How to Pick a Great Nursery for your Child

As a parent it’s one of the toughest decisions we make. How do you pick a great nursery for your child? These are people we’re trusting to look after our kids several hours a day, from a very young age. Most towns will have several nurseries to choose from, and so it’s probably best to visit a few before deciding. But what should you be basing your decision on? As with everything, there’s probably not one single factor which will help you make that decision. But here are some of the key things to consider.

The Building

There’s a lot to be said for first impressions. When you first walk through the door into the nursery, it should feel warm and welcoming. Good nurseries will have displays of children’s artwork on the walls. Furniture should be child-sized and appropriate, and you should be able to take a look at the outside play space too. Use all of your senses; do the children sound happy? Is there a pleasant smell? Ask the staff to show the separate areas used for play, eating or taking a nap.


The Staff

We have this strange notion in the UK that it’s in some way rude to ask people about their qualifications. But when you’re trying to choose a nursery for your child, these are things you should be asking about. Is there a qualified teacher on site? Ask also about ratios – this is the number of children per member of staff and varies according to the age of the children. Most nurseries also operate a keyworker scheme, with a named member of staff having overall responsibility for a particular child. Ask about whether all staff have to apply for a DBS check. This is a legal requirement, and all nursery staff, including cooks or cleaners, should have enhanced disclosures. Ask whether any have first aid training and what the policy is for ongoing development of staff knowledge.


It would be foolish to use price as the only factor in making a decision about a nursery, but it should definitely be taken into consideration. If your child is of an age where they qualify for free hours, make sure they can use these at the nursery you are considering. Ask about both the fees overall and how these are charged. Are you expected to pay for bank holidays, for example? Remember that the average cost of having a child under the age of 2 in nursery full tine is around £230 per week – it’s not cheap.

Reviews and Recommendations

Don’t be afraid to ask other parents picking up or dropping off their children about their experiences with the nursery. Search online for reviews and feedback too, but remember that people are more likely to share negative experiences than positive ones. Ask friends who live locally, or use local social media sites to ask for recommendations.

Finally, remember to ask whether the nursery actually has spaces for your child’s age group on the days you require. There’s no point wasting time vetting nurseries which are full, with a lengthy waiting list.