Chapter 1
Written by Rachel, founder of Koru Kids and mum of 3, our childcare guide covers everything you need to know to find the right childcare for your family.
Rachel CarrellJun 2024
Chapter 2
Read our complete childcare guide to help you find the right childcare to suit your family.
Rachel CarrellJun 2024
Chapter 3
Not sure where to start with nurseries, nannies or au pairs? Read our comprehensive childcare guide to help you find the right childcare for your little one.
Rachel CarrellJun 2024
Chapter 4
Read our comprehensive guide to the after school or wraparound childcare choices there are in the UK, so you can find the right childcare for your family.
Rachel CarrellJun 2024
Chapter 5
School holidays bring freedom and fun for children, but for working parents, it can be a logistical challenge. Eight weeks in one go when you only get 28 days…
Rachel CarrellJun 2024
Chapter 6
Why do families choose to use childcare agencies instead of going direct? Read our guide to find out, and make an informed decision about your childcare.
Rachel CarrellJun 2024
Chapter 7
If you’re new to the UK and struggling with UK childcare terminology, we get it. That’s why we’ve created this handy cheat-sheet.
Rachel CarrellJun 2024
Chapter 8
The cost of childcare in the UK can vary significantly depending on type of childcare, location, hours required, and age of your child.
Rachel CarrellJun 2024
Chapter 9
There is Government support to help you cover your childcare costs – for a full breakdown of what they are and how to access them read our guide today.
Rachel CarrellJun 2024
Chapter 10
Part of our comprehensive childcare guide, we break down everything to do with the EYFS, from the research its based on to how it’s kept up to date with modern life.
Rachel CarrellJun 2024
Chapter 11
The EYFS isn’t just for childcare providers; there’s plenty for parents to know too. Read our handy guide to what you need to know about the EYFS.
Rachel CarrellJun 2024
Chapter 12
In our childcare guide we’ve shared some of the best questions to ask nurseries or childminders to get the answers you need to make informed decisions about your childcare
Rachel CarrellJun 2024
Chapter 13
Including what to ask for and what questions to ask to get the answers you need to hear to move forward with a nanny.
Rachel CarrellJun 2024
Chapter 14
Read our guide to know what you should consider when choosing childcare that’s right for your family – it’s not about what’s right or wrong, just what’s right for you!
Rachel CarrellJun 2024
Chapter 3
Childcare for 0-5s
See all chapters

Figuring out the best childcare choice for your little one can feel overwhelming – but it doesn’t need to be.

We’ve broken down the childcare options for 0-5s in the UK. Scroll down to see the pros and cons of each, and which families I think suit each option.

Or for a quick summary, check out the handy table below to compare the three most popular options for babies and toddlers: nanny vs nursery vs childminder.

Childcare for 0-5s - Nanny vs nursery vs childminder comparison table

Want to skip ahead? Jump to the childcare option you want to learn more about below


What is a nursery? 

Nurseries are a very popular childcare choice – so popular that for many parents they’re the ‘default’, and they don’t even consider any other options.

For those coming from other countries: nurseries are the equivalent of ‘kindergarten’ or ‘pre-school’.  Don’t be confused (as I was initially) that the word is also used to describe a place for baby trees! If you’re new to the UK, we’ve got a cheat-sheet for expats UK childcare names.

A nursery will typically care for children from 3 months to 5 years old, although some will take babies from as young as 6 weeks. They’re run by owners and nursery managers with trained staff who have formal childcare qualifications. 

Most nurseries have a large number of children per room, but they’ll be slightly different for the age groups. Some nurseries limit their spaces: infants and toddlers (ages 0-2) have around 10 to 15 children per room, with a ratio of at least 1 caregiver for every 3. preschoolers (ages 3-4) may have a slightly larger setting size, typically accommodating 15 to 20 children per room, with a similar ratio of caregivers to children.

Nurseries follow the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) framework. These are the standards that all state schools, nurseries and childminders must meet for the learning, development and care of children from birth to age 5. It covers literacy, numeracy, and physical, social and emotional development. While offering less individual time with each child than other options, nurseries offer lots of socialisation with children of a similar age and plenty of sensory stimulation. Parents often particularly value this as the children get older, towards school age.

Nurseries can be used full-time or part-time, and allow families to use government payment schemes including Tax-Free Childcare or Funded Hours for Working Parents. The average annual cost of a part-time nursery place (25 hours per week) has risen by ~£500 since 2022. Read more about the average costs of a nursery here

A nursery is great for: families with one child looking for a relatively affordable childcare option

Rachel’s personal view: “Nurseries are the best known option for childcare, and the one many parents will default to. There are a lot of great nurseries out there, with fantastic experienced childcarers doing great work often under difficult circumstances.” 


What is a professional full-day nanny? 

A professional full-day nanny can look after your children in your home from birth until they start school. If you have more than one child, they can look after the younger child full time while also doing ‘wraparound’ care for any school-aged children, i.e. pickups and drop offs that wrap around the school day. 

Professional nannies are highly qualified and experienced, often coming from specialist early years childcare backgrounds including nannying, nurseries, childminders, teaching or other childcare roles. While nannies aren’t required to deliver the national early years foundation stage (EYFS) curriculum as nurseries and childminders are, it’s fairly easy to find nannies who are highly trained in it and parents can then be assured their children are getting the same school preparation as those in nurseries.

Many families have just one nanny for years. This means children can develop a deep attachment to their nanny, which is highly beneficial for early years development. 

Nannies usually do a full-day of work spanning 8-10 hours a day. The role can be structured as full time (4-5 days a week) or part time (1-3 days a week). 

The biggest benefit of a full-day nanny is the tailoring of care to the needs of the family and children. Each day can be entirely centred around the children, whether that’s a quiet sick day inside or a day exploring a special interest. Unlike nurseries and childminders, care continues even if the baby or child is sick. Parents who work unusual or long hours can find nannies particularly beneficial as they’re not tied to a childcare setting’s opening hours. 

Nannies are paid per hour rather than per child. For families with more than one child, this can mean a significant cost saving compared to other settings like nurseries or childminders. This is particularly valuable for families who have multiples or siblings with close age gaps. 

Beyond their regular working hours, full-day nannies are frequently available for additional babysitting upon request. In some cases, families may even negotiate a regular babysitting night. This allows families to tailor the arrangement to their specific needs and ensures comprehensive care for the children. 

A full-day nanny is great for: families who want tailored childcare, and can afford to pay up for it – or who have more than one child so the cost is comparable to nursery

Rachel’s personal view: “As soon as I had my second child we transitioned from childminder to nanny, and our nanny has brought calm and order to our life ever since. One little known but very significant advantage of a nanny is that they look after ill kids. This seems like a detail before you have kids – but as parents quickly learn, young kids are ill all the time! I feel grateful every day that one of my kids is sick and I get to carry on as usual.” 

What is a nanny share? 

Nanny share is a childcare arrangement where, instead of employing an individual nanny, children from two local families are jointly cared for by a single nanny in one of the family’s homes. This could be as a full-day nanny looking after babies or toddlers all day, or it could be as an after-school nanny doing wraparound care for school-aged children. 

This arrangement allows roughly a 30% saving for families compared to the usual cost of a nanny, and allows the nanny to receive higher pay. 

With nanny share, a child can get all the benefits of a personal, intimate relationship with a single carer as well as other kids of similar age. This promotes better self-development and growth plus all of the social benefits of spending time close together with another child. 

Read our handy cheat-sheet for more information about how to get a nanny share started, or use our free nanny share tool to find a family to share a nanny with. 

A nanny share is great for: families who want a more affordable way to get the benefits of a nanny

Rachel’s personal view: “Nanny shares really can offer the best of all worlds, so long as you have a great ‘other family’ to share with. They offer the flexibility and resilience of a nanny but at a more affordable price. Plus I’ve heard from tons of families that their children have sibling-like bonds they wouldn’t trade for the world. Definitely worth asking around your local friends, to see if any would like to share.” 

What is a night nanny? 

A night nanny is a professional caregiver who specialises in providing overnight care for your baby in the parents’ home. The main focus for a night nanny is to help new parents during the night, allowing them to get much-needed rest while ensuring the baby’s needs are met. 

A night nanny typically arrives in the evening, around 9 pm, and stays until the morning, around 7 am. These hours can be flexible, depending on the arrangement with the parents. Families may hire night nannies for varying durations, ranging from a few nights to several months, based on their specific needs.

They focus on tasks related to the baby’s nighttime routine which may include night feeds, changing nappies, settling the baby back to sleep, preparing and sterilising bottles, and dressing the baby in the morning. They’re compatible with exclusive breastfeeding — they’ll bring the baby for a feed then take the baby and burp/change them, so the mum can easily get back to sleep rather than become fully awake in the night.

Night nannies are typically not responsible for domestic cleaning or laundry tasks. Their focus is on the baby’s care and the well-being of the parents during the night.

Night nannies in the UK are highly qualified and have extensive experience in newborn care.They may come from backgrounds such as paediatric nursing, midwifery, maternity nursing, health visiting, or general childcare.

A night nanny is great for: Tired parents of babies who aren’t sleeping much

Rachel’s personal view: “Night nannies are expensive, no getting away from it, but many parents will tell you it’s the best money they’ve ever spent. Sleep deprivation is a form of torture. I used night nannies for two of my babies and they were like angels who arrived at our hour of greatest need. I remember being sceptical they would genuinely help me sleep as I was exclusively breastfeeding, but they really did. Angels, I tell you.” 

What is a live-in nanny 

A live-in nanny is a professional caregiver who lives with the family they work for, providing childcare services on a full-time basis. 

The live-in nanny will have their own room in your home and will help with childcare duties throughout the day and sometimes during evenings or weekends as well, depending on the family’s needs. Even though they live with you 24/7, they are still only available to work within their contracted hours, although you might be able to request ad-hoc babysitting sessions when needed. 

Live-in nannies may be responsible for tasks such as feeding, bathing, and playing with children, as well as helping with household chores related to the children, such as tidying their rooms or doing their laundry. 

They are usually employed directly by the family and may work under specific terms outlined in a contract, including salary, working hours, and any additional benefits or responsibilities. 

A live in nanny is great for: families with busy parents who have unpredictable schedules (or travel a lot) – and who have a spare room 

Rachel’s personal view: “Demand for live-in nannies was off the charts during Covid, as parents were desperate for childcare within their bubble. That effect has persisted a bit, and live-in salaries are much higher than they used to be relative to live-out. That said, if you find someone you can live harmoniously with, live-in can be absolutely brilliant. Out of all the families I speak to, those with live-in nannies are, in general, the happiest with their childcare overall.”

What is a nanny housekeeper 

A nanny housekeeper is hired to do both nanny and housekeeper duties. They’re the ultimate all-in-one package, handling everything from childcare to cleaning, cooking, and laundry. They work in the family’s home, juggling childcare duties while keeping the house clean and tidy. Whether it’s playing with the kids, whipping up a tasty meal, or tackling amountain of laundry, they’re on it.

Depending on your needs and how old your child is, a nanny housekeeper might focus more on looking after the little ones during certain times of the day and then switch gears to tidying up or cooking later on. They work hard to seamlessly blend childcare and housekeeping tasks to keep the household running smoothly. 

They’re usually hired directly by the family, and their hours can vary from full-time to part-time, depending on what works best for everyone.

It’s a common misconception that nannies and nanny housekeepers do the same work, including household duties. This isn’t the case as nannies typically won’t do household tasks, so it’s best to advertise that you are explicitly looking for someone who can do both nanny and housekeeping.

A nanny housekeeper is great for: families that need a bit of cleaning and a bit of nannying, but not a full nanny role 

Rachel’s personal view: “Nanny-housekeepers are a bit of a unicorn, unfortunately. You can see why they’re so sought-after, offering the promise of comprehensive childcare and household support. By all means give it a go getting hold of one – they do exist – but my advice is, have a backup plan (and if you see one you like, act fast!)”

Maternity nurse

What is a maternity nurse?

A Maternity nurse is a highly trained and experienced professional who specialises in providing support and care to families with newborns. Maternity nurses are typically hired to help parents during the first few weeks and months after their baby is born. Their role is to provide guidance on newborn care, help to establish routines, and offer support to parents as they adjust to the challenges of caring for a new baby.

They are experts in newborn care and are well-versed in the latest practices and guidelines and will assist the parents with tasks such as feeding, nappy changing, bathing, and establishing a sleep routine.

The services of a maternity nurse are typically temporary, covering the immediate postpartum period. The duration of their stay can vary based on the family’s needs, ranging from a few weeks to several months.

They have professional qualifications related to childcare, nursing, midwifery, or similar fields and will have completed specialised training courses in newborn care and postnatal support.

A maternity nurse is great for: New parents who want to be supported in the early weeks of their baby’s life

Rachel’s personal view: “Like night nannies, maternity nurses are not cheap, but I often hear from new parents that it’s the best money they ever spent. In fact I’ve never heard of anyone regretting getting a maternity nurse. This is a gold standard option used by wealthy families, allowing parents space to get to know their baby with confidence and in a relaxed way..” 

Mother’s help or Father’s help

What is mother’s help? 

Mother’s helps might perform very similar tasks and duties to that of a nanny, but they often don’t have the same experience as a professional nanny, and would not usually be left with sole-charge of the children except for short periods of time. 

They’re often cheaper than a nanny because they have less experience and wouldn’t charge for childcare in the same way a professional nanny would. 

This arrangement would give you some help with childcare duties while still being available to oversee and provide guidance as needed, but give you the freedom to manage most of the childcare while they helped with other at-home duties like meal or snack preparation, tidying or light housekeeping. 

The role of a mother’s help can vary depending on your needs and the specific arrangement made between you and the helper. It is typically a part-time position and may be ideal for individuals who are interested in gaining experience in childcare but are not yet ready for the full responsibility of being a sole caregiver.

Mother’s help is great for: stay-at-home parents who need extra help in taking care of the children

Rachel’s personal view: “I wish we could retire the term ‘Mother’s Help’ (what’s the father doing?) but unfortunately that is what they’re commonly called in the industry. Mother’s helps are a bit of a secret, the kind of thing you only hear rumoured once you’re firmly entrenched in ‘parent-land’. For those families that can afford them, they can be transformative in taking a load of stress and pressure off.”


What is a childminder? 

A childminder is a professional childcare provider who offers a nurturing and supportive environment for children in their own home. They have to be registered either directly with Ofsted or an Ofsted-registered agency. They’re closely regulated by Ofsted, either directly or through the agency they’ve joined, ensuring that they meet specific standards for safety, quality of care, and child development. Childminders are legally required to deliver exactly the same curriculum as nurseries do, namely the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).

Childminder to child ratios are set by Ofsted so, depending on the age ranges, childminders can care for up to six children under the age of 8.

Childminders typically provide care for children in their own home, which feels cosy and familiar where children can feel comfortable and secure. Their home-based setting usually includes dedicated play areas, bedrooms for naps, and outdoor spaces for outdoor play and exploration.

A childminder can offer your child tailored and individualised care because they have small settings, which means activities and routines can be adapted to suit a small number of children. 

Many childminders offer flexible hours, including early mornings, evenings, and weekends, making them a convenient option for families with non-traditional work schedules.

Childminders often care for children of various ages simultaneously, creating a family-like environment where siblings can play and learn together. They adapt activities and routines to accommodate different age groups, providing age-appropriate experiences and challenges.

A childminder is great for: families with any age children who want an affordable childcare option 

Rachel’s personal view: “Childminders are the ‘jewel’ in the UK childcare system’s crown; flexible, high-quality, relatively affordable. It’s a tragedy that the number of childminders has been in steep decline for over a decade now, due to lack of support from government. If you can find a great childminder near you this can be an excellent option. It’s what I chose for my own first baby!”