Returning to work? Childcare options to suit your budget

Last Modified 16th of February 2021

Returning to work after having your baby can be a very emotional process.  In order to get back into “work-mode”, finding the right method of childcare and a provider you trust is the key to making the transition as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Here are the main options available to you:


Grandparents, siblings, and other family members are the most popular childcare choice. Choosing this style of childcare gives you the reassurance that your little one is with someone you already know and trust – and it’s usually free!


Nannies care for your child in your own home, keeping your children in a familiar environment. Your child gets lots of one to one attention and a nanny can take your child to playgroups and other activities, giving them the best of both worlds. A nanny can also take care of all housework for your child including cleaning their room, doing their laundry and cooking for them.

Although qualifications are not a legal requirement to become a nanny, many have a CACHE Diploma, or a BTEC or NVQ in children’s care, learning, and development. When looking for a nanny, it is important to interview several nannies and to find one who not only meets your personal and professional requirements but also fits with your family’s personality.

Nannies are an expensive option and having a live-in nanny means sharing your home with them. You become their employer and are responsible for their tax and National Insurance. The total cost of having a nanny can be between £250 and £500 per week.


Child-minders care for your child in their own home. Child-minders have to pass qualifications in childcare and first aid, are subject to DBS (formerly CRB) checks, and their homes are inspected before they are registered.

Child-minders can care for up to six children at a time, but only three of those can be under five, so your child still gets lots of one to one attention in a homely environment. Most child-minders work Monday to Friday between 8 am and 6 pm, but some can be more flexible. Costs range from £2.50 to £7.50 per hour.

Day nurseries

Day Nurseries are Government regulated and generally care for children from 6 months, although some will accept children as young as 6 weeks. Your employer may operate a nursery onsite, so it’s worth investigating what they offer.

The number of children looked after can vary greatly from under 20 to over 100, giving your child plenty of opportunity to socialise with other children. Fees start at around £175 per week but can vary greatly and be much higher or lower depending on where you live.

When to start looking

It is a good idea to do your research during your pregnancy giving you plenty of time to look into your options and make an educated decision on the method that is going to suit you and your finances. Many good nurseries have waiting lists, so when choosing this method, the sooner you apply for a place, the better chance you have of securing one.