How to choose a childminder

Dads are increasingly taking the lead in researching and childcare options once parental leave comes to an end. If a childminder seems like a good option, how do you narrow down the options and find a good one?

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Many parents feel that the home environment of a childminder is the right choice for their baby or toddler. Some of the advantages include a smaller adult/child ratio where a close bond can grow between minder and mindee. So, if you have made the decision then read on to find out how to choose a childminder that is right for you and your child.

Many childminders are flexible in their hours and some offer evening and weekend care. Some dads like the fact that a child in the care of a childminder has a lot of variety in their day – going out for walks, visiting the shops, playing in the garden, cooking and more.

Some childminders do the school run for older children too, making it a good option if you have children of different ages.

What are the rules for childminders?

Registered childminders are inspected by Ofsted. They look after children in their own home, with a limit of six children under eight, with only three of these under five and only one under 12 months.

There are many legal requirements for childminders, as detailed on the government website. Examples include having a first aid qualification, having a written child protection policy, a DBS enhanced check, risk assessments and access to outside space. They also need to have personal liability insurance.

Some childminders offer food as part of their service while others will request that you provide a packed lunch. If they prepare meals they have to ensure that they comply with certain food hygiene practices

How to choose a childminder in your area

You can find local childminders by contacting your local authority or by searching on childcare.co.uk. You can also view their Ofsted reports to get a sense of quality and their approach to care.

It is also well worth seeking out local recommendations, either through social media or by chatting to friends or other parents at baby groups.

Questions to ask a Childminder

Once you have narrowed down your childminder options, you will probably want to ask them a few questions to help you make a decision. It’s worth drawing up a list of questions in advance. Some important things to consider might include:

  • Fees and what they include
    Do you need to pay extra for meals? Will you need to provide nappies, wipes and creams or are these included?
  • Free childcare at 3+
    From three years of age, your child is entitled to 15 hours’ free childcare. Find out whether the childminder participates in this scheme, as not all do. If not, will they potentially drop and collect your child at a local pre-school provision?
  • Other children
    It is good to understand how many other children are cared for by the childminder and what their ages are. Does the childminder also look after their own children? How do they ensure everyone is treated fairly?
  • Daily routines.
    Find out what a typical day looks like. Is some of the day taken up by school pick up and drop off? Is this on foot or by car? Does the childminder take the children to toddler groups? How much outside time is on offer?
  • Behaviour policy
    There are many different parenting and childminding styles. Ask what the childminder considers to be bad behaviour and how they would manage it. Discuss your own parenting style and behaviour management to understand how they differ or align.
  • Emphasis on learning
    Different childminders can have varying levels of structure in how they help their mindees learn. Some will more formally focus on counting, hand-eye co-ordination, balance and other developmental priorities while others are more play-focused and let children learn in a more natural way.
  • Potty training
    A childminder can often take a big role in moving children out of nappies. It can be helpful to understand their approach to this and how to keep things consistent with home.
  • Naps
    Find out where your child would nap and how the timing might fit in with a typical day.

Making your final decision about a childminder is generally a blend of practical considerations and gut instinct. You need to find someone that you trust with your child, that you have a good rapport with and that will fit with your daily routine.

If the decision is a difficult one, consider running a trial session and see how your child gets on.

For more insights into childcare, see our Fatherhood section.



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