Other people

Young children need security and routine in their lives but you don’t have to be the only one who cares for them.

You may need to go out to work or you may feel that having time apart will help them learn new skills and also encourage their growing sense of independence.

What do you need?

Finding childcare can be difficult and stressful as there are so many different types and some are very costly.

They range from childminders, nurseries and nannies to friends and family. Around a quarter of two-year-olds are entitled to 600 hours of free early learning and childcare which is organised by the local authority.

All three- and four-year-olds are entitled to 600 hours of free early learning and childcare. To find out more information about your childcare options, or to find out if you are eligible for a funded two-year-old place, visit Parent Club.

What to look out for

When you hand over the care of your child to someone else it’s important that emotional as well as physical needs are looked after and that your carer is in tune with your views on issues like behavior, sweets and TV. Before making your choice, take time to discuss these areas in detail to avoid clashes later on.

Toddlers get confused if there is a very big difference in the way they are looked after at home and elsewhere, which is why it’s so important to agree some ground rules with your child’s carers. Naturally, there will be minor differences in the way things are done.

Safety first

Between the ages of 1 and 3 your tot is an active little explorer, so a major consideration when choosing a carer or a care setting is safety.

Registered settings like childminders and nurseries will be well aware of safety issues. But if your child is going to be cared for by a relative or someone who has not had children of their own, their home may not be child-friendly and you’ll need to work with them to make sure that it is quite safe.

Your child’s needs

Because your toddler is developing on so many different fronts, you’ll want to look for a carer who can provide them with the right kind of play opportunities and can cater for your child’s needs as they change.

Give it time

In the first few days you might find that they cry and cling to you when you leave. They might be stand-offish when you return and revert to babyish behaviour for a time. This is your child showing how they feel about being separated from you.

Be patient and show that you understand their feelings.

Childcare checklist

Probably the simplest and cheapest childcare option is to arrange for a neighbour or someone in the family to look after your tot. Many people spread the childcare around: so your tot could be looked after by several different people during the week.

Sharing the childcare around other mothers in the neighbourhood can help pre-school children become confident in different surroundings. It can also help you get some much needed free time to do something other than look after your little one.

Useful questions to ask carers

For individual carers

  • How many children do you look after and how much individual attention can you give my child?
  • How long have you worked with children?
  • What are your training qualifications?
  • What will my tot’s daily routine be?
  • What food and drink do you provide?
  • Can I see where my little one will sleep during the day?
  • What will you provide to help mental and physical development?
  • Do you go out to play clubs or the park?
  • How will you let me know how my child is getting on?
  • How would you handle food refusal and potty training?
  • How do you handle difficult behaviour?
  • Are you trained in first aid and what would you do in an emergency?
  • Do you have any friends who are likely to visit during the day? (If so, you’ll need to meet them too.)

For group facilities

  • Can I look around and see where my child will be?
  • How many kids come here, and how much individual attention will my child get?
  • Do you organise regular outings?
  • Where is the outside play area?
  • Can you offer flexible hours and/or a part-time place?
  • When was your last inspection from the Care Inspectorate and what were the results?

Getting to know you

Some children cheerfully cope with being away from their parents but others are much more clingy.
Careful preparation pays off, so try these tips.

  • Don’t spring a new care arrangement on them. Talk about it beforehand.
  • Visit your chosen care option with your toddler several times before the first day or, if your caregiver will be looking after your tot at your home, get them to work with you for a day or two.
  • Find ways to show your little one that you like and trust the new caregiver.
  • Give them a hug and kiss before you go. Don’t try and Childcare checklist slip away without saying anything, otherwise your child may panic and get upset.
  • Say a clear ‘bye-bye’ and tell them when you’ll see them again, like ‘after lunch’ or ‘when you’ve been to the park’.
  • Don’t be late collecting your child.
  • Allow time for settling in. But if your child is still very upset after several weeks, talk it over with members of staff and/or your GP or health visitor.

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Last updated: 15 April 2019