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What service to use from birth to school?

Updated: Apr 5, 2020

This article outlines your options when it comes to choosing your preferred form of childcare and highlights a few things to consider when making your choice.

Within the UK there are a number of childcare options. Here we discuss the different options to choose from.

Maternity Nurse (from birth): 

She is an OCN accredited professional and has a strong experience with newborns. She provides care to the newborns overnight or through the day.

Mother’s help (from 6 months old depending on her experience) :

Mother's Help is experienced with nannying and works alongside the mother, caring for the children. A Mother's Help may also do light duties such as the family shopping, or loading and unloading the family washing.

Nanny ( from 6 months old depending on her experience) : 

A nanny is a person who is employed to care for a child in their own home. There are different types of nannies including:

- Daily / live out nanny who comes to the family home every day;

- Live-in nanny who lives with the family, usually in a flat or guest room;

- After-school Nanny who picks up your child/ren from school, it is usually a part-time contract.

Nanny share - a nanny whose time is shared and paid by 2 families and looks after the children in different houses in agreement with the 2 families.

The nanny is employed by one or more families to care for their child/ren; Nanny will expect holiday pay and other benefits as part of their contract.

Check if: 

- she has a Paediatric First Aid qualification ( UpToDate within the last 3 years) 

- she is Ofsted registered.  If a nanny is registered with Ofsted parents can claim Tax Credits (if eligible)

- her DBS is UpToDate 

- She is insured

 Moreover she should be able to provide references to show who they have worked with and have experience with caring for young children and babies. 

The nanny may offer extra services such as light housework and babysitting duties as well as providing day care; she should provide information about the types of activities children will do whilst with them. Nannies are excellent helpers, often with a wealth of experience, but they do not usually have the medical knowledge or experience of a maternity nurse.

What about the payroll? 

Using a company to help you in your nanny tax is very helpful and they help you in term of law/right and contract. 

You can find many nanny tax agency via internet. 

Au pairs : ( recommended for Baby from 18 months and +)

They are young people ( +18 to +/- 22yo) from outside the UK who live with you, as part of your family. They earn pocket money from looking after your child during the day as needed, doing light housework, and babysitting in the evening. 

An au pair doesn’t need any formal qualifications in childcare. Your au pair should work between 25 hours and 35 hours a week, spread over five days. 


A childminder is a self employed small business person who works from their own home with children from various different families. She must be registered with Ofsted in England, CSSIW in Wales and the Care Inspectorate in Scotland; To register with Ofsted as a childminder they must be over 18 years of age and care for children in their own home for more than 2 hours a day for reward or payment.

She sets their own fees and terms and conditions; She writes their own documentation, including policies and procedures;

Childminder must have minimum qualifications including an Introduction to Childminding course certificate to care for children within the EYFS (Early Years Register). Check if: 

- she has a Paediatric First Aid qualification ( UpToDate within the last 3 years) 

- she is Ofsted registered.  If a nanny is registered with Ofsted parents can claim Tax Credits (if eligible)

- her DBS is UpToDate 

- She is insured


Crèches will provide ‘occasional care’ for children and are provided on particular premises. You can use them on an irregular basis i.e. when you go to the gym. You have to book your slot of 2 or 3 hours. Most of the time the policy askes you to stay near the building. 


The term "nursery" is often used to cover a wide range of group settings for early years childcare. There are differences between settings, in terms of the services they provide, but all nursery settings offer professional, registered childcare for children under 5.

Nursery schools, maintained nurseries and pre-schools tend to cater for children aged between 3 and 5, offering early education in the couple of years before they begin "big school". Many of these settings are purpose-built and are sometimes part of the larger school building.

Day nurseries tend to provide childcare for children from the ages of six weeks to 5 years. Opening hours vary but an average day nursery is likely to open between 7am and 8am to accommodate working parents and close between 6pm and 7pm. This means that nursery staff will often work shifts.

Childcare vouchers: In October 2018, childcare vouchers have been replaced by a new tax-free childcare scheme. You can find details and information on how to apply on the Government Childcare Choices website. 

All 3 and 4 year old in England are entitled to 15 hours free childcare a week in term time – this is 570 hours a year.

To sum up, you can benefit from a wide range of childcare solutions in London. Some are expensive others are more affordable. The most important point is that anyone who touches your baby needs to have at least a DBS check, a valid paediatric first aid, some experience in childcare and references available in the UK.

Mathilde Allemand, Maternity nurse and French Pediatric Nurse. 

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