The Childcare Glossary

Published: 29/06/2021

Explaining Your Childcare Options

There is a large variety of different types of childcare available, and some will likely be more suited to your requirements and the needs of your children than others. 

Understandably, you want to make an informed choice about which childcare to opt for and, with our childcare glossary, you’ll be able to find out about the options available to you, make comparisons, and select the childcare that is right for your family with confidence.

At myTamarin we can help find you the perfect childcare solution - get in touch today to speak with one of our childcare experts. 


A nanny is employed to look after children of any age in their own family home. They do not have to be Ofsted registered but often have childcare experience and/or qualifications and can register with Ofsted’s Voluntary Childcare Register which enables parents to claim tax credits if eligible.

Just as there are varying forms of childcare, there are different types of nannies, all of whom offer different levels of childcare and domestic support. If hiring a nanny is something you are considering, then the following explanations will help you narrow down your selection.

Live-In Nanny

A live-in nanny not only provides childcare in your home but also lives in your home as their main residence as well. Often, they become like a member of the family and offer stability and familiarity, especially when parents work shifts or travel frequently for work. Most live-in nannies will be employed for 8-12 hours a day, 5 days a week.

Key Benefits of a Live-In Nanny:

  • They are typically more flexible with their hours
  • They can offer evening childcare on occasion and even accompany your family when travelling.
  • Often happy to undertake light household duties such as washing up and laundry.

Live-out Nanny

Live-out nannies provide childcare for set hours according to a schedule that suits your family’s needs. Usually, they work around ten hours a day, five days a week, arriving at the family home at the same time each morning and leaving in the early evening.

Key Benefits of a Live-Out Nanny:

  • Offer routine, which is ideal for parents with a regular working pattern
  • You get more privacy than with live-in childcare options

Nanny Housekeeper

A nanny-housekeeper will have responsibility for both childcare and household chores. It is a flexible role, meaning that you can decide how you want the duties to be divided; you may need a nanny-housekeeper that provides childcare and carries out cleaning duties when your children are occupied or who has sole responsibility for childcare before and after school, carrying out domestic duties in between.

Key Benefits of a Nanny-Housekeeper:

  • Household duties can be discussed and decided according to your needs
  • Creates more free time for parents
  • Can also look after pets and manage external workers and tradespeople who come to the home

Overseas Nanny

Overseas nannies are those that travel from other countries to live in the destination country and provide childcare for families. Common origin countries for international nannies include Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Often, they will seek a live-in position to build a relationship with the family they work for and so that they don’t have to navigate finding accommodation for themselves.

Key Benefits of an Overseas Nanny:

  • They can expose your children to a new culture, broadening their knowledge and enriching their learning
  • Their childcare is affordable and flexible

Rota Nanny

For most rota nanny roles, the nanny will be required to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for two weeks and will then have a fortnight off whilst a second rota nanny carries out their shift. Rota nannies are ideal for families with busy schedules who require round the clock childcare and those who need support when the family is away from home.

Key Benefits of a Rota Nanny:

  • On-call 24/7
  • Provide childcare and tutoring
  • Will carry out bath and bedtime with your children

Shared Nanny

Nanny shares are becoming an increasingly popular form of affordable childcare where two families share a nanny either by having the nanny look after their children at the same time or by having the nanny for set periods or days.

Key Benefits of a Shared Nanny:

  • More affordable as the cost of their employment is shared
  • Can provide an opportunity for your children to socialise with others of a similar age
  • Often more flexible than a full-time live-out nanny

Newborn Support

When a little one is welcomed to the world, support for the mother, baby and the entire family can be invaluable. Luckily, there are specialist forms of childcare support specifically for newborns that help your household adapt to new routines and responsibilities.

Maternity Nurse

A maternity nurse usually lives with the family they are supporting and is available 24 hours a day, six days a week in the first few months after birth to support the new parents and provide respite. They are experienced in supporting and caring for newborns and mothers and as well as providing nursery duties, they also teach parents new skills and techniques.

Key Benefits of a Maternity Nurse:

  • Give you time to rest and recover after birth with the peace of mind that your baby is being looked after
  • Provide an understanding and experienced ear for you to voice concerns to and ask questions
  • Can spot the early signs of issues such as lactose intolerance or reflux

Night Nanny

Night nannies are employed to support you and your baby throughout the night, allowing new parents to get much-needed sleep knowing that their baby is being looked after by an experienced childcare professional. They usually come to your home around 9 pm and work through to the early morning. They help with night-time feeds, the bedtime routine, breastfeeding and any sleep issues your baby might be experiencing.

Key Benefits of a Night Nanny:

  • Offer parental education and training for all nature of newborn concerns
  • Can be employed for as long as needed
  • Undertake newborn care but also offer valuable support for parents

Virtual Support

Virtual support is based online and can come in the form of web-based communities and new mum forums as well as sessions with newborn specialists including nurses and sleep consultants. My Tamarin, for example, has maternity nurses, lactation specialists and sleep consultants available for you to speak to on a one-to-one basis via video call.

Key Benefits of Virtual Support:

  • You don’t have to leave home
  • Sessions take place at a time that is convenient for you
  • Significantly less expensive than in-home help

Other Childcare Types

As well as nannies and newborn support, there are a whole host of other childcare types that are worth considering. Some do operate within your own home but other settings are available for anything from a few hours of care to full time.

After School Clubs

As the name suggests, after school clubs take place at the end of the school day and offer children supervised, structured activities, usually until 5:30 or 6 pm which is great for those parents who work a nine to five job or have shifts that go beyond the hours of the school day. After schools clubs are Ofsted regulated and cover a broad range of interests and topics such as physical activities, crafts and curriculum subjects such as science or design technology.

Key Benefits of an After School Club:

  • They take place on school premises
  • An affordable form of after school childcare
  • Can support school learning in a fun and engaging way

Au Pairs

Au pairs are usually young adults (18-24 years old) from a foreign country who take care of a family’s children and undertake light domestic duties in exchange for accommodation, meals, and a small allowance. They are not qualified childcarers and will not necessarily have previous experience, especially with young children. In the UK, they can only work for a maximum of 30 hours a week.

Key Benefits of an Au Pair:

  • They can be flexible to suit your family’s needs, meaning they can cover evening childcare or childcare at short notice
  • Much more affordable than other forms of live-in childcare
  • Help children to learn about other cultures and customs


Babysitters are usually hired on an ad-hoc basis for a few hours at a time to provide childcare when parents need to leave the house. They look after your child’s emotional and physical needs when you are gone but aren’t usually responsible for overall child development. Some parents prefer to use someone they know for babysitting duties, but you can also ask other parents or look online for recommendations.

Key Benefits of a Babysitter:

  • They are paid per hour rather than salaried
  • Offer flexible childcare and will cover just a few hours
  • Can be a relation or family friend over the age of 16

Breakfast Clubs

Breakfast clubs take place in the morning and typically start an hour before the school day begins. They are usually based within the child’s school and are run by school staff, community members or volunteers. Children are given the option to have a healthy breakfast and can then undertake a range of activities including reading and drawing.

Key Benefits of Breakfast Clubs:

  • Take place in a setting familiar to your child
  • Allows children to forge friendships outside the classroom
  • One of the least expensive childcare options


Most childminders are self-employed and look after children in their own houses. They provide care for small groups of children and some childminders will also offer drop-offs and pick-ups for school-aged children. As with nurseries, childminders must be Ofsted inspected, DBS checked, and first aid trained.

Key Benefits of a Childminder:

  • Gives your child a chance to socialise
  • There is a low adult to child ratio
  • Will get individual attention


Crèches provide daytime childcare, usually for just a few hours, whilst parents undertake another activity or task on the same premises. Some workplaces will have a crèche which employees can use whilst at work, but they are also found in other settings such as shopping centres, leisure centres and adult education colleges.

Key Benefits of a Crèche:

  • Have age-appropriate activities and toys
  • You can be contacted easily and are close by
  • Usually Ofsted registered (unless operational for less than 14 days a year)


A governess is a specialist who is employed to teach your child. They usually work with children over the age of five but are hired to work with children as young as three. As well as supporting children with homework and educational activities they also teach them routine, etiquette, and good behaviour.

Key Benefits of a Governess:

  • Will help children prepare for exams and assessments
  • Can teach specialised subjects such as languages or musical instruments
  • Manage a child’s timetable including communication with parents and their school

Family Care

Family childcare is childcare that is provided by family members. This can be grandparents, aunts or uncles but can also be members of the extended family. There are aspects to consider with family childcare, however, as although they don't need to be registered with Ofsted if providing childcare, legally, you can’t use a family member to routinely look after a child eight or under for more than two hours a day during normal working hours.

Key Benefits of Family Care:

  • No or little cost associated with this childcare
  • Your children are being cared for by family they know and are familiar with
  • Can be more ad-hoc than employed childcare providers

Mother’s Help

A mother’s helper is someone who helps a parent or family whilst the parents are home. They are generally considered too young to have sole care of children but can keep older children occupied whilst a mother feeds their newborn or carry out light housework whilst parents focus on childcare tasks, for example.

Key Benefits of Mother’s Help:

  • Can be a positive role model for your children
  • Can transition to a babysitter once older
  • Help with household tasks which gives you more family time


Nurseries are Ofsted regulated settings for daytime early years childcare and usually offer childcare for children from the age of six weeks up to five years. They can be run by private businesses, local authorities, community groups, schools or employers and range in capacity from just 15 or so children up to 150 in large settings.

Key Benefits of a Nursery:

  • Open as early as 7 am and close as late as 7 pm
  • All staff have to hold a DBS certificate and be paediatric first aid trained
  • Help your child develop social skills and allows them to interact with others

Parent and Toddler Groups

Also known as stay and play, parent and toddler groups are sessions in which children get to partake in activities in a fun and friendly environment. They are often run in local venues such as church halls and community centres and last for between one and two hours. Whilst you are responsible for the care of your child during parent and toddler groups, they do give you the chance to have a change of setting and meet other families.

Key Benefits of Parent and Toddler Groups:

  • Allows you to meet and talk to other parents
  • Sensory and engaging for your child
  • Promote toddler development


Playgroups are for babies, toddlers and pre-school aged children. Some allow parents or carers to stay with their child whereas others provide childcare whilst the parents leave. Playgroup sessions usually last three hours and take place over a morning or afternoon.

Key Benefits of Playgroup:

  • Children get to interact with others their age
  • Helps to develop their gross motor skills
  • They encourage physical activity


Pre-schools are educational settings that offer early childhood learning before a child starts compulsory education. They can be publicly or privately operated, and their cost may be subsidised once your child reaches three years of age.

Key Benefits of Pre-Schools:

  • Help your child to get used to a routine like they will experience when they start school
  • Build confidence, resilience and independence
  • Promotes language and cognitive skills

Reciprocal Childcare

Reciprocal childcare involves a family member, friend or other parent providing childcare for you in exchange for you doing the same for them. There are legalities to consider with this type of childcare, however, so you will need to make sure you are abiding by the hours and age requirements if you opt for this arrangement.

Key Benefits of Reciprocal Childcare:

  • Little or no cost involved
  • Can potentially provide emergency childcare
  • Allows your child familiarity

Wraparound Care

Wraparound care is usually offered by your child’s school and is a great option for those parents who work hours after the school day or who have children at different schools and need time to travel between them. Wraparound care can take place before or after school in the form of breakfast clubs or after school clubs run by school staff or outside agencies such as those run by sports coaches.

Key Benefits of a Nursery:

  • One of the most affordable forms of childcare
  • Can support and extend your child’s learning
  • Helps develop friendships and social skills


There are many different types of childcare to choose from, all with different benefits and budgets. There is no right or wrong approach to childcare as it will be as individualised as you and your family and you may have now reached a decision about which form of childcare you feel is best suited to your family’s needs.

If you want to take the next steps in arranging a nanny or newborn support, then as childcare specialist, MyTamarin can help find your perfect match. you can register with us here or call us on +44 (0)20 343 202 34.

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