40 Years of Busy Bees

When to Start Exploring Nursery Options

Tips and advice on when to start looking for daycare.

Published: 18/08/2023

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Busy Bees

When to Start Looking for Nursery 

We understand that choosing the right childcare option for your child is a significant decision that can shape their early learning experiences. 

As a parent, you want to make sure your child receives the best care and education during their early years, which is why we’re here to guide you through the crucial steps of determining when to start exploring childcare options - from nursery waiting lists to finding the perfect fit for your family. 

When to Apply for Nursery

Everyone’s circumstances differ, and when you’ll need childcare will depend on your situation. However, it’s important to note that with childcare, it’s better to be prepared and do your research early to avoid disappointment when choosing a nursery for your child.

Some nurseries will have enrolment periods, often corresponding to the academic year, while others will be in high demand due to the local area, birth year, and quality of the care they provide. To secure a childcare space for your child it’s essential to:

1. Research Early

Begin your search well in advance. Different nurseries will have a maximum capacity for each age group, so researching different nursery options in your area will give you time to evaluate each one thoroughly. 

2. Consider Application Timelines

Nursery waiting lists can vary greatly depending on your location and the nursery’s popularity. Popular nurseries recommend applying as early as six months to a year before your desired start date, meaning you may still be expecting the arrival of your little one at the time (depending on your circumstances and choices). 

3. Register Early

Secure your space at your nursery of choice as early as you can by completing an application form and paying the relevant registration fee. Some nurseries may refer you to a waiting list if they are already fully booked for your desired start date. 

Best Age to Start Nursery - The Best Time for Your Child

The best age to start a nursery will completely depend on you, your family, and your child – including when it is time for parents to return to work, but is a common question among parents. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, there are some factors to consider: 

1. Social Development

Between the ages of two to three years old, children are more likely to engage in social interactions and benefit from structured learning environments.

2. Milestones

If your child is showing signs of curiosity, independence, and a desire to interact with other children, then your child may be indicating that they are ready for a nursery setting. 

3. Parental Readiness

It’s also important to think about whether you are ready for your child to go to nursery. If you are comfortable leaving your child in a nurturing environment, it might be time to start exploring nursery options. 

When to Start Looking for Childcare: An Example Timeline

To be as prepared as possible, try to put a timeline into place of when you should start looking at nurseries. Below is an example timeline of what you can do as a parent when planning for your childcare search. 
Please note, each nursery has different waiting lists and application times, for more information please contact your local nurseries to gain insights into nursery waiting lists to manage your expectations and to plan appropriately.

1. 12-18 Months before desired start date: 
Begin researching nurseries in your local area. Consider factors such as location, curriculum, staff-to-child ratio, and safety measures. This may be a good time to get on your chosen nursery’s waiting list if it’s very popular.

2. 9-12 Months before desired start date:

If you haven’t already done so, book in some nursery visits or look out for open days and tours - this will give you a firsthand experience of the facilities and allow you to ask questions . Submit applications to your top choices and join waiting lists if necessary.

3. 1-6 Months before desired start date: 

Prepare your child for the transition to the nursery by discussing the nursery and visiting together for settling-in sessions. 

Choosing the right nursery for your child is a big decision that takes careful consideration and planning. By starting your childcare search early, and understanding that there may be waiting lists, you can make an informed choice about your child’s early childhood education. 

Remember, each child is unique! So, trust your instincts and take the time to find the perfect childcare provider for your family. 

Busy Bees is proud to be celebrating 40 years of providing exceptional childcare. Find your local nursery today and get in touch to book a visit!