When my wife and I were trying for kids, we were both on good salaries, and it was hoped my wife would be able to be a stay-at-home mum to raise our child until three years old when nursery would naturally begin.

This was based on lots of opinions such as...

  • Kids who start school/nursery too young develop behavioural issues at home
  • Kids should be with their parents until they're ready
  • Look at the "family name removed" family, they sent their kids to school at one year old and look how they turned out. You don't want to be like them

Thanks to the global recession, my wife has to go back to work in a couple of weeks, and at 12 months my child will have to go to nursery.

As a dad who works from home and who has watched his child grow since birth, I have really strong emotions about this. Obviously I will miss my child through the day, but feel extra bad because I have listened to those opinions for years and never thought I'd be facing the same situation.

Is there any evidence to support whether nursery is a bad thing at this age range? I've looked but can't find anything beyond negative opinion to further my feelings. Sorry if I'm rambling, I guess I'm just trying to soften the blow...


18 Months Later

As this question seems to have attracted quite a bit of attention, I felt I should follow-up with how things worked out for us (please see below).

  • 1
    It really seems like you don't have a choice in this matter, and many families around the world do not. I think that this answer to a similar question about daycare may be the most useful for you.
    – Acire
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 12:06
  • 2
  • Thanks @Erica. So refreshing to read information based on studies rather than bigoted tabloid headlines
    – EvilDr
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 12:39
  • 2
    Some friends had to send their child to school quite early and the boy doesn't seem to have any issue. He is really smart and sociable. My son also enjoys going to nursery or children classes but we cannot afford it :( So don't worry. Just try to spend as much of your free time with him.
    – algiogia
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 16:03
  • 2
    Besides, I know kids that never went to daycare and are terrible. I think it depends more on the parent than on the school.
    – algiogia
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 16:06

3 Answers 3


As the man of the house you sometimes have to make unpopular decisions that are best for the family. If it's the best decision for your family, then that's what it is. Don't feel like a failure, feel like a good father. Plans don't often work out the way they need to, be thankful that you have the means to put your child in nursery, some families cannot and would have to make other adjustments, such as find a smaller/cheaper home.

Any 'evidence' that nursery is harmful likely to be subjective since A) each nursery is different and B) each child is different, there is no control group or variable in the study that does not change. Now, if they were to refer to a specific nursery then that's an entirely different matter.

Some things you can do to though:

  • Behavioral issues: My oldest has been in nursery since 6 months, and my youngest since 3 months. Any 'behavioral' issues that may arise could come from being around other kids, or simply from them being kids. What we do is correct behavior we think is bad, as soon as we notice it. This of course means we pay attention to our kids behavior on a regular basis. They aren't perfect, but in public they are some of the most well behaved kids you'll see at 3 and 1.5 years old.

  • All kids are different, so they learn at different rates, but try to find a nursery that isn't just a babysitter, where the kids will learn and be exposed to different things and kept busy during the day. They should be learning colors, alphabets, animals, read to, etc. This often puts them ahead of kids who didn't learn these things before preschool and/or kindergarten.

The hardest part for us was finding a nursery where we trusted the people/person running it, and the curriculum. In the end it came by word of mouth and we aren't disappointed, if we can help it the kids will stay there until they start school and if we have more kids they will attend there as well, at least part time.

  • 15
    "As the man of the house you sometimes have to make unpopular decisions that are best for the family. " - There's some implied sexism in that statement, the women of the house are equally capable of making unpopular decisions that are best for the family. Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 15:17
  • 6
    yeh, I knew somebody wouldn't like that. No sexism implied, in my culture the man of the house is the primary leader, I can only speak from my perspective and no one else's @MarkRogers Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 15:32
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    @BigHomie - Fair enough, just pointing that out. Anyway you should probably edit that part out, it will help you get some more upvotes and less downvotes (I haven't voted). The controversy will distract from your practical advice. "As the man of the house" -> "As a parent" for example". Just a suggestion. Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 15:42
  • 2
    Take it to Parenting Chat if you want to discuss further.
    – Acire
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 17:35

I don't know if you have this option but an alternative to nursery is to find a child minder. In the UK we have Ofsted registered childminders who are childcare professionals. Being registered with Ofsted means they are regularly inspected and will have a grading that you can assess them by.

Childminders deal with smaller numbers of children (at most 5 or so but usually fewer than that) and so have the opportunity to work much more closely with each child and tailor their care to the needs of that child. In my opinion they are also able to teach children much more and guide them in their development without them getting lost in some sea of children that you can get at nursery.

Children at childminders are still able to make friends with other children their ages and gain social skills, childminders often attend mother and toddler style groups that allow children to thrive in larger crowds of children. My mother has been a childminder for 22 years and she also has a network of childminder friends and they often gather at one house or another for lunch and to allow the children to play together and regularly do outings to parks or soft play centres or things like Wisley Gardens.

I know my mother strives to teach the children she cares for good manners and behaviour as well as trying her best to prepare them for school. She spends a lot of her free time coming up with activities that she can do with the children to teach them new things from numbers and spelling through to teaching the children words from the languages of the other children where they have bilingual parents.

I think childminders are the best of both worlds of raising children in a home setting but allowing them to interact with other children.

  • Just for the record: A similar system exists in Germany. There, it is called "Kindertagespflege". It is officially regulated, with similar rules as described for the UK. Child minders must be trained and registered with authorities (local "Jugendamt"), and have to follow various rules.
    – sleske
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 9:20

18 months later

It's been 18 months since I posted this question. In addition to the lovely answers posted above, I wanted to add some extra reading for those parents who find themselves in the same position as we were.

In the beginning, I found it torturous leaving our tiny child at nursury. She would cry, and the guilt was terrible (although the nursury staff joked that the tears were only for a few minutes after we'd left).

In time though, the benefits of nursury have shone through. Our daughter, now 2½, is far more sociable and outgoing than her friends of the same age who didn't (and some still don't) attend nursury. She has made some lovely friends, and us as parents have got to know some lovely people.

Yes, there are things that she's a bit behind on, such as speech (as the nursury staff don't have time for constant one-to-one care), plus the amount of germs and bug they bring home(!), but overall we're happy at how she has developed.

While this is strictly our own personal experience, I now believe that should our finances have been better, we would have still placed our child into nursury a few days each week.

If you are facing this decision, I wish you the best of luck. Be strong, and don't forget you can always find a different nursury if things don't work out too well :-)

  • 2
    Fantastic followup! I also had to keep my son in daycare for much of the first couple of years of his life, and it was quite beneficial. Now, that he does stay at home, we find it hard to get him opportunities to socialize since he is not in school yet and does not have siblings. This fall he'll start school though, so we expect things to improve in that regard. Commented May 8, 2017 at 18:04
  • Thanks for your kind feedback. Best of luck to you all in the next stage of your journey :-)
    – EvilDr
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 9:29
  • 1
    It turns out that socializing and school did accompany each other as I expected. Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 19:43

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