75 Questions To Ask a Potential Nursery

Whether you need to head back to work early or you’re planning ahead for when your little cherub is older, selecting their nursery is serious business. Firstly, there are practicalities to think of – is it in a convenient location for drop off and pick up? Are you looking for a school nursery where your little one can stay until reception? Would a private nursery with longer hours work better for you?

It’s important to think about what your little one needs now and later. You’ll really need to consider what the priorities are for you as parents at the different stages your child will be in nursery. With this in mind, we’ve crowdsourced this comprehensive list of questions for potential nurseries from the lovely Bump community. Here you’ll find questions relevant for newborns, infants and toddlers, so you can be prepared for every stage of their learning.

Why not print off the list and highlight the ones you’d like to ask on visits? Looking around different childcare settings, you’ll soon get a feel for where you’d like your child to be. And while every question might not be important to you, remember there is no such thing as a stupid question when it comes to looking after your child. Plus, nursery managers and staff are absolutely used to being asked these sort of questions and should be ready to put your mind at ease.

Your Nursery Question Checklist – Save or Print to Take on Visits!

Activities What type of activities do the children do?
Activities How much time do little ones spend outside?
Activities What do you do if it’s raining/snowing/bad weather?
Activities Do children go on any external trips?
Communication How do you provide parents/carers with feedback and progress updates? (books, apps, online portals?)
Communication How do you involve parents? Do you have events for them to get to know each other?
Communication What is your accident/injury policy?
Communication What type of end of day/session update do you provide?
Cost What’s provided? Lunch? Snacks? Nappies/wipes?
Cost How do you allocate ‘free’ hours?
Cost What activities are included in cost or extra?
Cost Is any clothing/equipment provided? E.g. wellies, rainsuits
Cost Do you still have to pay if child is on holiday?
Cost How often do I need to pay? Monthly, termly etc
Cost Is there a registration fee?
Cost Do you accept childcare vouchers/payment via tax-free childcare accounts?
Cost Is there a penalty for late pick ups?
Food Will staff follow BLW or traditional weaning and what training do they have in them?
Food Can I see a typical food menu?
Food Is your food cooked at the nursery?
Food Are sweets and treats offered, if so, when?
Food Do you accommodate special dietary requirements/allergies?
Food Where do children eat?
Food Do you feed babies on demand or to a schedule?
Food Do children with food allergies have equivalent foods and activities provided?
Food/Staff What qualifications do cooks have?
General Care Will you give medicines if necessary?
General Care How do you comfort a child if they are upset?
General Care How do you manage children’s behaviour e.g. being ‘naughty’
General Care What are your safeguarding procedures for things like bullying/biting?
General Care Why do you like working with children?
General Care What is the most challenging thing about working with children?
General Care Do you use time outs?
General Care How do you handle babies crying? Do you comfort and hold them?
General Care How much/often will my baby be held?
General Care Will you adopt our home routine with baby?
General Care How often do you change nappies? On demand or to schedule?
General Care/ Safety What allergy policies and safeguarding do you have in place?
Learning How do you approach nappy/toilet training?
Learning How do you support children’s learning interests
Learning How do you help young babies to develop?
Learning What is your most recent OFSTED grading and where can I read the report?
Learning What SEN polices and procedures do you have in place?
Learning Can you talk me through the routine of a session/typical day?
Learning Do children have any screentime?
Learning Are there set activities planned throughout the day?
Learning How do you ensure all children make progress and follow their interests?
Procedure What hours/sessions do you offer?
Procedure What is the notice period for leaving?
Procedure What happens if I can’t make it back in time due to train cancellations?
Procedure When does the nursery close for holidays?
Procedure I early/late drop off or pick up ever possible?
Procedure What needs to come with the child to nursery each day?
Procedure If parents provide wipes and nappies – do they want provided monthly or daily
Procedure Do you do pick ups and drop offs at local schools?
Procedure What sort of settling in period do you have?
Procedure Do children move between rooms/groups by age or ability?
Registration Is there a waiting list?
Registration What spaces do you currently have available?
Safety What safety procedures do you have on site for access?
Safety What safety procedures do you have in place for going out on trips?
Safety Do you have the Millie’s Mark?
Safety How are babies transported when out and about?
Sleep Where do they sleep?
Sleep Will someone stay with my child while they sleep?
Sleep How do you approach children dropping naps?
Sleep Do you have a nap schedule or routine?
Staff What is the staff to child ratio?
Staff What ages to children move between rooms/classes?
Staff Will we be informed if child’s keyworker changes?
Staff How many first aid trained staff are there?
Staff What level are staff trained to?
Staff What continual professional development do staff undertake?
Staff How many children does each keyworker have assigned to them?
Staff How long have staff members been working with you?
Staff How are ratios maintained if staff are ill?

 

 

You might have to visit a bunch of nurseries to find the perfect fit or hit on lucky and narrow it down early on. Not sure a nursery is a good fit for you? There are lots of other childcare options available, many of which you can still use government free hours to fully or partially fund if you qualify for funding. Forest school sessions, a childminder or some play groups are possible alternatives that many parents choose instead of or alongside nursery care.

Want some real mum perspectives? Check out our Content Editor, Katie’s experience of putting her son into nursery, and our top tips for choosing a nursery