirror' shifts to him?

My own circumstances are different to yours. I haven't needed childcare when mine were babies. For my eldest, we chose a nursery when aged 2.5 years. It worked out well and we're pleased with the decision. A CM wouldn't have offered what we wanted: the homely atmosphere was already available at home, the aim of nursery was to get a taste of that type of setting. However, we might be needing a few hours a week for the younger in a few months, around 2nd birthday, and for that we'd prefer a CM. My family members who work in early years all suggested CM for babies, nursery for older ones.

CMs are cheaper, round here it's about £35 a day as opposed to £42-55 for nursery, depending on provider. However they don't all take the childcare vouchers, whereas the nurseries do, so that would kind of cancel out any advantage for us. Not an issue if you'd be getting childcare tax credits instead though, or not eligible for vouchers.

jannier Mon 17-Oct-16 14:40:51

You defiantly can find cm's who take shifts and don't want paying the full time rate. You just need to look around and discuss options. Most will take vouchers as its no different to bank transfer. Not all will take the childcare funding as its less than normal rate some areas only paying around £2.50 an hour.

All registered childcare follows the same framework - EYFS and are inspected by OFSTED.

Its impossible to tell another family what is best for them if I was asked to give advice it would be to get a list of possible settings and encourage the parents to visit some of each and decide what feels right.
When looking at fees annualise the whole cost and include any extra charges and benefits to see if they are affordable.
Some cm's will prefer to meet you when they are not working first off as its easier to talk and keeps other children safe, some have problems with parents booking to come and not turning up. So if you make an appointment keep it or give plenty of notice for cancellations....when you work a 55 hour week and give up a Saturday morning its very annoying to have set up your home and then wait around all day when you should be doing chores you cant get done all week.

Architects are not involved in planning for childminding settings and do not know about EYFS regulations

HyacinthFuckit Mon 17-Oct-16 14:49:07

Re vouchers, the ones locally who don't take them told me they weren't interested in doing the paperwork it would require. I'm in an area where people would tend to be using tax credits for childcare rather than vouchers. Probably different somewhere more affluent where people would be less likely to get tax credits.

mumofhandsomeboys Mon 17-Oct-16 14:53:41

The only way to know which will work for you is to visit them, with DC if possible and see where you, and they, feel most comfortable. Good luck! :-)

jannier Tue 18-Oct-16 14:05:00

HyacinthFuckit - Im in an area with lots of 2 year old funding and tax credits so don't think its that - maybe they haven't looked at the paperwork it means- you do application they send bank details and email a copy of certificate done, set up for every parent who wants to use that company payment direct to your account all other paperwork is standard paperwork for any child and less than a funded child. You do have to release payment about 4 days before its due (the parent) the cm gets an email to say its been released.

PotteringAlong Tue 18-Oct-16 14:08:35

We went for nursery because we needed cast iron childcare and I couldn't work around another person being ill or having holidays outside of term time.

mouldycheesefan Tue 18-Oct-16 14:11:13

Our nursery wouldn't have let you do three days one week and one the next. That is going to be your key issue whether you choose childminder or nursery.
I suspect your options will be limited by this.

Thirtyrock39 Tue 18-Oct-16 14:14:20

Totally not true re cms not having to get family members police checked. I've known cms be struck off for bit declaring family members living with them.
I'd always choose a cm, more flexible, better bond for children as high staff turnover etc in nurseries however I have had some better cm than others. Also always risk they may stop cming and if you're not happy can be very awkward to change. Generally cms much better prices too.

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