18/04/2010 18:19 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Choosing A Childminder: Questions To Ask

Going back to work after the birth of a child is the first decision many mothers have to make.

The next decision is probably the most important (and one that sometimes the first hurdle hinges on).

And that is who should look after your baby? If you're lucky enough to find a childminder (there are none in our village) there are important questions to ask them.

  • Qualifications, insurances and inspections. For your peace of mind check out all her relevant paperwork.

  • How many children and their ages does she plan on looking after? Quite often a childminder can be found through word of mouth but that in itself brings problems as she may take the maximum number of children, which may not be the right setting if your child is shy.

  • What outside activities does she take the children to? You'll probably want your baby to have a range of experiences with a trusted adult.

  • What activities does she do with the children in the home? Does she let them watch television and if so, how much?

  • Does she do nursery or school drop-offs? One of the reasons many parents choose childminders is the flexibility they're able to offer.

  • How does she transport the children? Get details about car seats and how she walks safely with toddlers.

  • How does she resolve conflicts between all the children, minded ones and her own? Finding someone with the same views on this is key to a successful working partnership.

  • Other good questions to ask involve child safety; which rooms are out of bounds and how is this ensured? What would she do if a child had a head injury/choked or was burnt?

  • Some charge extra for meals so don't assume it's all in the cost and you may prefer different snacks to be offered your baby in which case you may have to provide them. It's also worth checking if they're happy for your baby to be in reusable nappies, if you use them.

One of the best indicators of how good a potential childminder is can be found out in a phone call to other parents who've used her. Alarm bells should ring if she's not keen on passing on their telephone numbers.

Ultimately the success of returning to work rests on how happy you are with the care given to your child. Get that right and everything else falls more easily into place.

What questions would you ask a potential childminder?