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Choosing a Childminder
A childminder may be a good choice if you like the idea of your child being in a family situation and in a home environment. A childminder (outside or inside the family) may be the only option if you have a very young baby, as most crèches will not take them until they are at least 3 months.
How do I find a Childminder?
You may firstly want to think about the kind of childminder you want. Do you want a young mother who has her own children at home. Would you prefer an older mother with grown up children. Do you want the childminder to mind only your child. There are quite a few things to think about. Its important for you to be comfortable with the person yourself and feel you could talk with her if you need to change something or ask her to do something differently. When you start to look, the following may help:
- If there is a Childcare Committee in your area they may have a list of child minders who are available for work and who have completed a basic childcare course with them. You will need to phone or call to them directly for this list. See Help When You Need It section
- Contact the HSE for a list of registered childminders
- Word of mouth (ask friends, family or neighbours if they could recommend a childminder in your area).
- Check out the local newspapers and notice boards in your area.
- Advertise in your local newspaper for a childminder to suit your needs.
How do I choose a suitable childminder for my child?
Your child is precious so it is really important that you are completely confident with the person you choose to care for him/her. Make contact with interested applicants by phone initially to screen the most suitable. You can ask them general questions like:
- What experience have you got with children of this age?
- Do you have references available?
- What are your fees?
- Is there flexibility around part time arrangements?
- Is your service fully insured, including outings and car travel?
- How many children are you caring for now? What would be the maximum number in the future?
- Are you a registered with HSE or Childcare committees?
- Do you have any childcare and/or first aid training/qualifications?
What do I need to know?If you decide that you are happy with what you have heard from the person so far, arrange to meet them, in their own home if possible. It might be hard to decide with one meeting so do try to meet the childminder a few times before you make up your mind, especially if you do not know her at all. As well as asking the questions above, (if you have not already done so on the phone) when you meet also enquire about the following;
- Can you give me an example of what my child’s day would be like (starting with the morning until I pick him/her up?
- Who else will have contact with my child?
- Will anyone be smoking in the house while my child is there?
- How do you manage good behaviour and bad behaviour?
- Can I visit anytime my child is with you?
- Ask for contact details of other families the childminder has worked for and make sure to contact them personally for a reference.
If your child is going to be minded in the minder’s home, you need to be able to visit her home to make sure that it is a safe and pleasant place for your child to be. Look around and note the following:
- Is the environment bright, clean, safe and warm?
- Are the toys clean and well maintained and suitable for your child’s age group? Can the child bring toys with him/her?
- If there are children present observe the childminder as she interacts with them. If you have your own child with you, how does she react to him/her?
- Where will the child sleep? Is it suitable?
- Where will nappy changing/toileting take place?
- Is there a safe, well fenced outdoor area for children to play?
- What kinds of places will your child be likely to go to if the child minder takes him/her out?
- Does the childminder provide food/drinks and what will the daily meals normally include?
Points to note.
- A childminder should look after no more than six children including her own who are under the age of 6 years of age, and no more than 3 of these should be under 1 year of age.
- A childminder is allowed to look after 3 pre-school age children before they are required to notify the HSE.
- Ask as many questions as you need to make up your mind
- Your gut instinct may give you a sense of whether the childminder is suitable or not. Even if you feel happy with the person straight away, do still ask questions. You need to know for sure that your child will be well cared for and that his/her day to day needs are met in calm and relaxing environment.
- If you are unsure you might ask a relative or a close friend to come along with you for support and to compare notes afterwards.
- If you are finding it difficult to get somebody suitable don’t fret. Take your time and don’t rush into something you are uncomfortable with. It is not worth the risk!