Jillian Bolger

Choosing a creche is one of the most stressful things a new parent has to do.

Despite the expense, demand for places is always very high and many creches have waiting lists. With this in mind it's best to start your hunt for childcare as early as possible.

Begin by drawing up a shortlist of creches in your area ( is a good place to start), then call them up to see if they have availability. Fees can vary significantly, so enquire about pricing, too. First impressions are made on the phone but it's important to remember that not everyone has a good phone manner. So long as the person is polite, be prepared to give the creche a chance.

Once you've identified three or four creches that fit your criteria (local, affordable, have a place available when you need it) arrange to view each facility. Your child will be spending a significant amount of time here, so it's important that it feels right to you.


No one creche will tick all your boxes, so try to focus on the aspects that are most important to you. Some will have wonderful outdoor facilities, others will be freshly decorated with cheerful colours; some will have lovely menus that really excite you, others may have the nicest sleep rooms you could imagine. Ultimately, you are looking for a home-from-home where you'll feel happy dropping off junior each morning.

Creche managers are used to being quizzed by anxious parents, so will be expecting a potential customer to arrive with a long list of questions. They've heard them all before, so don't be shy about addressing any issues that are important to you and your child's wellbeing.

Ask about a typical day, and how they would accommodate your child's routine. Ask about the kind of activities your child can expect to partake in. Are there plenty of arts and crafts projects and are the children given much instruction?

Is there enough space for children, babies and staff to spend the day comfortably? Are there lots of puzzles, books and games to stimulate little minds and help them develop new skills?


Take time to inspect the creche's outdoor area. Are there playground facilities, such as slides, playhouses and sandpits and do they have a selection of ride-on trikes and cars?

Essentially, you want to get a sense that the children's happiness and wellbeing is prioritised. Look around and observe how the staff interact with other children. Do they seem genuinely affectionate towards their charges?

It's important you feel that a creche prioritises hygiene. Look around and see if the other children look clean, with wiped noses and faces. Are the sleep rooms well kept? Are the bathrooms and nappy-changing areas spotless? Is the kitchen immaculate and is it secure and inaccessible to little people?

Most creches provide hot meals, but some need you to supply your own food or cold snacks. Be sure to establish what's included in the fees.

Lastly, ask to see a few old menus so you have an idea of how healthy the food is.