My feed

to access all these features

Find nursery advice from other Mumsnetters on our Nursery forum.


Help me choose my nursery

6 replies

Bouncingturtle · 16/02/2008 09:03

Posted in childminders etc. by mistake

Been to look at my local nursery (SureStart), they were happy to show me around without an appointment and it looks really nice.
I am going to look around at a few others and make my choice but have some questions for those in the know!
a) It mentions in the T&C that I can have 2 weeks annual leave from the nursery where I don't pay fees. Is this typical? My DH and I both have 5 weeks AL from work, so I would imagine that we would be taking DS out of nursery for longer than just 2 weeks, though not necessarily 5, as there will be odd days.
b) I think they were a bit thrown by my mentioning washable nappies! Do most nurseries prefer disposables? One of the ladies did seem unfazed by them.
c) It also mentions in the T&C about formula milk - to be provided by parents. No mention of EBM. DS will be about 8 months when he starts, and I could still be bfing then and would prefer to give them EBM to give him during the day. Again is there any H&S issues I should be aware of?

If you can think of any other questions I should be asking please can you advise - ds is my first and I want to be assured I'm picking the right nursery for him.

I've considered childminders but to be honest I'm not keen as I have no family or friends locally to fall back on if childminder rings in sick or is on holiday - so either DH or I would have to take the time off to take care of ds. We already expect to have to take some annual leave when ds is ill, but we'd rather keep holidays for when we want to use them IYSWIM? Though I'm happy to hear any rebuttals from CMs on this matter?


OP posts:
ShinyDysonHereICome · 16/02/2008 09:42


I'll answer your questions point by point I think!

a) It's fairly unusual for nurseries to give parents any unpaid time for holidays to this sounds like a very good deal to me.

b and c) It's within the Birth to Three framework that all children's individual needs are catered for. As such they should be fully happy to use washable nappies so long as their changing areas are properly equipped. You'll probably just need to provide any bits and bobs that they need in terms of liners/pads etc.

EBM so long as it's clearly labelled should be fine.

You haven't mentioned the nursery facilities, staff:child interactions or any general 'gut feelings' about the practice there.

I have pasted a document below from the National Day Nurseries Association website which will hopefully be helpful but lastly, what area is this nursery in? Other Mumsnetteres may be able to share their experiences with you

Are you looking for a Nursery?
Here are some important points to consider when looking for a nursery:

Seal of Approval

  1. Always ensure that the nursery you choose is registered with OFSTED.

The registration certificate should be displayed together with a current certificate of insurance.

  1. Does the nursery belong to a professional organisation such as National Day Nurseries Association, keeping them informed of current issues?

  1. You may ask to see copies of the recent OFSTED report highlighting the quality of nursery education and care and the appropriateness of equipment and facilities.

  1. Has the nursery gained any kite-marks of excellence, especially those endorsed by the government or Investors in Children kite mark e.g. NDNA?s Quality Counts, Investors in People or Investors in Children.

Happy, Safe and Clean

  1. Is there a safe and clean outside play area?

Is the interior bright, warm, clean, well decorated and welcoming?
Is the equipment good quality, clean, safe and appropriate?

  1. What sort of meals are provided and at what time? Is the food fresh? Can they provide for special diets? Are the menus changed on a regular basis?

  1. Do the children in the nursery look happy and well occupied? Are the children using a variety of equipment and are staff involved with their play?

  1. Are the staff happy, relaxed, well presented, calm and confident?

  1. Ask about the staff to children ratios. Here are the guidelines they should follow:

1:3 0-2 years
1:4 2-3 years
1:8 3-5 years

High Standards

  1. 50% of staff must hold relevant childcare qualifications such as NVQ Childcare Level 2 or equivalent.

One member of staff should have a first Aid certificate and all supervisors are required to have an NVQ Childcare Level 3 or equivalent.

  1. Do parents and staff work in partnership recording your child?s activities and achievements?

Will your child be attached to a key-worker? Who will be your main contact and who will keep you informed?

  1. What will the cost be and what does this include? For example nappies, meals, holiday charges etc.

  1. Activities to be discussed are; diet, potty training, emergency procedures, discipline and other nursery polices.


  1. Did you enjoy your visit? Was it friendly, relaxed and informative? Did your child enjoy it?

  1. Your local children?s information service will keep an up-to-date list of registered providers. The local authority switchboard will have the telephone number or visit

Speak to friends and family ? personal recommendations are an excellent start. If possible look at more than one nursery before making your decision.

PixelHerder · 16/02/2008 09:43

My DD has been in nursery since she was 5.5 months (I just missed the longer mat leave, grrr!)

Here are some considerations I'd suggest, in no particular order:

  • obviously look for things like a happy, clean atmosphere and plenty of toys / activities / facilities in evidence

  • proper separate sleeping facilities with cots for babies under 1 (not just bunged in a bouncer in a quiet corner somewhere)

  • a good nursery should let you set your own schedule for a baby under 1 - you give them a schedule for eating, sleeping etc and they report back to you each day (in writing) exactly what has happened - how long they slept for, wet/dirty nappies, what they ate and drank and when

  • consider very carefully how you're going to get there and back every day and turnaround times from work etc, factor in getting stuck at work, traffic jams, parking etc. (It is extremely stressful if you're constantly panicking about being late picking them up) Opening times vary quite a bit ime

  • I would have thought that most nurseries would be happy to store EBM in the fridge for you, i just included a bottle of it with the other foods I left for her each day, there was no 'special' arrangements for it

  • the 2 week holiday thing is in line with the nurseries I have looked at

  • every nursery I have seen (about 4 or 5) seemed to be happy with washable nappies

  • smaller, privately owned nurseries are supposed to have a better reputation in general, however it's no guarantee. You can look them all up on the Ofsted website, though bear in mind that some reports may be a bit out of date

  • look for things like how approachable and 'switched on' the staff are, and whether you are treated with some respect as a client. (Don't forget you are paying for your child to be there!) I have encountered some attitudes where they seem to think you are lucky to have your child there and that the nursery is run solely for their convenience not yours

Good luck!
Bouncingturtle · 16/02/2008 10:58

This is great, very useful.

On my first visit I liked the look at the nursery, they given me a load of literature outlining fees, facilities, structure of the day and other useful info, the staff seemed very pleasant and the children quite content. They showed me their procedure for dealing with food allergies which seems very thorough.
Just wanted to make sure there was nothing I missed. Nothing's too good for my PFB
Going to visit some other nurseries and see what I think and then go back to this one.
the hours are an important factor, both DH and I travel a fair old distance from home (unfortunately in completely opposite directions!) but I will be asking for a reduction of my hours, which I think I will get, when I go back to work. Plus I am going to look or a job which is a little more local as well.
Thanks again for all your welcome advice!

OP posts:
sophiewd · 16/02/2008 11:02

DD goes to our local surestart nursery and we are really happy with it, it has a really low turnover of staff which is good, a separate sleeping area and we get 1 weeks holiday a year so 2 is fantastic. I also like the fact that as you didn't need an appointment then they don't have anything to hide. EBM shouldn't be a problem, and if you provide a bucket for washabe nappies and take them home every evening then that shoudln't be a problem either.

Missmodular · 18/02/2008 10:25

How does the washable nappy thing work in nurseries usually? At my dd's old nursery they were happy to put the used ones in nappy sacks for me to take home and wash, but at new nursery they've asked if I can provide a bucket. I'm not sure how I can take a sloshing bucket of nappies home every day, as I plan to cycle there most days, but then the alternative seems to be fishing dirty nappies out of a bucket to take home at the end of the day! How does it work for other people?

Sorry to hijack this thread, but I'm interested to know!

whateverhappened · 05/03/2008 21:40

all sounds fine to me - lucky you getting two weeks paid holiday! We've just got to pay all the year around. The nursery is great, but paying year round is a minus. As DD is in school, we tend to keep DS out of nursery if we're off looking after her, and just take the hit.

HI all, DD was the first child in her nursery to use washables - nursery was really good about giving them a go. Now several kids use them. They put them in nappy bags for me, but asked if I could provide a large plastic container with lid - they put the nappy bags into that so that no pong emerges. Now there are several kids using them, and all with large tupperware boxes. Some people bring the whole box home every night, but I just took the nappy bags out and stuffed them in the rucksack.

Worth asking about the food they serve - friends of mine have had bad experiences, with lots of chips, sweets, and processed food. Also worth asking about outdoor time - even the babies in our nursery got their outdoor slot, and the older kids got brought for picnics outside, which they loved.

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.