What are your childcare options?

When you’re a working mum, finding childcare that is trustworthy, reliable, affordable and that your child likes is essential.

From large nursery chains to local childminders, there are a wide array of childcare choices available. The type of child care that is right for you depends on your needs and budget. To help you make the right decision, we give a quick overview of some of your childcare options.


  • Childminders look after babies and children in their own home.
  • They’re self employed.
  • They can look after up to six children under the age of eight, but no more than three children under five years old.
  • Some childminders will collect children from school and look after them.
  • Most childminders work from 8am to 6pm.
  • Childminders who look after children under eight need to register with OFSTED.
  • There are no national rates for childminders.

After school care and breakfast clubs

  • Many schools have after school clubs or breakfast clubs.
  • If not, they may recommend an independent after-school childcare provider.
  • Check qualifications, and if they’re OFSTED-inspected and CRB checked.


  • Nurseries care for children under five years old.
  • They must be registered with OFSTED (or the equivalent in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales). 

Au pairs

  • Au pairs are usually foreign and come to the UK to learn English, or to experience living and working in another country.
  • An au pair’s duties usually include looking after the children, and basic household chores.
  • You need to provide an au pair with accommodation.
  • Au pairs don’t usually have any childcare qualifications.
  • You can find au pairs online or through an agency.
  • Au pair agencies must be registered with the British Au Pair Agencies Association.


  • Nannies look after children of any age in your home.
  • They may live in or out.
  • They’re employed by you.
  • Most people find nannies through agencies.
  • Nannies in England can register with OFSTED if they wish.
  • Nannies in Wales can register with the CSSIW  if they wish.
  • All nannies in Scotland must register with the SCSWIS.

Where to find local childcare

You can find local childcare including childminders, nurseries, after school care, breakfast clubs, crèches and more through your local Family Information Service.