We started to look for nursery when Oscar was 5 months old even though he is not starting until he is 16 months. The demand for nursery places within our area is crazy and it may be the same in yours. I know some people put their baby onto waiting lists when they are not even born yet.
When we first started searching for a nursery I read all of the Ofsted reports and forums to ensure the professional opinion matched with the communities opinion. In doing this, I think I put some nurseries on pedal stools which in hindsight I should not of done. What I mean by this is that even if all of the hear say is amazing you still may not like it.
The first nursery we visited, quite honestly, the nursery was amazing in terms of the size and resources but the staff were not what I expected of an ‘outstanding’ nursery. The second, none of the staff greeted me with a hello as I walked around each room and the resources and decor looked extremely run down, and just to point out this was the most expensive nursery I had visited at £95 per day. The third, the staff were amazing and super friendly but the resources were not. Do I sound fussy? Or is everyone else like this?
I like to think that I am just ensuring that my son is going to be attending a nursery that is up to the standards we think he needs which is with lovely staff and an abundance of resources and activities for him to enjoy. I am not saying that there is such thing as a perfect nursery but I think picking a nursery is very personal to the individual. For example, heaps of parents suggested that the first nursery we visited was amazing but after visiting it I just felt it was not right for us.
If you are visiting a nursery for the first time, these are the kind of questions you may want to ask:
1. How many children are there in each room with how many adults?
2. What is the waiting list like?
3. Are there any external trips and how often do they happen?
4. Are they open all year round (some nurseries close for two weeks over crimbo)
5.Do they learn any languages?
6.Do they get to mix with the other children of different ages?
7.Do they nap and where (do they have their own bed sheets)?
8.Do you need to supply nappies and formula milk?
9. Do you have term time availability (if you have older children in school)?
10.Do you have any holiday breaks whereby you can book a certain number of weeks off where you do not need to pay whilst you go away?
Finally after visiting a number of nurseries, we have thankfully been accepted into a nursery that ticks all of our boxes. The staff seem so happy and were very welcoming to us all. The whole nursery seems to be full of colour and joy and most importantly all of the children seemed so happy! They also have a very impressive system whereby they upload pictures and details to each child’s record throughout the day so we as parents can see what they are up to. This is fantastic as I know when Milo first went to nursery, I was always calling up to check if he was ok (which he was).
If you are thinking about putting your little one into nursery so you can return to work or study. I would advise completing their settling in period before you go back. As sometimes it can be quite stressful and tearful for both you and baby. You may need to stay with them, or even come back to collect them earlier than expected.
I know that sending your little ones to nursery can be daunting but I personally think there are benefits; it is good for their social interaction and to learn that they can have fun without Mummy, Daddy and brother (In Oscar’s case).
As long as your little one is happy that is the most important thing.
Lots of Love