What to ask when choosing a nursery?

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  • What to ask when choosing a nursery?
  • You need clarity on the “No Pudding” policy.


    For me it was like buying a house – as soon you walk in and look round you know if its right or not.

    Obviously the one that felt right was the most expensive 🙄

    Beat me Perchy.

    Spend an hour or two there and you’ll get a feel for it. Ratios and facilities are far less important than the actual staff and what they do with what they have.

    Premier Icon jam bo

    How many apprentices are they using to make up the numbers?

    Beat me Perchy.

    That’s extra. You’ll need to call me “Mistress” 😉


    Check that they accept any childcare vouchers that you can save through your employer

    Check what happens if you are late- do penalties apply

    Check what their policy is on ill children and how long must they be symptom free before they can return

    Check what food/menu there is, see if you are happy with it

    Check if you get any free periods where you don’t pay (holidays etc)

    Check if you get discounts if you have more children in the future.

    Premier Icon ransos

    As above, but some practicalities such as opening hours and how they suit your working arrangements, plus childcare vouchers etc.

    The Chariot is a good shout. My two always went to nursery by trailer and it saved a huge amount of stress knowing I wouldn’t get stuck in traffic on the way to pick them up. I used to leave the trailer at nursery under a cover, so maybe check if they have room for you to do that.

    Premier Icon simon_g

    Ours goes to two different ones (not enough hours available at one) and we looked at plenty.

    Food – if it’s any good they should show you their meal plan/rota. If you need vegetarian or other special diet stuff, check out what they offer to meet that.

    Hours, and any flexibility around them. Some let you pre-book early start or late pickup if you know you’ll need it. Some fine you if you’re a minute late.

    Nappies/wipes – some ask you to supply, some include. Can be positive or not depending on how fussy you are about these things.

    Holidays – some nurseries allow a few weeks of “holiday time” each year where you don’t have to pay as long as it’s arranged in advance. Others may require you to pay in full.

    Buggy/trailer storage – that there’s enough of it (if it’s too tight they tend to get damaged) and secure enough.

    But yes, just gut feel is important.


    Also how many days a year do they close.

    Do they have a pool? Is this guy the security guard?

    Can they keep hold of them over the weekend?

    Premier Icon Sundayjumper

    Read their noticeboard thoroughly.

    We pointed it out to them 🙄


    It’s a loooong time ago but as I recall our key questions were along the lines: “Will you take her? Please??? We’re begging – please will you take her?”



    As above, you will know if it feels right as soon as you go in. When we went to look around our local nursery one of the staff took our daughter off us for a walk around/to play whilst we spent 20 minutes chatting to the manager. She came back smiling and happy which was a great first sign.

    Ask about bank holidays, are they open or closed and do you have to pay when they are shut? Ours are closed bank holidays but we still have to pay. Not too much of a problem if you also get BH off but if you are in retail or a job where you have to work them they you will need to think about additional cover/paying twice for childcare

    Premier Icon momo

    My MiL was a nursery nurse until she retired last year, we’ve recently been looking around for a nursery for LittleMissMomo and were told to ask a lot of the above and also specifically to ask about staff retention/turnover rate.

    Premier Icon Jon Taylor

    We’re looking at nurseries for the little one and I’m going to see one this afternoon.

    She’ll be about a year old when she starts. All the places we’re looking at can be dropped off and picked up by either of us in the car or me on bike (Chariot)

    The three near us are quite different in terms of outdoor space, group sizes, newness of facilities etc.

    What sort of things are easily overlooked but surprisingly important?

    What do you wish you’d asked?


    Premier Icon ampthill

    Just in case this helps.

    My wife was being shown round a Nursery by some one senior. She said we do a theme every week. This week its “The Sea Side”. She could see my wife looking a bit flat at that. So she said “Themes might not seem important to your one year old but he’ll get older. In the mean time it’s also excellent for keeping the staff motivated and interested”

    In the nicest possible way your buying an education not care

    NB when I say an education I don’t mean SATS and spelling. I learning to play, talk, interact, make and imagine


    Expecting the kids to sleep half the time they were was an issue in the distant past we had kids in nursery.

    Premier Icon Kryton57

    Ask other parents thier prior experierience, and read the last 3 Ofsted reports. Ask for thier medical awareness. I had three issues

    A) one nursery we went to we were encouraged to leave junior in the indoor play area while we waited. And whilst we waited with 8 other children for 20 mins, not one single member of staff appeared with the kids. Once they did, we walked out with jnr and never went back.

    B) At our current Nursery i went to pick up my Hypoglecemic daughter not long ago. She was shiverimg sleepy and rolling her eyes in the corner on a bean bag. “She must be tired, she hasnt eaten much” they said, after which i applied the emergency regimen using the SOS powders stored in thier emergency rack which we brief them on every 3 months.

    C) a prior offsted report showed the Inspector had been let in, not greeted and wandered aroumd the nursery for 20 minutes unchallenged.

    Needless to say, if she wasnt leaving in 2 months i’d be gone already, but only a prior parent will tell you these things.


    Consider any religious associations of the nursery (yes really – we glossed over a line in the prospectus saying they followed a Christian ethos – that actually meant a minister came in once a week, the Christmas service was the most religious brainwashing factually incorrect nonsense I’ve heard and the final graduation ceremony had a big “god” element too. Child2 went to a different nursery with a massive outdoor focus – a poly tunnel, it’s own woods etc. Whilst child1 has recovered I am certain we made the right decision for child2!

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