Skip to main content

Types of Childcare


Childminders are self-employed and usually look after your child in their own home. They may offer full day care or childcare before and after school and during school holidays. They are more flexible than other forms of childcare and some childminders can offer extended hours or overnight stays. Children are cared for in a home setting giving them opportunities for real life and community based activities and experiences. Some childminders provide free childcare places for eligible 2-year-old children and/or 3 and 4-year-old children Free places are for up to 15 hours per week.

Find a childminder


Crèches are located in shopping centres, gyms, exhibition centres and leisure centres. They offer occasional childcare usually for up to 2.5 hours at a time. Crèches provide a safe and fun place for children to enjoy activities whilst their parent or carer is shopping, studying or taking part in a leisure activity.

Find a creche


Day Nurseries

A day nursery provides full-time or part-time childcare. Nurseries provide a safe and caring environment, with a range of stimulating activities for children, encouraging them to learn through play. Many day nurseries provide free early education and childcare places for 3 and 4-year-old children for 15 hours per week and many also provide places for eligible 2-year-old children.

Find a day nursery


Preschools (sometimes called playgroups, kindergartens and Montessori schools) offer young children the chance to learn and play in small groups. Most preschools are open for sessions which range from 2 and a half hours to 4 hours, either mornings or afternoons. The majority of preschools offer free (funded) early education places for 3 and 4-year-olds for 15 hours per week and many also offer free places for eligible 2-year-olds. Several of Merton's Children's Centres have preschools on site.

Find a preschool

Nannies, au pairs and babysitters

This type if childcare takes place in your own home.

Nannies may either live with the family or work on a daily basis with one family or more. Nannies with a proper childcare qualification can take complete charge of the child. Parents should check the nanny's qualifications and experience and take up references. Mother's helps may have some experience with children but are not qualified to have full responsibility for the care of young children.

Find a nanny or babysitter agency

Au pairs come from abroad to study or improve their English by living as a family member. Unless they are qualified or experienced, they should not be left in charge of young children. Parents are responsible for making sure that an au pair is capable of looking after their child's safety.

Babysitters. Parents are responsible for making sure that a babysitter is capable of looking after their child's safety.

School Nursery Classes

School nursery classes in Merton are attached to primary schools. They provide free (funded) early education places for 3 and 4-year-old children for 15 hours per week. Some schools have wraparound care, which is childcare before a school's nursery session starts or after it ends and can include a lunchtime session. Wraparound care can be on the school site or nearby.

Find a school nursery class

More information about applying for a nursery class place

Out-of-school care

Out-of-school care provides childcare and activities outside school hours. Out-of-school clubs can be breakfast clubs, after school clubs and holiday play schemes. They provide children with a range of play and leisure activities, including sports, arts, music and games. Some offer a homework club.

Find breakfast and afterschool care

Find a holiday playscheme

Back to top