Return to Work | Nursery Selection

Return to Work | Nursery Selection

This post is the second in my Return to Work series which focuses on the transition to becoming a full time working mummy. You can read the first part of the series, which focused on return to work anxiety here.

I was behind the curve on nursery selection. My understanding is that if you live in London {or another area with high demand} then you need to really have your nursery place nailed down before your little one arrives. I know, it is crazy to think that you need to select a nursery before you have even met your child! Good friends of ours really struggled to find somewhere for their little boy despite looking before he was born! I will leave it up to you about when you start looking for a nursery.

Due to the end of my maternity leave, we knew Bump needed to be in nursery by around nine and a half to ten months old. We, however, didn’t start looking for a nursery until he was six months. In our area, Berkshire, waiting that late was fine but it might not be in your area so do gauge what your NCT friends and other mummies are doing. If you don’t know any other mummies in your area, or don’t feel confident asking them, then Instagram is a great source. You can easily find local mummies who will be willing to help out a fellow local muma.


What to look for?

As many of you know, I am a teacher. So you would think it would be easy for me to select a nursery. Well I hate to break it to you but it was really hard. If I am honest, despite being around children all day long, I didn’t know what I should be looking for in a nursery. I mean I had never looked for a nursery and neither had any of my sister-in-laws or my mum, so I didn’t have them to turn to for advice. I was also struggling with the idea of sending Bump off to nursery. Perhaps stupidly, I kept thinking the longer I put off selecting the nursery the longer he would stay at home with me! I know, I know, a mummy brain is an odd thing!

Once I came to the realisation that we needed Bump to go to nursery, what did I look for? Well, I looked for lots of things in a nursery but have broken it down into my top tips below.

  1. Most importantly, do they have a space for your child? I know it sounds bloody obvious but is amazing how many people fall in love with a nursery to find out they have no spaces! So my first question on ringing up to enquire was “do you have a space”;
  2. Can you see the latest OFSTED report? As a teacher, I was very keen to read the latest OFSTED report and would recommend you do the same;
  3. How many children do you have in your baby class and what is the maximum number you will take? I wanted to make sure that Bump would get good care whilst at nursery rather than being one of millions and forgotten;
  4. Do you have to provide food? If you don’t have to provide food then ask some questions about the food they provide. I didn’t think this was too big of an issue until after Bump had a settling in session at nursery and I found out they had given him chips and pudding! He had never had either of those things before and I was quite shocked they provided him with “unhealthy” food;
  5. Do you provide formula/nappies etc. for babies?
  6. Where do the babies sleep each day? I wanted to make sure that the babies slept in a nice quiet area away from all the noise;
  7. Is there an outdoor play area and can children pick and chose where they play? I felt this was important from a fresh air perspective; and
  8.  Do they accept childcare vouchers? Hugely important point to us {and I appreciate the system is changing in a couple of months} but this was a top question for us and, in fact, put us off another nursery.


Admin questions to ask

I appreciate some of the points I mentioned above are admin type points but I thought it would be useful to have a separate admin type questions section.

  1. If you need to leave the nursery, what is the notice period? This is important in case your child doesn’t settle at the nursery and you want to move nursery;
  2. Do you pay fees in advance or in arrears? We were surprised to receive Bump’s first invoice four weeks before he started at nursery for payment before he had even started! So check this point as it will help from a cashflow perspective;
  3. What is the security for the building? Check this, make sure that there is good security;
  4. What qualifications do the staff have and what is the baby to staff ratio;
  5. Do you have an online system where you can keep track of your child’s key milestones and daily activity records; and
  6. Does your child get a key career.



Nursery selection is really difficult. Whilst I asked a lot of the questions I have listed, I also went on my gut feel. One of the nursery’s I visited just didn’t feel right. I wasn’t sure what it was but I knew it wasn’t for me or Bump. I ended up selecting the nursery I didn’t think I would like because when I walked in it felt right. They seemed to have all the basis covered in terms of what I was looking for. The thing with nursery selection is that it is a huge decision but there is no exact formula for selection. It all comes down to person preference.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on nursery selection. Do any of you have any tips that you would like to pass on? Do you disagree with my points? Selecting a nursery is stressful but, with a bit of preparation before visits and a list of sensible questions to ask, you will find the right nursery for you and your child. I will come back later in the year to let you know how Bump has settled at nursery. In the meantime don’t forget to subscribe to my mailing list for the chance to receive Birth of a Mummy directly into your inbox.

Penny x


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