Nursery v Childminder: Choosing the Best Option for Your Child

Nursery v Childminder: Choosing the Best Option for Your Child

As a parent, choosing the right childcare setting for your child is one of the most important decisions you will make. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to decide between nursery and childcare. In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of both options and help you make an informed decision that is best for your family.


A nursery is a pre-school setting where children aged 0-5 years can attend for a few hours a day, a few days a week, or full-time. Nurseries are usually open from 8 am to 6 pm and offer a structured learning environment for children. For those interested in contributing to the growth and well-being of these young minds, exploring nursery assistant jobs could be a rewarding opportunity.

Pros of Nursery

  • Structured learning: Nurseries provide a structured learning environment for children that can help them develop social and emotional skills.
  • Qualified staff: Nurseries employ qualified staff members who are trained to provide children with the support and care they need.
  • Age-appropriate activities: Nurseries offer age-appropriate activities that help children learn new skills and develop their creativity.
  • Prepare for school: Attending nursery can help children prepare for school by teaching them valuable skills such as sharing, listening, and following instructions.

Cons of Nursery

  • Limited flexibility: Nurseries have set opening and closing times, which may not be suitable for parents who work long or irregular hours.
  • Expensive: Nursery fees can be expensive, and parents may need to pay for additional services such as meals and transport.
  • Waiting lists: Popular nurseries often have waiting lists, which can make it difficult for parents to secure a place for their child.
  • Illnesses: Children attending nurseries are more likely to catch illnesses, such as colds and flu, due to the close proximity of other children.


Childminders offer personalised care in their own homes usually with a limited group of other children. Hours are often more flexible than a nursery setting too, and for nervous kids it might be the best option to help them feel confident when you aren’t around.

Pros of childminders:

  1. Personalised care: Childminders typically look after a smaller number of children, which means they can offer more personalised care. This can be particularly beneficial for younger children who may need more one-on-one attention.
  2. Flexible hours: Childminders often offer more flexible hours than nurseries or after-school clubs. This can be helpful for parents who work long or irregular hours.
  3. Home-like environment: Childminders often provide care in their own homes, which can make it feel more like a home environment for children. This can help children feel more comfortable and at ease.
  4. Continuity of care: Children can develop a strong bond with their childminder, which can lead to a greater sense of continuity of care. This can be especially important for young children who may find it difficult to adjust to new environments and people.

Cons of childminders:

  1. Limited social interaction: Childminders may not offer as much opportunity for social interaction as nurseries, as there are fewer children to interact with.
  2. Fewer resources: Childminders may have fewer resources and facilities than nurseries or after-school clubs, which could limit the activities available to children.
  3. Reliance on one provider: If a childminder is unavailable, parents may struggle to find alternative care. This could be problematic for parents who have inflexible work schedules.
  4. Potential for inconsistency: As childminders are self-employed, there may be less consistency in terms of the care and activities provided, as they may have different approaches to childcare.

Other Childcare – other options (like family, friends etc)

Childcare refers to any care provided for children while their parents are at work or otherwise occupied. Childcare can be provided in the child’s home, a relative’s home, or a childcare setting such as a nursery.

Pros of Childcare

  • Flexibility: Childcare providers may offer more flexible hours than nurseries, which can be helpful for parents who work long or irregular hours.
  • Personalized care: Childcare providers can offer more personalized care, as there are usually fewer children in the setting.
  • Cost-effective: Childcare can be more cost-effective than nurseries, especially if parents choose to use a relative or friend to provide care.
  • Reduced exposure to illnesses: Children attending childcare settings with fewer children are less likely to catch illnesses.

Cons of Childcare

  • Lack of structure: Childcare settings may not offer the same level of structured learning as nurseries, which can impact a child’s development.
  • Less qualified staff: Childcare providers may not be as qualified as nursery staff, which can be a concern for some parents.
  • Limited social interaction: Children attending childcare settings with fewer children may have limited social interaction, which can affect their social and emotional development.
  • Safety concerns: Childcare settings may not be as safe as nurseries, as there are fewer regulations governing these settings.

Cost Comparison

The cost of childcare can vary greatly depending on the provider and the location. In general, nursery fees are more expensive than childcare fees. According to the website, the average hourly rate for a nursery in the UK is £6.60, while the average hourly rate for a childminder is £5.50.

Childcare Vouchers

Childcare vouchers are a government initiative that helps working parents pay for childcare. Employers can offer childcare vouchers to employees as part of their salary package, which can be used to pay for childcare services. Childcare vouchers are tax-free and can be used to pay for a range of childcare services,

including nurseries, childminders, after-school clubs, and holiday clubs. The maximum amount that can be claimed through childcare vouchers is £243 per month, per parent.

What do MOLOs say?

To get a better understanding of the pros and cons of nursery and childcare settings, we asked our community for their experiences and they said:

Jenny, a working mother of two, says, “I started sending my eldest to nursery when she was two years old, and it was a great experience for her. She learned so much and made lots of friends. However, when my second child was born, I decided to try a childminder instead. It’s been great because the childminder is more flexible and it feels more personal. Plus, it’s cheaper than the nursery fees.”

Toni, who has three kids had a different perspective. “We tried childcare with a relative for a while, but it just wasn’t working out. We ended up switching to a nursery, and it’s been great for our kids. They love it there and have learned so much. Yes, it’s more expensive, but we feel like it’s worth it for the quality of care they receive.”

What do the experts think?

We also spoke to experts in the childcare industry to get their opinions on the benefits of nursery and childcare settings.

Lucy Emmerson, Director of the Education Forum, says, “Nurseries are fantastic places for young children to learn and grow. They offer a structured environment with qualified staff members who are trained to support children’s development. Children attending nurseries are also exposed to a diverse range of experiences and people, which can help them become more confident and independent.”

Rachel Adamson, Head of Policy and Campaigns at the National Day Nurseries Association, agrees, “Nurseries provide a rich learning environment for children. They offer a range of activities and experiences that help children develop their social, emotional, and cognitive skills. Nurseries also provide a safe and secure environment for children, with policies and procedures in place to ensure their welfare.”

However, Dr. Jacqueline Harding, Child Development Expert and author of The Nursery Year in Action, believes that childcare settings can also offer benefits. “Childcare providers can offer a more personalized approach to care, which can be particularly beneficial for young children who need one-on-one attention. Childcare providers can also offer a more flexible approach to care, which can be helpful for parents who work long or irregular hours.”

Do your research

Choosing the right childcare setting for your child can be a difficult decision, but by weighing up the pros and cons of nursery and childcare, you can make an informed decision that is best for your family. While nurseries offer structured learning environments with qualified staff members, childcare providers can offer more flexibility and personalised care. Ultimately, the decision will depend on your individual needs and preferences, as well as your budget. By considering all options and researching different providers, you can find the right childcare setting for your child and give them the best possible start in life.

Kate Dyson

Kate is the Founder of The Motherload, the 'owner' of one husband, two daughters, two cats and one rabbit. She loves wine, loathes exercise and fervently believes in the power of women supporting women. Find me on instagram: @themotherloadhq

No comments yet. Be the first one to leave a thought.
Leave a comment

Leave a Comment