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Choosing childcare: a checklist

Choosing a carer for your child can involve difficult decisions. Use our checklist to help find the right care for your child.

Young child with blue hood

How to choose a child carer

Visit at least three child carers at work before choosing one. Get a feel for the staff and decide whether you would be comfortable with them looking after your child.

The carers should talk to the children in a way that both interests and encourages them. And of course, the children should look happy.

Check the environment the children will be in. Every child is different so think about what yours will enjoy. In all cases, the environment should:

  • be clean and big enough to cater for the child's needs. This includes room to play both inside and outside as well as a room to rest.
  • be free of safety hazards. The environment should be child-proofed and the furniture of a high enough standard.
  • include plenty of varied toys and activities for children
  • be secure so that strangers can't get in and the children can't get out.

Qualifications and registers

Ask what experience and qualifications the carers have and check that your childminder is registered.

Carers must register with different organisations depending on the age of the children they look after:

  • Carers for children under five must be registered with the Early Years Register.
  • Carers for children aged five to seven must be registered with Ofsted and will be on the Childcare Register.
  • Carers for children over seven-years-old are not obliged to register with the Childcare Register but can do so if they wish.

Questions to ask

  • What is the carer’s view on discipline?
  • Does the carer provide food? If so, what is on offer?
  • What is the safety procedure in case of an emergency?
  • What happens if a child gets ill?
  • What activities are on offer?

Finding care that suits your lifestyle

There are many different types of child care on offer, depending on your child’s age and needs. You need to consider your work hours, budget and whether you want care in your own home or with other children.