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When's a good age for a baby/toddler to start nursery (if there's a choice)

(6 Posts)
Maria2007 Wed 17-Jun-09 13:42:04


I have a 10 month old little boy. I work from home part-time & we employ a part-time nanny for 20 hours per week. For the moment we're very happy with this arrangement (she's been with us since DS was 5 months old).

DS is very sociable & happy & loves being with other babies (I take him to playgroups often). DP & I are thinking of sending him to nursery from the autumn / or early 2010, just so we can have the opportunity to do it gradually. I'll probably return to part-time work- not home based anymore- from January / February onwards, by which point DS will be 16-17 months. DP is really keen to send him to nursery part-time, as he feels a good nursery is a good, safe environment, with lots of stimulation for DS. I, on the other hand, love being at home with him & taking short breaks from my work & hanging out with him, & doing things like toddler groups during my hours with him everyday. However, it's very possible his nanny will leave the UK next spring... so I want his separation from his nanny (who he loves) to be gradual. I also believe, on some level, that a good nursery will be a better option for him soon. But when is the right time? Is there an 'ideal' age that you would choose? I know babies do fantastically at nursery from very early on, but given that I can wait a bit longer, should I do that, or should I go ahead & try it out? And the idea of taking him to nursery part-time (e.g. 3 afternoons a week)- is that a good idea, or will it actually make it harder for him to adjust, than, say, 5 afternoons a week?

Many thanks in advance for any ideas...

Wigeon Wed 17-Jun-09 14:01:15

For arguments against too much nursery, see Steve Biddulph - I found this quite useful as it resonated with my gut instinct. It suggests the maximum amounts of time at nursery for different age children / toddlers.

However, I'm sure you can find evidence / research supporting the opposite! But this book is certainly thought-provoking.

Can't give any advice from personal experience though as I am still (just!) a SAHM on maternity leave!

purepurple Wed 17-Jun-09 19:47:18

It is easier to settle a younger baby into nursery than an older one, because of the stages of development and the seperation anxiety issues.

The best time to start a child at nursery is when you feel able to cope with it. A child will be able to adapt to changes. But only when it's mother feels it is the right thing to do.

IME full days are easier to cope with for babies than half days. 3 full days a week sounds like a good compromise. You get to spend time with your baby and they get to go to nursery and socialise.

angel1976 Wed 17-Jun-09 20:55:37

It depends on baby I think. DS went from 11 months and by then, I was tearing my hair out at home with him as he would be whinging by 10am if we are not out and about doing stuff. I really felt he was ready then and he took about a month to settle fully but is very happy there now (16 months old).

I don't feel any guilt at all with regards to DS being in nursery. He is there full-time four days a week (I work PT and get Wednesdays off). This arrangement works well for us as I never feel nursery is too full on for him as he is there two days, then a break (a day with me) and then another two days. But we are very happy with the care he gets in the nursery he is in as well and feel we are very lucky! I'm expecting number 2 in November and we are going to keep him in nursery for either 2 full days or 4 half days as we feel it's important he keeps that routine and his friends when he gets a baby brother or sister. I can't imagine DS would be very happy to be stuck at home all day with mum and a new baby but that's because I know my DS well!

If I were you, I would just play it by ear for now... Something might change in your DS that makes you think that he is ready for nursery. Start looking around for a nursery NOW though, the good ones usually have a long waiting list! Good luck!

Maria2007 Thu 18-Jun-09 11:10:27

Very interesting, thanks for writing this down. I find the idea that a good time to send a baby to nursery is when the mother's ready quite interesting. It's of course much simpler when there is a job to return to, in which case I'm sure things get sorted out in a better, quicker way. In my case, I know I can torture myself with the pros & cons for a while longer, but in the end, its up to me & DP to make a decision at some point & carry it out. I know our DS will feel much better about nursery if we're behind the choice 100%. If we are ambivalent & unsure about it then that'll be harder for DS...

JoeJoe1977 Thu 18-Jun-09 11:24:51

IMO the best time to send a child to nursery (if you have a choice) is when he/she will gain something from that experience that they won't get at home. The reasons for this will obviously vary depending on your home life and the child.

We sent DS1 when he was 15 months old as his language was starting to develop and we wanted him to be bilingual (welsh/english). We thought it would be good for him to spend some time in an environment where only Welsh was spoken rather than the mixture that he gets at home.

He has loved the experience and is really looking forward to going to school in September. He has done between 2 and 4 sessions (half days) a week depending on circumstances for over 2 years (I put him in for extra sessions when we moved house and when DS2 arrived).

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