Childcare and Early Years

What is a non-registered childcarer?

Not all childcarers need to be registered with Ofsted.

Au pairs, nannies, babysitters and creches may provide informal care.

Au pairs

Au pairs are single young people from within the European Community or certain other countries who stay with families. They study English and help in the home for a maximum of five hours a day. They must have at least two full days off each week, and be provided with meals, an allowance and their own room.

Au pairs are not usually trained to work with small children and so are not suited to looking after pre-school children while you are at work. However, they can be a good option for providing after school care when children are a little older.


Nannies provide childcare in your own home. They can look after children of any age and should provide fun and learning in a safe environment. Nannies can often work flexible hours and can be a suitable option if you work at times when other forms of childcare are not available.

What types of nanny are there?

Live in nannies

This type of nanny lives with the family they are working for, who provides them with food and a private bedroom in addition to their salary.

Daily nannies

This type of nanny comes to the family home each day. Baby sitting in the evenings might be arranged as part of the terms of employment, or for extra pay.

Nanny share

An arrangement whereby a nanny is shared by two families. If a nanny is shared by more than two families, they may be required to register as a childminder.


The law does not set a minimum age at which children can be left alone. But parents can be prosecuted for wilful neglect if they leave a child unsupervised 'in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health.'

Nor does the law state when young people can babysit. However, where a babysitter is under the age of 16, parents remain legally responsible to ensure that their child comes to no harm.

You must make sure that the young person you have asked is capable and will provide adequate care for your child. Therefore the NSPCC (link opens in new window) does not recommend asking anyone under 16 to look after a young child.


A creche provides occasional care for children under eight years of age.

Some creches are in permanent premises such as sports facilities or shopping centres and are limited to children of parents using the facility. The length of time the child spends in the creche will be restricted.

Other creches run on a temporary basis and are set up to care for children while their parents are involved in activities such as a conference or exhibition.

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