Childcare Waiting Lists Are So Wild, You Need To Sign Up When Pregnant

Get ahead with childcare. Like, really ahead.
Children are usually put in childcare at three years old.
FatCamera via Getty Images
Children are usually put in childcare at three years old.

Expecting a baby? Depending on how far along you are, you might want to sort out your childcare needs. Sadly, we’re not joking.

That’s because waiting times are ridiculously long at the moment and some mums are sharing the advice they wish they knew before they had children.

One mum, author Libby Page, says her ultimate parenting advice would be to arrange childcare before the baby is here, so you have nothing to worry about when you want to go back to work.

It does depend on the area you live in as some might be in high demand, while others may require a deposit before securing a place, but the general advice it to book it during pregnancy.

Don’t forget that many parents register their baby on a waiting list as soon as they’re expecting, which means places will go quickly.

NCT, the national charity for pregnancy, says to get ahead.

Joanna Corfield, Head of Communications and Campaigns at NCT, said: “We’ve been hearing more and more about how working parents are having to think about childcare well in advance of when they need it. In some areas where demand is high and provision is low, some families are having to make decisions in the early stages of pregnancy.

“Our website has some useful information about what to consider before making a choice.”

Others replied to the thread sharing the difficulties they’ve had accessing childcare, even when they started extremely early.

When should I start my childcare search?

According to the Baby Centre, you should start looking during your pregnancy.

They say don’t worry if you’re unsure whether you’ll return to work full-time or part-time, or even at all. Making enquiries as early as you can means you’ll be armed with all the information you need to make a decision when the time comes.

When do I need to make a decision about childcare?

In areas where there’s high demand, you may need to secure a childcare place for your baby before they’re born or shortly after. However, in most cases you won’t need to decide this early. It depends on the kind of childcare you want. According to Baby Centre, these can be

  • Day Centres which have a waiting list, so be prepared to put your child’s name down up to six months before you need the place. You may need to pay a deposit or booking fee.

  • Childminders usually need to be booked at least a month in advance. However, it’s worth making enquiries well before this as demand can vary.

  • A nanny may take time to find, so start your search at least several months before you need one. You’ll need to interview as many nannies as possible to find the right one, and then trial them before they start.

They advise drawing up a list of your first, second and third childcare choices. That way you’ll be well informed about your back-up choices, just in case your favourite doesn’t work out.

The earlier you start, the better.