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Visiting potential nursery - what questions should I have asked re: baby care?

17 replies

YanknCock · 13/05/2009 16:38

I phoned up the nursery on site at my DH's work yesterday just to get an idea of how early I would need to book a place if I wanted it for next March. Am due in late August and anticipate going back to work when baby is 6 months. They asked if I wanted to visit, so I went today, did ask some questions, but feeling like maybe I didn't know what I should be asking or looking for!

Here's what I did ask (in no particular order):

  1. Staff qualifications
  2. Staff ratios
  3. Opening times (and is it ok to come at different times each day?)
  4. Can parents come visit during the day?
  5. What do they do in case of illness?
  6. Do they work with reusable nappies?
  7. Are they okay with mums bringing in breast milk?
  8. How many naps do they take?
  9. How many nappy changes do they do in a day?

10. Do babies have outside time too?
11. How do the carers communicate with parents?
12. How do the babies adjust to full time care?
13. Cost

My overall impression of the place was good, but I just don't know if I was looking for the right stuff! The location is extremely convenient, so I really want to like the place.

What else would you have asked/looked for (keeping in mind baby is starting from age 6 months)? Thanks in advance.
OP posts:
bigchris · 13/05/2009 16:40

I think you covered everything there
tbh it sounds perfect as it's right near to your dh's work
was there a long waiting list or were they hopeful of a place for you in March?

llareggub · 13/05/2009 16:43

All of your questions will help you compare providers, but don't under-estimate the power and validity of your gut feeling towards them.

HensMum · 13/05/2009 16:47

For a baby, I'd ask whether they nap and do nappy changes according to when the baby needs it rather than a fixed schedule.

I'd also ask about food. I never even considered it when looking for DS's nursery (he was pre-weaning when I was looking) and I regret it. Ask to see menus, and whether they cook everything on-site, do they let children eat to their appetites, do they allow parents to bring in treats for birthdays etc?

Ask about their settling in policy too.

YanknCock · 13/05/2009 18:23

They couldn't really say as far as how long a space would be open, but if I were to pay the £45 admin fee now, I'd be guaranteed a place in March. The baby rooms weren't running at full capacity as far as I could tell.

I sort of asked about food in a weird way, by admitting I knew nothing about what babies ate at 6 months. Haven't thought/researched farther than the first six months! The lady said they do all kinds of fruit/veg purees cooked on site, and saw boxes of baby cereal in the kitchen. I think the older kids were having baked potatoes for lunch, and they have a snack in the afternoon as well. Sounded like a lot of kids had their breakfast there, or maybe it was just the babies? I know they were baking on site, saw the kitchen and someone was making lovely-smelling scones!

Thanks for suggestions about asking about eating to appetite/treats

I vaguely remembered seeing some threads about nappy changing schedules, so I did ask about it, and they do have set times for it. Though she said 'obviously if they smell a poo they'll change nappies right away'. I did say I thought four hours between changes seemed long for a baby (but what do I know!), and she said parents did sometimes request more changes and they were happy to accommodate. At the moment they had no one in reusables, but they'd had them before and were willing to do it.

Settling in, she said people usually started bringing babies/kids in a few weeks before for sessions to get them used to it. I probably need to ask more about what that involves.

Thanks for suggestions, any more?

OP posts:
babyOcho · 13/05/2009 22:20

How long the staff have worked there/staff turnover rates.

Do they sleep in a cot or on a mat in the main room.

Do they take photos for you. What 'activities' do they do with the babies during the day.

Ask for an example menu.

I agree that gut feeling counts for a lot. I saw a few nurseries and I never liked the look (from the outside) of the one that DD now goes to. But I went in and I loved it. And now thinking back on it, it was the only nursery where I was shown around by someone who worked in the baby room, in all the other nurseries I was shown around by management.

cookielove · 18/05/2009 18:49

i would just like to point out, both of my managers, have worked within the rooms and all rooms, so they have full knowledge of how each room works all staff are introduced to the parents, clearly all nurseries work differently.

Staff qualifcations should be on display and also in my nursery we advise parents to stay with there children and settle but we feel that if parents come to visit the children during the day this can be very unsettling, so i would say not to and just call instead to get an update

YanknCock · 19/05/2009 13:03

Thanks cookie & ocho. The lady who did the tour said some parents did come visit their kids, but that if the child seemed upset or confused by it they would ask that it stopped, which seems fair enough. Honestly, I think it will be enough that my husband is in the building next door and immediately available if needed.

Turnover rates, yes, definitely something I should have asked.

With qualifications, I wasn't even sure what specific qualifications the staff should be expected to have. She mentioned everyone had to go through food hygiene and something else (forgot already, pregnant brain), but I was looking more to find out what qualifications they had to look after babies/small children. Not even sure what the possibilities are for this, probably need to do more research!

OP posts:
merryberry · 19/05/2009 13:53

i prefer nurseries with a main named person for the child, and some sort of individual 'care plan' for the child, ask something along those lines maybe, if you are interested in some individualisation of care.

when firming up choice, ask maybe about sickness policy (in the kids, at what stage do you have to take them out) and when do they progress out of baby room (ideal answer being when they are ready, not on a specific date - my ds1 would have needed to stay in baby room until around 15 months, ds2 could have gone up at 10 months happily.

i think 45 quid holding fee is worth taking a punt on though.

AND ... i think i know you rl! i have been enjoying your squirrel thread and looked at your profile/pics just now and think that 2+2=4...i'm an ex-health protector, you too?

YanknCock · 19/05/2009 14:43

omg merryberry, I forgot to tell you I'd changed posting names! Yes, it's me!

The name is what J and I use as our pub quiz team name, short for Yankee and Cockney. We normally win, so they always have to read it out, to the guffaws of fellow patrons. I do so like to lower the tone.

Was told first name posters don't last on MN, so decided to use this.

Thanks for nursery advice, will continue to pick your brains on this subject when you visit.

OP posts:
merryberry · 19/05/2009 16:13

aaaaaaaaaaaaaah! tis a very mn smut fest of a name ;)

Grammaticus · 19/05/2009 16:19

The average age of the staff is important, the older the better, but presumably you could form a view on that.

Do they have a key worker for each baby and why/ why not.

What info do you get when you collect the baby.

cookielove · 20/05/2009 23:02

i really don't think age has an issue to quality of childcare, i feel that if your are comfortable with the people and get a good feeling when talking to them, that is what is most important! Nursery nurses should have the qualification of a level 3 and nursery assistances level 2 this can be any form of qualification as there are quite a few, you don't need a specific course on babies to work withthem as in training you receive a lot of baby traing as you do with all ages, however you may find that most nursery nurses and room leaders have gone onto do further training to do with the age group they are working with. For example i currently work with 2-3 and have gone on specific training for the age but within the nursery i have also worked with 0-1, 1-2 and occasionally 3-5, the most important training any nursery nurse can do is on the job, this is where you learn truly how to work with children,

Grammaticus · 22/05/2009 17:14

I do! I didn't want a load of 16 and 17 year olds caring for mine

cookielove · 22/05/2009 18:21

hmmm the youngest staff in my nursery are 20 ish, but if there are 16 and 17 year olds looking after your child i would be seriously worried as training doesn't start till 16 which means to be qualified you have to be 18. If your child is left with a room of 16 and 17 year olds i would be removing my child, and reporting the nursery, students are not allowed to be left alone with children, and that is a worry

juneybean · 22/05/2009 19:30

Usually the 16/17 year olds ARE training as in gaining their NVQ level 2/3 and are not to be left alone.

DiamondHead · 22/05/2009 19:34

You have to be at least 17 to count towards staff ratios.

PerfectPrefect · 22/05/2009 19:40

I think the most important thing is for you to go and visit another couple of nurseries sooner rather than later. As you say - you have no experience. You don't really "know" what you are looking for. There are some obvious things we can point out - but what is best is if you see a few nurseries and compare them directly. Try and ask the same similar questions. But at the end of the day we chose a nusery where the answers to teh questions were in some respects less favourable that another...but gut feeling made us choose another.

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