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Questions to ask: A guide to starting nursery

Questions to ask: A guide to starting nursery

In our last post how to find a nursery we discussed all the issues surrounding how to look for a nursery and how to narrow down your list. One question that we’ve been asked repeatedly since is what you should look for and what questions you should ask when you’re there. We asked our panel of experts (our mummy panel) what they ask a potential nursery, and they helped us come up with this definitive list of questions to ask a nursery.

For a first visit it’s usually best to go without your babies/ little ones so you can have your full focus on taking in what is happening around you, and so that you don’t get distracted from asking any questions. I made this mistake taking Annabel in when I first went for a look around and I left with loads of questions still buzzing around in my head as a drove away.

You can always print off this checklist and add your own questions or points you’d like to make!



  • What is the entry system? Do they know who is coming in and out of the building?
  • Do the nursery do trips and how do they ensure safety?
  • How many first aiders are on hand?
  • Is there a smoking policy for staff – especially if they’re handling your child after a smoking break)
  • Fire exits and procedures (how do they evacuate babies when there is a 1:3 ratio)


  • Is food prepared onsite?
  • Is there a sample menu?
  • Are the ingredients fresh?
  • How often is the roatation of the menus?
  • Do you offer alternatives if allergic or if I child does not like?
  • Is all food and drink tracked in a diary, as well as how much has been eaten?
  • What drinks are offered, and how often are they offered?
  • How do they cope with fussy eaters?


  • What is the staff turnover?
  • What qualifications do the staff have (as a basic requirement managers must be qualified to level 3, and half of all remaining staff must be at least level 2)
  • What training do staff get and how often?
  • What is the ratio of staff to children at the different stages/ages?
  • What is the procedure for the key person and settling in of children?
  • Shift staffing – are there early staff or do all staff start at the same time? How does it work with staff breaks or lunchtimes?


  • What do they cover? (nappies, wipes, milk, food?)
  • What are the arrangements for fees in the below circumstances
    • Bank holidays
    • Holidays
    • Sickness
    • Unforeseen circumstances if the nursery is forced to close
  • Do the fees increase on an annual basis?
  • Do you accept childcare vouchers? If so which providers do you work with?


  • How does the nursery support toilet training
  • What are the emergency procedures
  • Is there a set routine for children, how do nap time’s work?
  • What do you need to provide on a daily basis?


  • How do they support the framework?
    • Activities, resources, experiences
  • How is the children’s development  tracked and communicated – diaries, parents evenings, photos, individual development folders

Questions Curated by Holly Harding, mummy to Harry and Jack.

Have you got any questions or points you think we’ve missed? Let us know your questions to ask a nursery and we’ll add them to our checklist!

Thanks for reading – in my next post I’ll be looking at the emotional side of leaving your babies/little ones at nursery for the first time. This is something I’ve really struggled with over the last week, and there have been plenty of tears! (mine!) If you have any tips or coping mechanisms let me know and I’ll include as many as possible in the next post.

Jo x