Choosing a nursery for your baby

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Choosing a nursery for Theo was such an important decision to make. I go back to work at the end of January 2020 and while that feels like it’s still a way off as I write this (thankfully!), I knew that I needed to get a move on and find Theo a nursery that both Jamain and I were happy with. It was hard thinking about leaving Theo in someone else’s care while I go to work but I knew it had to be done and so I tried to do the best job I could. I’ve set out the process I followed below.

My first task was to put together a shortlist of nurseries that were a short drive away from our house and the train station, were well rated and had good Ofsted reviews. Once I had this shortlist, I made appointments to visit the nurseries for a tour and to find out all of the important information. I found that it was very difficult to get information about availability and fees on the phone and was only given this information when I visited the nurseries.

I really wanted to be prepared when I visited the nurseries and so put together a list of questions that I wanted to ask in advance. I had a feeling that I would find it quite emotional when I visited the nurseries, which may mean that I forget to ask something important! So having my pre-prepared list meant I felt more confident.

Below is my full list of questions, these questions come from internet searches on what to look for in a nursery, speaking with friends with children that go to nursery, asking a friend who works in nursery and thinking myself about what I think is important.

My full list of questions:

– What is the child to adult ratio?

– Do you operate a key person system (where each child has a dedicated member of staff responsible for their learning and development while at nursery)?

– What qualifications do your staff have? What proportion of staff are qualified?

– When you require extra staff so you use an agency or do you have a bank team (a pool of staff that you can use)?

– What is the staff turnover like?

– Please talk me through how you will help my child to learn and develop.

– How will you keep me updated on my child’s progress?

– How much outdoor space do you have and how often do the children go outside?

– Do you take the children on trips out of the nursery?

– Can I please see a sample food menu? Where is the food prepared?

– Where do the children sleep? How often are they checked while sleeping?

– What are your fees and what is included in the fees? Is there anything I will need to provide?

– What is your induction/settling in process?

– What are your procedures for when a child is ill?

I asked these questions at all of the nurseries I visited and the answers were useful in weighing up the choices to ultimately make a decision. However, I felt my gut instinct was the most useful determining factor. My gut instinct was formed by looking the children at the nursery and seeing how they were playing, how the staff were interacting with them and the vibe I got from speaking to the staff. These things are hard to explain but I found that I just had a feeling about whether the nursery felt ‘right’ for us.

Once I found a nursery that felt right, I took Jamain to visit the nursery to see if he had the same feeling and to give him a chance to ask any extra questions.

This process worked for us and I really hope you find it useful to help you find a nursery that’s right for you and your family.

Jamain and I discuss choosing a nursery for Theo (and many other things) in this video:

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