What types of childcare are there?

Find out about different childcare options and where to find them.

Finding the the right person to help bear some of the stresses and strains of parenthood can be a tough job.
It might be as simple as needing an extra pair of hands every now and then to help out with the small things, or it could be that you need a full-time nanny while you get back to work. Whatever the case, it can be stressful trying to find the right person for the job. After all, Your child is the most important thing in your life and you're about to leave him or her in someone else's hands.
And while childcare can be expensive, some people have no choice in the matter. It’s now becoming more and more common for both parents to need to generate income to support the household so getting back to work is often a must.
For most people, friends and family are always going to be the preferred option. But things aren’t always that easy so you may find yourself looking for professional help.
If this is the case, who do you turn to?

Different Types of Childcare

The first thing you need to do is assess exactly what type of childcare you need. There are many options out there and they all come with different price tags.
The most popular options include:
  • Nannies
  • Babysitters
  • Child minders
  • Nurseries
  • Au pair


Babysitters are usually for one-off occasions like short trips and nights out to rekindle that romantic spark with your other half. Grandparents, best friends and next-door’s teenage daughter are often going to be the best option when it comes to finding cheap babysitters, since professional babysitters are hard to come by.


Childminders are usually professionals who look after children in their own homes. They will often take care of many babies or children at once, making it one of the cheaper options for regular childcare. If you need regular care for work or maybe those Wednesday pilates classes you’ve thought about joining, a childminder could be the right option for you.


A nanny is usually someone who looks after your child or baby in your own house. This is a great option for some people because it means that even though you can’t be with your child, they will still be able to stay within an environment they’re familiar with. You’ll also save a lot of time time taking your child to and from childcare since the nanny comes to you.
Having a nanny doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be busy somewhere else. Many people have nannies come to the house even when they’re at home themselves. That way that can keep an eye on the baby while you get on with the demands of life.
Need to pop out to grab something from the shops? No problem when you’ve got a nanny around.
You can also expect a nanny to help out with light household chores, although it’s best to make it clear what you will expect from your nanny when interviewing them.
Whether it’s once per week or 5 days per week, nannies are a great option if you’ve got a regular schedule that requires consistent childcare.

Au Pair

An au pair is a young adult from a foreign country, who is looking to live with a host family for a fixed period of time. The au pair helps with basic childcare and light housework and in exchange receives lodging and a small amount of “pocket money”.
The main purpose of an au pair is the cultural exchange and it can be a great way to expose your child to different cultures from a young age. While an au pair cannot be expected to work as a full time nanny, having their support around the house can be really beneficial and certainly be used to babysit from time to time.
If you’ve got a spare bedroom in the house then hosting an au pair for a little while can be a really exciting and cheap way of getting some extra childcare support.
In our opinion, au pairs work better when the kids are slightly older, say between the ages of 5 and 14.


A nursery school (also known as a play school, preschool or kindergarten) is an early introduction to education for young children. They’re designed for children between the ages of 3 and 5 and are run by qualified professionals who supervise and encourage educational play.
This is a great way for children to begin to adapt to classroom behaviour while they develop their early social skills.
Nursery education is definitely beneficial for a child’s early development but it is also one of the most expensive forms of childcare. That said, in some countries children are entitled to free nursery education so make sure to do your research before making any decisions. In England, for example, all 3 and 4 year-olds are entitled to 570 hours of free nursery education or childcare.

Where to find childcare in the UK?

So, hopefully by now you’ve got a better idea about which type of childcare you’re looking for. Now you might be asking yourself how you’re going to go about finding it.

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