childcare for working parentsWhat sort of childcare is right for me?

Will this work in my situation?

How to know who to trust with my child?

The very first question when you want to work as a parent is: “who will look after my child when I am not around?” For many of us, making a decision on what type of childcare suits your individual needs and family can be difficult.


We have outlined below the most popular choices of childcare that are open to you as a working parent. To give you reassurance, most childcare settings have to be registered and regularly inspected by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted). However, childcare that is based in your home (nannies or au pairs) is not regulated in the same way.

Types of childcare

Maternity nurses

Maternity nurses look after you and your new baby from birth until about six weeks after the baby is born. They can help you get your baby into a routine and teach you how to care for a newborn. Maternity nurses offer a 24-hour service, usually for six days out of seven.

Rough price guide: Expect to pay £750+ per week (Maternity nurses are often self-employed and so are responsible for their own tax and National Insurance.)

Main advantages

  • You get help in your own home from an expert
  • Helps to get the baby into a routine, if that’s what you want – perhaps if you’re returning to work
  • Helps you catch up with lost sleep

Main considerations

  • Financially out of reach for many people
  • Early days taken out of your hands
  • Accommodation will be required
  • You are not in full control
  • Not a long-term solution


Nannies look after your children in your own home, offering individual care. You can sometimes share a nanny with another family and reduce costs. Nannies offer a complete care package as they also clean and cook for the children. They may live in or out.

Nannies may hold a childcare qualification, or have previous experience of being a nanny. They look after babies and children of all ages.

Rough price guide: Nannies are paid between £250 and £550 per week net depending on where you live and the hours you require (The net figure is what the nanny will actually receive. You will also have to pay tax and National Insurance).

Main advantages

  • Plenty of individual attention
  • In your own home – flexible hours
  • Trained or experienced worker
  • Will fit in with your patterns or additional forms of childcare, such as nursery
  • Cost-effective if you have more than one child

Main considerations

  • Costly for one baby
  • Days may not be structured
  • Not registered with Ofsted
  • Some additional household cost


Childminders look after children in their own home. They are often parents themselves, and will care for small groups of children who play and have their meals in their home. They look after children and babies of all ages.

Rough price guide: Expect to pay between £150 and £250 per week depending on where you live.

Main advantages

  • The childminder is usually a parent
  • Home environment with other children
  • Good value care
  • Can be flexible with hours
  • Registered with Ofsted
  • Safety and Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checked

Main considerations

  • You have to take the child and collect her
  • May have to provide meals or pay extra

Day nurseries

Day nurseries are daycare centres where babies and children go with others to play and learn in an age-based environment. There will be a curriculum that is followed and activities based around themes. Nurseries usually open from 8am – 6pm and take children from three months to five years.

Rough price guide: Expect to pay between £150 and £375 per week depending on where you live.

Main advantages

  • You know what your child is doing all day
  • Child-centred activities
  • Trained workers
  • Inspected by Ofsted
  • Government childcare grants can be used for three and four-year olds

Main considerations

  • May be too ‘institutional’ for babies or toddlers
  • Your child can’t go if she is ill
  • Inflexibility outside opening hours


Traditionally au-pairs are young (17-27) come from abroad and stay for 3 – 12 months in the family home.  However many people choose to be au-pairs nowadays, and you can even have a Granny as au-pair. They usually come for the language and cultural experience. They will need a room in your house, and often eat with the family too. They are only allowed a max. of 25 hours working per week plus 2 evenings of babysitting.

Main advantages

  • Flexibility of hours
  • Young age can be fun for children
  • Cost effective
  • Can be an enriching cultural experience
  • Could be a lovely family friend

Main considerations

  • May be too inexperienced for young babies or large families
  • Might bring their own (young adult) problems for you to manage
  • Work a limited number of hours, as they do need time for their own pursuits as well
  • Could feel like an invasion on your privacy

Rough Price Guide: Weekly pocket money minimum 70 to 80 pounds, depending on services given it can be more.

Important factors in your choice

There will be lots to weigh up as you make your childcare choices, but whatever choice you make, be sure that it has the following elements:

  • Carers who are loving and responsive towards your child
  • Somewhere safe and clean for your child to play
  • Experienced carers where appropriate
  • Healthy diet
  • Lots of different activities and games, which fit well with the age of your child
Also check out:

And finally….make sure you also factor in a backup plan if your childcare arrangements breakdown at the last minute.

Support in finding childcare for working parents

To help you find childcare, you can also decide to get professional support. Mum & Career have partnered with Parental Choice (South-West London) to offer you just that at a special discount. Check out how you can make finding childcare easy and have more time with your child.

Information and advice on childcare for working parents

  • Bright Horizons – Care provider, runs (employer sponsored) nurseries , offers emergency care
  • UK Government on childcare – Information on tax credits and financial support from your employer and when studying
  • British Au Pair Agencies Association – Trade Association that sets guidelines for host families
  • Families Work – childcare search, emergency childcare, maternity coaching, parent workshops and talent management. Focus on corporate and media sector.
  • – online UK search site for childcare including nannies, afterschool nannies, babysitters, au-pairs, mothers help, maternity nurses, tutors and even cleaners
  • Ofsted – Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. Provides inspection reports for nurseries, pre-schools and primary schools.
  • Parental Choice –  ‘one stop shop’  to help you make the right decision on your childcare needs and guide you through your legal rights before and after pregnancy, they offer services to: write your flexible work proposal, find your childcare and write your nanny contract
  • Good Care Guide – Users ratings of childcare in England by United for all Ages and My Family Care
  • Mumsnet on Childcare – Offer a good overview of all childcare options, and what other mums think works
  • Nannyshare – Site that helps  find a local family to share a nanny
  • Bestbear – Lists London nannies and nanny-agencies and has a vetting service
  • Nannytax – offers nannytax services, employment and payroll advice
  • Way2Paye – Payroll company for nannies, domestic help and small businesses

Author: This page was initiated by Sarah Blatchford, who heads up the Childcare Consultants at my Family Care. My Family Care provide the UK’s only comprehensive and award winning backup childcare solution packages for employers. Emergency Childcare helps individual working parents find the best care when their usual arrangements break down, or when last minute options are needed.