Childcare and Costs

It amazes me, the variety of childcare options out there. Hopefully there is one to suit everybodies needs.

Free sources of childcare

Family, Friends and Neighbours

Family, friends and neighbours may all be able to help out where they are able to, whether it be a regular occurance or not. It certainly doesn't hurt to ask.


Home-start is a charity that provides support, friendship and practical help for any family with a child under the age of 5. They will connect you with a volunteer who will visit you for a few hours a couple of times a week..

College Students

Students, studying nursery nursing qualifications or similar, need to have experience with young children. Contacting your local college's placement officer may be the easiest method of finding such help. Remember though that as the students are not yet qualified they should not be left with children under 8 years old unsupervised.

Free Places for 3 and 4 year olds

All children receive 15 hours of free childcare a week from the age of 3. The childcare can be in school nursery or reception classes, day nurseries, playgroups or with some childminders.

Childcare you pay for


Doulas are usually thought of as a support partner for women in labour, but you can also hire a post-birth doula to help out a few hours a day or full time Monday to Friday for 6-8 weeks following birth. They are usually more flexible than other postnatal support; helping with the baby, being there if you feel low, helping with cooking, cleaning and running the house if need be. Expect to pay between £10 and £15 an hour. See Doula UK for a map of doula's in the UK.

Maternity Nurses

A maternity nurse is usually a well qualified and experienced nanny with particular experience of looking after newborns. They usually live in with you and are available round the clock, with one day off a week.Live-out maternity nurses usually work 10 - 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. Most care only for the mum and new baby though some will help with older siblings too. They aim to help you and baby into a routine with an emphasis on helping baby sleep through the night. You normally hire a maternity nurse for 4 - 12 weeks and need to book 5 - 7 months in advance. Expect to pay at least £550 a week.

Day Nurseries

Day Nurseries look after and educate children from around 6 weeks to 5 years. There are different types of nurseries including private, community, council and work place. They are normally open only during normal working hours. All nurseries have to be registered and are checked by ofstead. Expect to pay between £100 and £170 for a full time week.


A nanny is a carer who looks after your child in your home. Levels of experience vary from newly qualified nannies straight out of college (many of whom will have had some childcare and baby-sitting experience) through to highly qualified and experienced professionals who have spent years caring for children in assisting busy families in running their lives smoothly. They can live in or out of your home. You are responsibe for paying their national insurance and tax. Expect to pay between £150 and £400 a week depending on hours worked, responsibilities and whether they live with you or not.

Child Minders

Child minders are self employed and care for children in their own homes. They have to be registered and are inspected once a year by ofsted. They can care for babies or look after children before and after school. Expect to pay between £90 and £140 for a full time week.

Mothers Help

A mothers help is usually an unqualified person, and as such can not have sole responsibility for a child. They work with all age groups and tend to help out with house work, shopping etc as well. Some may be live-in. Expect to pay around £5 an hour.

Playgroups / Pre-schools

These are norrmally independantly run and provide play and education to 3- 5 year olds (some take 2yr olds as well). They have to be registered and inspected by ofsted. A session normally lasts 3 hours and costs £3 to £5 a session but you may be asked to pay for a block booking of around half a term in advance. Free places are available for over 3's.

Nursery schools

Nursery schools take 3 - 5 year olds (some take 2yr olds) and are normally open in school hours during term time. Children can attend all day or for a session. It will almost certainly offer a Government-approved early years curriculum. There are state and private nursery schools. State school are normally free.

After School Clubs

These usually run from about 3:30pm till 6pm during term times. They may be run at your childs school or in a different venue. Activities usually include sports, crafts and outings. The typical cost for an after school club is £35 for 15 hours a week. Some schools also run breakfast clubs.

Holiday Clubs

Most areas have holiday clubs and playschemes that run during school holidays. Holiday clubs cost from £40 to £90 a week. Private holiday play schemes cost around £150 a week.

Finding Childcare

To find out what is available locally try putting your town or postcode into and select the child care you require.