Formula Milk Guide

In this guide, we explore all the different types of milk available to infants in the UKLast month, we mentioned what a huge topic formula milk is. So, in this post, we thought we’d explore all the different types of milk available to infants in the UK.

As a rule of thumb, the best type of milk for your baby is breast milk, given in tandem with suitable Vitamin D supplement drops. We’ll write a separate post about the benefits of breast milk in due course. Suffice it to say, though, that breast milk is best and has an enormous number of health benefits to both mother and child, including many that simply can’t be achieved by formula milk. That said, there are many reasons why formula milk may be the only viable option and we’ll explore the different types available in our Formula Milk Guide below.

First, though, some words of warning. There are several types of milk that you should never give to your baby if they’re under 12 months old.

Milk Types to Avoid Giving Babies Under 1

  • Condensed milk a.k.a. ‘Evaporated milk’ should be avoided. This is milk (usually from cows) that has been thickened by evaporating off about 60% of the water. It is usually also sweetened by adding sugar and has a slightly darker colour than standard milk.
  • Dried milk a.k.a. ‘Powdered milk’ or ‘Milk powder’ should also be avoided. This is liquid milk that has been evaporated until it’s turned into dry powder.
  • Cow’s milk, goat’s milk and sheep’s milk should also not be given to babies under 12 months of age except when used in cooking and only then when it’s been pasteurised. After the age of 1 it’s OK to drink so long as it’s pasteurised.
  • Soya milk, Oat milk, Rice milk and Almond milk, along with other similar drinks described as ‘milks’, should be avoided by babies under one.
  • Rice drinks should also be avoided right up to the age of 5 due to the presence of arsenic.

What Types of Formula Milk Can Your Little One Drink?

A young boy feeds bottled formula milk to his siblingBaby and infant formula milk comes ready-made in liquid form or as a powder that needs to be carefully and hygienically made up. The liquid variety is usually the more expensive of the two and needs to be used sooner, due to its shorter shelf life. Whichever is used, labels should be carefully checked to ensure suitability for the age of the particular baby/infant in question.

Note too, that there are many kinds of formula milk and one could argue that many of them are simply attempts by manufacturers to introduce niche products that appeal to a particular market or situation. As you’ll see, however, according to the NHS, some of the suggested benefits have no compelling evidence to support them.

Parents can look out to see if any particular types or brands of formula milk disagree with the baby and consider switching if so. It’s wise in these cases to take advice from your Health Visitor or midwife.

  • First Infant Formula Milk, a.k.a. ‘First Milk’ is the first type formula milk that babies should be given unless otherwise directed by a GP or Health Visitor. If they’re not being given breast milk, your baby can drink this from birth right up until they are 12 months old. It can also be given while the baby is weaning onto solids (usually from 6 months of age). It’s based on cows’ milk and contains easy-to-digest proteins (casein and whey) along with all the vitamins and nutrients that your growing baby needs.
  • Goats’ Milk Formula is an alternative to cows’ milk-based formula and comes in several varieties, each with the same standards and nutritional values as the corresponding cows’ milk formula. It’s also suitable from birth. However, if a baby or infant is allergic to cows’ milk, they are just as likely to be allergic to goats’ milk formula due to the close similarity of the proteins involved.
  • Hungrier Baby Formula a.k.a. ‘Hungry Milk’ is, as the name suggests, marketed as suitable for hungrier babies and contains a higher proportion of casein protein. However, parents should ask their Health Visitor or midwife for advice before giving their infant this type of formula milk. They should also know that there is no compelling evidence that it has any benefits compared to the standard formula milk option.
  • Guidance on the different types of formula milkComfort Formula is another type of formula milk based on cows’ milk, but the milk proteins it contains are already partially broken down (partially hydrolysed). It is marketed as being easier for the infant to digest and, as such, a formula milk that will reduce the chance of constipation or colic. However, there is no evidence to back up such claims. It’s suitable from birth but parents should ask for advice from their Health Visitor or midwife before giving their baby this type of milk, and certainly not use it if their infant is allergic to cows’ milk.
  • Hypoallergenic Formula Milk should be used only under professional medical supervision but, when approved for use, is suitable from birth. This type of milk contains fully broken down (hydrolysed) milk proteins and helps when your baby is allergic to cows’ milk-based formula milk.
  • Anti-Reflux Formula a.k.a. ‘Staydown Milk’ is thicker than standard formula milk and is designed to prevent babies from bringing up their milk during or after feeds. It’s another type of formula milk that is deemed suitable from birth but only under the professional medical supervision of a Health Visitor, GP or midwife. It’s also critically important to follow instructions on how to make it up or, better still, speak to one of the aforementioned health professionals about it due to temperature and storage safety issues inherent in this particular type of formula.
  • Lactose-Free Formula is designed for use by babies who are lactose intolerant, although this is rare in babies. It should be used only under the medical supervision of a Health Visitor, midwife or GP.
  • Follow-on formula milk is suitable for babies aged 6 months or older (never less) although evidence suggests that babies are better off continuing with First Infant Formula Milk for the whole of the first year rather than switching to follow-on formula at 6 months. Ask your Health Visitor or midwife for advice if considering switching to follow-on formula and always read the label carefully.
  • Good Night Milk is another type of formula milk that’s available. Marketed as a milk just for bedtime, it contains cereal, but there is no evidence to suggest it has any benefits whatsoever over standard formulas. Certainly it should never be given to babies less than 6 months of age so, as with so many of these special formula milks, ask for advice from your Health Visitor or midwife before giving your infant this type of formula milk.
  • Soya Formula Milk is, in theory, suitable for babies aged 6 months or older. It may be marketed as an alternative to cows’ milk formula for those who have an allergy. However in reality, it should only be given to a baby or infant when prescribed by a Health Visitor or GP. That’s primarily because soya contains phytoestrogens, which mimic oestrogen, the female hormone. As such, there is a concern amongst medical professionals that the developing reproductive system in babies and young children could be adversely disrupted. Soya-based formula milk also contains glucose, a sugar that can potentially harm teeth.
  • Growing-Up Milk a.k.a. ‘Toddler Milk’ is marketed as being suitable for toddlers aged 1 year or older and as an alternative to whole cows’ milk. However, there is no proof to suggest that it has any benefits over cows’ milk, so parents are advised to seek advice from their Health Visitor if they’re considering giving it to their child.

Milk After 12 Months

  • We explain what milk children should drink after the age of 1From the age of 1: your baby can move onto drinking whole pasteurised cows’ milk as their main drink (or alternatively sheeps’ or goats’ milk so long as it’s also pasteurised) as part of a healthy, balanced diet. It should not be given to children before they’re one because it does not contain enough iron.
  • From the age of 2: they can switch to semi-skimmed cows’ milk if they’re a good eater, as part of an overall healthy, balanced diet.
  • Do not give children skimmed or 1% milk if they’re under the age of 5. It simply does not contain enough calories for their requirements.
  • Daily vitamin supplements are recommended from the age of 6 months up to the age of 5 although do not need to be taken during their younger period when they’re drinking the requisite amount of age-appropriate formula milk because that will already be fortified with the vitamins. Otherwise, though, vitamin A, C and D are available for children in drop form until they’re five.

Looking for Outstanding Nurseries & Pre-Schools near Willesden or North West London?

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenWe are Treetops Nursery in Willesden, London NW10, and offer outstanding childcare services for babies and children up to five. We’re open Monday to Friday, 51 weeks of the year. If you are looking for the best nurseries, pre-schools and childcare services near Willesden, Willesden Green, Harlesden or Kensal Green, please contact Treetops Nursery and we’ll be happy to tell you more, answer any questions and even show you/your child around. Please choose a button below to start the ball rolling, while a few nursery spaces remain:

Raising a Vegetarian Infant - Rough Guide

More and more parents are bringing up children as vegetariansMore and more parents are bringing up youngsters as vegetarians these days, so we thought we’d put together a rough guide to raising babies, toddlers and preschoolers as vegetarians. When doing so, certain considerations will need to be made, including ensuring that meals are nutritious, containing all the necessary food groups, vitamins and minerals needed by the very young.

Breast Milk

Babies will usually have breast milk or formula milk up until they are at least 6 months old. If they are only receiving breast milk, it’s recommended that they are given a suitable Vitamin D supplement, available as drops.

Vegetarian Formula Milk

There’s no need for Vitamin D supplements, though, with high quality, age-appropriate formula milk, as it’s already included. Formula-fed babies under six months should, of course, be receiving ‘First Milk’ (otherwise known as ‘First Infant Formula Milk’) and this contains everything they need during the first six months. It can be supplemented by solids once they start weaning, usually from the age of 6 months through to a year old.

Formula milk is available for vegetariansThe good news is that formula milk that’s suitable for vegetarians is available. Parents may ask their midwife or health professional for any recommendations in regard to types or brands, particularly if one formula milk disagrees with the baby. However, whichever brand and type is chosen, the formula milk must be formulated for the baby’s specific age. This is usually obvious on the product label.

Vegetarian formula milks are usually based on cow’s milk although many other alternatives are available. Parents who wish to limit how much dairy products their infant consumes therefore have quite a wide choice but, if they’re avoiding dairy, they need to ensure that the formula milk is fortified with extra calcium and is unsweetened. They also need to read up because formula milk is a surprisingly big topic and can be a little bit of a minefield. There are several concerns over soya milk and rice milk, for instance, but those are just two examples. Check out our Formula Milk Guide for much more information about all the different kinds available as well as which formula milks to avoid.

Moving to Solids

There are four main food groups that need to be covered in a child's dietFrom around the age of 6 months, your baby will usually start the process of weaning off of milk and begin to eat solid foods, albeit given in puréed or liquidised form initially. This is when parents then need to be mindful of their child’s nutritional needs and this is even more pertinent when bringing up a child as a vegetarian.

The four main food groups that need to be covered are:

  • Starch, which can come from foods like pasta, cereal, potato and bread;
  • Fruit and vegetables, whether fresh (ideally), tinned, frozen or dried;
  • Protein, which we’ll come to in a moment;
  • Dairy, which is OK for most vegetarians but not vegans. Dairy products need to be pasteurised, though, and full-fat versions are appropriate for little ones.

Sources of Protein for Vegetarian Children

Protein is often seen to be the most tricky of the food groups to cater for when bringing up a child as a vegetarian. With meat and even fish out of the picture for avid vegetarians, what options are available?

  • Many fruits and berries are great sources of Vitamin CWell, tofu and other soya products will contain good quantities of protein.
  • Nuts will too but you need to avoid whole nuts due to the potential choking hazard. So, smooth peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter or seed butters will help with protein. Walnut butter is a wonderful source of Omega-3 too.
  • Perhaps consider serving them on rye crackers.
  • Indeed grains are high in protein but should be provided in ground form for babies to avoid choking. Similarly oats, barley, rice and quinoa are great protein sources, quinoa itself containing all 9 of the essential amino acids.
  • Lentils, pulses, peas and beans are also great sources of protein.
  • Houmous (based on chickpeas) is also great for protein but, again, keep it smooth to avoid choking hazards in the very young.
  • For those not going the more strict vegan route, eggs and dairy products like cheese and yoghurt are good sources of protein. Eggs are a brilliant source of Vitamin B12 too, while dairy products are a great source of calcium and Vitamin D.

Your infant should have at least two portions a day of protein and these are essential in the absence of meat or fish, otherwise your child could miss out on not only the protein but also Omega-3 fatty acids, iron and amino acids (essential and non-essential varieties). So, protein from a variety of sources is advised.

What About Quorn?

Many vegetarian parents will eat Quorn (a popular mycoprotein) to replace meat. Is this any good for babies and infants?

While it is a great source of protein, it’s not recommended as a regularly eaten meat alternative for children under three because it can fill them up without giving them the necessary energy. That’s simply because it’s high in fibre but low in fat.

A Note About Iron

Some foods block the absorption of iron but there are ways to counteract that, including eating foods rich in Vitamin CIron is essential for growing children and can be found in many of the foods mentioned above. That said, it’s worth mentioning that some foods block the absorption of iron. Such foods include tea as well as whole grains and legumes containing ‘phytates’, dairy products containing ‘casein’ and eggs and dairy products that contain particular forms of calcium. The simple solution to many of these is as follows:

  • a) ensure the child has a varied diet,
  • b) for them to eat such foods away from main meals,
  • c) to include Vitamin C in the diet (as it will counteract the affect of phytates by binding to them) and
  • d) to soak, cook or sprout the grains, pulses or seeds.

In regard to giving Vitamin C to help increase absorption of iron, children can try satsumas, oranges or tangerines after meals, a drink of well-diluted fruit juice (e.g. 1 part fruit juice to 10 parts water) or to include vegetables and fruit high in Vitamin C as part of their meals. These include many fruits and berries plus many vegetables including asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, spinach, leafy greens, green or red peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and squash.

Vitamin Supplements

Age-appropriate vitamin drops may give parents peace of mind if their children are being brought up on a vegetarian diet. In fact, some parents on one or more specific benefits can receive free vitamin drops for children aged up to 4. These contain Vitamins A, C and D are suitable for vegetarians, also containing no milk or eggs. Note, however, that vitamin supplements are not required for children drinking the appropriate amount of nutritionally complete, age-appropriate formula milk each day.

We hope that this rough guide to raising an infant as a vegetarian is useful. It should only be used as a quick, introductory guide, though, so parents should do further research to get a more complete picture. It is also always wise, of course, to ask a health professional, GP or Health Visitor for their opinion on anything health-related for their individual child.

An Outstanding Nursery in Willesden

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenTreetops Nursery offers the highest quality, freshly-prepared food using the very best ingredients available to our in-house chef each day. Children’s dietary requirements are all catered for and that includes those on a vegetarian diet. This is all part of the excellent weekday childcare services and healthy approach to nutrition provided at our nursery and pre-school. We cater for babies and children aged up to five.

If you are looking for an outstanding nursery, pre-school or childcare service in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Harlesden, Kensal Green or London NW10, please contact us by selecting a button below. We’d love to hear from you and to show you and your child around the nursery, so you can see for yourself what an excellent setting it is and how well your child will fit in. Please make contact as soon as possible to avoid disappointment, while a few places remain available:

Screen Time for Kids – The Benefits & Potential Pitfalls

Every parent knows that children love playing on handheld devices like mobile phones and tablets, as well as using computers and watching TV. To the very young, all these screens open up a magical world connecting them directly to colourful images, videos, music, sound and games. These can be almost addictive in their entertainment value for young children. However, is that a good thing?

When children are very young, they are at the pinnacle of their ability to be able to hoover up and absorb information and knowledge about the world. This makes them even more susceptible to being stimulated by the almost limitless array of entertaining content that electronic screens offer. So, surely giving them access to such screens is a good thing? Well … in moderation and with access to the right content it’s potentially hugely beneficial. However, there are compelling reasons why little ones’ access to electronic screens should be strictly managed. With that in mind, we’ll take a closer look at the topic to help parents make more informed decisions about how much time they allow their children to spend using mobile phones, tablets and computers, and watching TV.

Electronic Screens Teach Kids Stuff, Don’t They?

Toddlers and young children can have fun with handheld tablets & phones, while learning at the same timeOf course, that can be the case. What’s more, such handheld screens are a great way for parents to keep children entertained when perhaps they need to get on with other things. Electronic handheld devices also teach children about technology and introduce them to IT; essential skills for them to master in this day and age. Even games can be educational, with some designed to improve children’s numeracy etc. while at the same time being enormous fun. The key, though, is for parents to ensure that children are looking at the right content and not for extended periods of time. Ideally, it should be content that’s informative — i.e. content that will teach them something new, introduce them to new topics and allow them to make discoveries that will educate them. So, the content needs to be chosen and curated by parents — not the child.

Parents will need to bear in mind, though, that the content also needs to be fun and entertaining. Children will not watch for long, nor learn anything, if the viewing material chosen by parents is stuffy and boring, so a fine balance needs to be struck so that the child gets the most benefit, particularly from an educational perspective.

Dangerous Content, Screen Hours & Parental Control

At the same time, though, bad content must be out of children’s reach at all times. There are many dangerous and disturbing things on the Internet at all times of the day. There are even some on TV that are totally unsuited to young children, particularly after the 9pm watershed. So, parents must stringently vet what their children are watching and hearing on the Internet (especially), as well as on TV. As we said before …

Parents need to be in control of content choices, not the child.

Parents need to control what children view and listen to on handheld screens and on TV - not the children.There are some tools available to help parents accomplish this. While we don’t endorse any particular online safety application over any other, applications like Norton Family is a good example of one application that offers tools to help parents teach “safe, smart, and healthy online habits” to their children. And it certainly seemed to tick all the right boxes in a limited test that we undertook. Their ‘Parental Controls’ allow parents to be informed about sites their children are visiting and to block unsuitable ones completely. Android apps can also be controlled or blocked — useful if children attempt to use inappropriate apps or begin to get hooked on mindless games — or worse. The parental controls even allow parents to lock devices remotely, so children can’t use them should the parent feel their children have already had too much screen time.

Parents can also pre-set screen time limits and schedules for each day for each device their child is likely to use. This combination will help children to focus on what they should be focusing on, for example homework and useful learning materials, whilst keeping them from straying into dangerous online territory. The scheduling feature is also very useful to ensure children don’t spend too long staring at an electronic screen on any given day, perhaps at the expense of physical exercise or active play.

Of course, parents should also directly involve themselves in what their children are watching or interacting with on handhelds and TVs. After all, even the most clever app is unlikely to ever fully match the control possible through accompanied viewing from an adult.

Inactivity vs. Exercise

It goes almost without saying that regular extended periods of inactivity are not good for health and fitness. In our previous article Early Years Exercise & Why it’s Essential, we went into great detail about how exercise and active play is critically important to all humans, but especially in the early years. At that age group, it has been proven to not only help in the avoidance of some serious health issues like strokes, cancer and cardiovascular disease, but also to help children achieve better grades, improve cognitive performance and experience a whole raft of additional benefits. Those are incredibly important reasons why screen time should be limited and not allowed to replace active play and exercise. Click the bold green link above for full details.

Additional Health Concerns for Handheld Devices

There are real medical and scientific concerns over exposure to RF wireless radiationHundreds of scientist and medical professionals around the world are convinced that handheld devices like mobile phones and tablets are potentially harmful to humans, especially unborn children, when connected to Wi-Fi. They say that this is due to the ‘RF wireless radiation’ that the devices emit when connected to the web (etc.). What’s more, they appear to have some compelling science and research to back up their claims.

Some of the professionals concerned are involved in The Baby Safe Project, which aims to warn pregnant women and parents about the potential risks to health associated with wireless radiation used in handheld devices like mobile phones and tablets. As these risks may extend to harming unborn children, it’s a serious concern for pregnant women and parents to consider. Learn more about the possible risks of RF wireless radiation and ways to mitigate them here.

Technology for Little Ones at Treetops Nursery, Willesden

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenAt Treetops Nursery in Willesden we understand both the value and potential pitfalls of technology when used by little ones, so ensure we get the balance just right. Technology is great for education when used correctly and indeed is included as an area of early years education within the ‘Understanding the World’ element of the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum at the nursery. However, staff at the setting fully understand that any screen time needs to be limited and, of course, the type of material being viewed is stringently controlled.

Please do get in touch if you are interested in a potential nursery place for your child at Treetops Nursery in Willesden. The childcare setting is also near to Harlesden, Willesden Green and Kensal Green in the London NW10 area, so may also suit parents who live or work in those locations. Please select a contact method from the buttons below to get started.

 

Brushing Children's Teeth – A Guide for Parents

As promised in our Guide to Teething last month, this next guide is all about brushing teeth — specifically for for babies, toddlers and young children. Regular brushing of teeth is an essential habit for young children to get into. Doing so will protect their teeth and oral health as they grow older.

Studies suggest that brushing teeth twice a day, for at least 2 minutes, may even reduce the risk of poor heart health.

When Should You Start Brushing Children’s Teeth?

Babies' teeth should be brushed as soon as they first appear through the gumsParents, guardians or carers should start brushing children’s teeth the moment teeth first appear, even when it’s only one or two teeth initially showing through. This is typically around the age of six to ten months when, for most babies, the lower incisors are first to appear. It varies enormously, though, with some babies even being born with one or more teeth. For teething babies, of course, you need to be more gentle with brushing than you would be for an older child, because their gums will probably be sore. Hence, there are some guidelines to follow in that regard. That’s exactly where this article comes in as we explain the accepted best practice for brushing infant teeth.

How Much Toothpaste Should Babies, Toddlers & Children Use?

Check toothpaste labels carefully to ensure you are using the right toothpaste.

Toothpaste containing at least 1,000 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride or ‘family toothpaste’ containing 1,350 to 1,500ppm is suitable for babies and children up to 6 years of age.

  • For babies and children up to 3 years old, use just a smear.
  • For children between 3 and 6 years old, use a pea-sized amount on the brush.

Children 7 years old or more should also use a pea-sized amount, using toothpaste containing 1,350 to 1,500ppm of fluoride.

What’s the Best Way to Brush a Baby’s Teeth?

The NHS suggests that parents sit the baby on their lap, facing away from them towards a mirror (this is so that the child can learn from what the parent is showing them). The baby’s head can rest against you so that it’s kept stable during brushing.

Using the recommended toothpaste suggested in the section above, parents can apply just a smear of toothpaste to either a small tooth brush, finger brush or piece of clean gauze wrapped around a finger (whichever suits best). Then, this can be applied to the baby’s teeth using small, gentle, circular motions to both teeth and surrounding gums.

The baby will soon learn from watching this and will, in time, begin to try it themselves. The parent can help by guiding the child’s hand when this occurs.

As only a smear of toothpaste has been used, the baby does not need to spit it out and indeed, not rinsing will protect the teeth even further.

What About Teeth Brushing for Children Over 3?

Ensure that children find brushing teeth a fun activityThe same general approach can be used for children aged 3 or over, except toddlers may stand, so long as their head can still rest against you so that it’s kept stable and relatively still while brushing takes place. As mentioned in the preceding section, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste can be used for this age group.

The child can spit out superfluous foam after brushing, but does not need to rinse. As before, this is because retaining a covering of fluoride will continue to protect the teeth for longer.

From the age of about 7, children will generally be capable of brushing their teeth themselves, unaided.

Tips to Protect Children’s Teeth from Decay

There are many tips around keeping children's teeth safe from decayAs well as regular brushing of teeth and dentist check-ups, there are many additional measures that can protect children’s teeth. These really all come down to one thing; avoiding added sugar. So …

  • Check ingredients of what your baby or child is eating and drinking. Avoid anything that has added sugars, including baby foods.
  • There are many kinds of sugar so check labels carefully. Sugar can come in many forms including raw, cane or brown sugar, glucose, dextrose, sucrose, maltose, fructose, molasses, hydrolysed starch, inverted sugar syrup and Muscovado sugar, to name just a few.
  • Avoid sugary drinks. Young children should stick mainly to water or milk. While milk does contain an element of natural sugar, it’s less likely to cause harm to teeth than man-made or added sugars.
  • If you give little ones fruit juice, dilute it. 10 part of water to 1 part of pure fruit juice is a good ratio.
  • Limit fruit juice intake to 150ml per day maximum if you do not dilute it, making up the rest of their daily drink intake with milk and/or water.
  • Children’s teeth should be brushed ideally immediately after eating or drinking anything sugary. This is to remove sugar and avoid build-up of plaque. In the case of fruit juice, brushing after drinking will remove acid found in the juice, as this can otherwise also harm teeth.
  • Avoid giving children sweets and biscuits except, perhaps, for very occasional special treats. Otherwise they’ll get a ‘sweet tooth’ and it could become a habit, potentially harming their teeth and health.
  • Consider sugar-free medicines if you do need to give your child medicine at any point.
  • Free-flowing, open drinking vessels such as beakers are less likely to ‘bathe’ teeth in sugary drink compared to bottles or valved bottles, thereby reducing the possibility of tooth decay. Learn more about those in the ‘Health & Safety First’ section below.

When Should Children Start Going to the Dentist?

Children should regularly visit the dentist for check-ups, so it’s a good idea to start them early, so that it becomes a normal routine. Children need to appreciate that teeth brushing is important to teeth, oral hygiene and potentially to overall health. Visiting the dentist is recommended in case there is a problem of some kind and also to highlight whether teeth are being brushed optimally at home. If not, a good dentist will be able to point children and parents in the right direction.

It’s important for a dentist visit to be a pleasant, stress-free experience, so be sure to hide any anxiety you may have about dentists as a parent, otherwise this anxiety can be passed onto the child going forwards.

Health & Safety First!

Getting children used to brushing teeth twice a day in their early years sets up a good habit as they grow upThe more obvious additional health and safety concerns include the following:

  • For their own safety, babies and little ones need to be supervised at all times when brushing teeth.
  • In the interests of safety, children must never be allowed to play with toothbrushes or toothpaste nor to run around with them (particularly in their mouths!).
  • Do not allow babies or children to eat of swallow toothpaste, nor to lick the tube.
  • Once babies start to phase out bottled milk (usually weaning off them from the age of around 6 months), bottles with ‘no-spill’ valves and spouted drinking cups and ‘sippy cups’ should be avoided, according to many dentists, orthodontists, speech therapists and healthcare professionals. This is to avoid a whole raft of potential problems including crooked teeth, tooth decay and potential speech issues.

“As oral health professionals at GOSH, we encourage children to move to an open cup as soon as possible to reduce the risk of dental [cavities] which are often connected to bottles or ‘sippy’ cups.” (Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children).

Clean Teeth for Healthy Kids

Keeping children’s teeth clean and free of plaque will help to keep teeth, gums and oral health in good shape. Starting early will also encourage kids to get into a good teeth cleaning habit from a young age and be more likely to carry that on into adulthood. Children with good teeth, healthy gums and fresher breath will generally feel more good about themselves, boosting self-confidence and self-image. Amazingly, recent studies even suggest that brushing teeth twice a day, for at least 2 minutes, may even reduce the risk of poor heart health.1

Our Nursery in Willesden, near Harlesden & Kensal Green

Treetops Nursery, WillesdenThis guide was brought to you by the childcare team at Treetops Nursery in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Kensal Green and Harlesden. If you’re looking for nurseries in those areas, around London NW10, we’d love to show you and your little one around so that you can see the setting in action for yourselves. To learn more about a possible place for your child, contact us using your preferred method below, while spaces are available:

Kids Say The Cutest Things: 12 adorable quotes by children & toddlers

Every parent, guardian or childcare professional knows that children can come out with the most surprising comments, when least expected. Sometimes they’re hilarious, other times they’re astoundingly astute for such a young age, and other times what they say is simply adorable. Here are a dozen of our favourite preschooler quotes that fit straight into the cute category. Take a look …

Please feel free to bookmark this page, share it on social media or link out to the individual quotes — this incredible cuteness can’t be kept secret!

 

Looking for Nursery Places for a Baby or Child in Willesden, NW10?

If you are looking for a nursery place for your baby, toddler or child in Willesden, London NW10, we can help. Treetops Nursery is one of the best nurseries in the Willesden, Willesden Green, Kensal Green and Harlesden areas of London NW10. We’d be delighted to discuss a place for your child and to tell you all about the nursery/pre-school. If you’d like to learn more and perhaps come and see the setting in action, contact us using one of the buttons below while spaces are still available:

A Complete Guide to Teething

Babies can get tearful when teethingIn this, the first of two new posts relating to the very youngest of children, we’re looking at teething, including when it usually happens and what to do about it as a parent or carer. Teething can be stressful for parents and a painful time for babies, so it’s important to read the signs correctly and act accordingly.

Teeth in Humans

Let’s start at the beginning. Humans usually have two sets of teeth during their lives:

  • First, children get their Milk Teeth at a very early age (more details follow below). These are also sometimes referred to as Baby Teeth, Primary Teeth or Deciduous Teeth. We’ll stick with Milk Teeth for the purpose of this article.
  • Later, on average by the age of twelve, come the more permanent adult teeth. These are known as the Permanent Teeth or Secondary Teeth. We’ll refer to them simply as adult teeth in this article.

Fun fact: some reptiles grow thousands of new teeth in their lifetimes. Not so for humans, though!

Apart from their two sets of teeth, humans do not ‘grow’ further teeth as they are lost or fall out. This is common to most mammals.

Milk Teeth

The lower central incisors appear firstMost babies are born with no teeth showing at all. However, there are exceptions and it’s reasonably common to be born with one or more milk teeth already visible. In total, babies will have a total of 20 milk teeth; 10 in the upper jaw and 10 in the lower. These are already there at birth as they will have grown during the embryonic stage. However, they are hidden within the gums in most cases.

Teething

On average, babies’ teeth start to ‘erupt’ (protrude through the gums) at the age of about 6 months. The process of erupting is known as teething. The order of appearance of milk teeth usually goes something like this:

Age c. 6-10 monthsThe lower central incisors appear
Age c. 8-12 monthsThe upper central incisors appear
Age c. 9-13 monthsThe top lateral incisors appear
Age c. 10-16 monthsThe bottom lateral incisors appear
Age c. 13-19 monthsThe 1st upper molars appear
Age c. 14-18 monthsThe 1st lower molars appear
Age c. 16-22 monthsThe upper canines appear
Age c. 17-23 monthsThe lower canines appear
Age c. 23-31 monthsThe lower 2nd molars appear
Age c. 25-33 monthsThe upper 2nd molars appear

The milk teeth have usually all appeared through the gums by the age of 2½ to 3 although, as with everything, some cases may differ.

Teething lasts for about 8 days for each of the teeth erupting. Half of that is before the tooth appears and the other half is once it’s first appeared through the gum. In between, a bluey-grey colouration may be visible on the gum where the tooth is about to erupt. This is known as an ‘eruption cyst’ and is quite normal, usually disappearing on its own. As the largest of the teeth, molars tend to cause the most discomfort for babies/toddlers when coming through.

Symptoms of Teething

Babies often chew their hands when teethingTeething can cause babies pain and discomfort during the 8 days in which each tooth moves from under the gum to erupting through it. Apart from the obvious signs of the tooth erupting and perhaps a bluey-grey eruption cyst colouration in the gums, symptoms of teething include:

  • drooling (dribbling);
  • sore-looking gums where teeth are moving to the surface;
  • possible flushing of the cheeks;
  • a tendency for the baby to chew things more than usual (including biting their own hands, toys etc.);
  • the baby may also rub their ears;
  • the baby might be more tearful than usual.

If you are at all concerned about the health and wellbeing of your child, consult a doctor or call the NHS on 111

How to Help Babies Through Teething

Games can help to distract babies & toddlers from discomfort caused by teethingThere are a number of ways parents and carers can help babies and toddlers through their teething. One or more of the following may help:

  • Teething rings are available commercially and little ones may find some comfort from chewing on them. At the very minimum, they will distract from any pain and discomfort. Some may suggest cooling the rings in the fridge (never the freezer) but it’s important to follow instructions and keep safety considerations to the fore at all times — for example never tie a teething ring around a child’s neck.
  • Once they reach the age of 6 months or more, try giving them healthy fruit like apple or carrot pieces to chew on. The NHS also suggests breadsticks and crusts of bread but they should only chew any of these things under close adult supervision, to ensure that they are staying safe and not choking.
  • Distraction can also be a useful tactic, so playing with your baby/toddler or comforting them will help.
  • Using a clean finger, gently massaging their gums can also be of some comfort.
  • Also ensure that you wipe your child’s face if they have been drooling. This will help to prevent rashes and soreness.

An Important Word About Teething Gels

Babies often chew toys when they're teethingAccording to the NHS, there is no evidence that commercially-available teething gels (including homeopathic ones) are effective, so they recommend that non-medical options like those above should be tried first.

However, they say that should parents/carers decide to try teething gels anyway, they should ensure that they are specifically made for young children and are licensed for use in the UK. Teething gels should really be purchased through pharmacies (ideally not the Internet*), who may be able to give further advice. The NHS also states that, “General oral pain relief gels are not suitable for children”.

* The NHS states that:

“Some unlicensed homeopathic gels advertised on the internet have been linked to serious side effects.”

More information on the NHS warnings is available here.

Teeth Brushing & Registering with a Dentist

As soon as the first tooth has come through, parents or carers should begin to the process of regularly brushing and should also register the child with a local dentist. It is quite a big topic in itself, so we have written a separate guide all about brushing children’s teeth (here).

Shedding Milk Teeth

The front central incisors are usually the first milk teeth to fall outWhen the time is right (usually by the age of 6) the milk teeth will start to shed. Normally, this is done in a particular order: first the two lower front teeth and the two upper front teeth will fall out (these are called the central incisors). Next to fall are the lateral incisors, then the first molars, the canines and finally the second molars.

By the age of twelve, most people will have shed all of their milk teeth although some people retain one or more right into adulthood (usually a molar if so). Adults have a total of 32 adult teeth, comprising 8 incisors, 4 canines, 8 premolars and 12 molars (4 of which are the Wisdom Teeth). Each of these has a particular shape and function, although we’ll not delve further in view this article is primarily about infant teeth. It’s worth noting, however, that adult teeth are less white than milk teeth as they have thicker enamel and the ‘dentin’ layer beneath it is yellow in colour.

We hope this guide to teething has been useful to you and look forward to following up with more articles and guides in the near future. Perhaps bookmark this article or our main blog page and feel free to share on social media (share buttons can be found below this article).

Searching for Nurseries in Willesden, Willesden Green, Kensal Green, Harlesden, or NW10?

If you are looking for nurseries in Willesden, or near Willesden Green, Kensal Green or Harlesden around the London NW10 area, we might be able to help. Treetops Nursery offers high quality childcare for babies, toddlers and under-fives in Doyle Gardens in Willesden, London NW10. We’ll be happy to discuss a nursery place for your baby or child while a few places are still available. Please choose a contact method below if this is of interest:

Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep?

A good night’s sleep is essential for all of us. Without it, we struggle in the following days and are sure to perform less than optimally.

There are many adverse effects of too little sleepThe Adverse Effects of Too Little Sleep

The adverse effects of a poor night’s sleep are even more pronounced for under-fives and babies. As well as simply being tired, they can become emotional, grumpy, uncooperative and stressed. They might even be inclined to throw tantrums and to become a real danger to themselves. The distress they are feeling through lack of sleep is clear to see, even if they themselves don’t understand why they are feeling the way they do.

What’s also obvious is that they won’t be able to learn as effectively as they might otherwise have done. Attention spans, cognitive function, memory skills and levels of alertness are all known to suffer after a poor night’s sleep.

If poor sleep becomes a regular occurrence, there are also longer-term health risks that could become real concerns. Blood pressure, diabetes, weight, mental health and the release of natural growth and repair hormones can all suffer if children have regular sleep deficiency. So, sleep is incredibly important.

How Much Sleep do Children Need?

Babies and young children need far more sleep than adults. According to The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, they require the following:

Child’s AgeSleep Required (Per 24 Hours Including Naps)
4 months to 1 year of age12-16 hours
1 to 2 years of age11-14 hours
3 to 5 years of age10-13 hours

How to help your child get to sleepYou can see that they require a little less sleep as they grow progressively older.

How to Help Your Child Sleep Well

There are many reasons why babies and children may have trouble sleeping, but there’s quite a bit parents or carers can do to help. Here are some ideas that may help them to fall asleep and then to stay sleeping soundly. This is part of a wider approach to what’s known as Sleep Hygiene, which is the entire approach to bedtime, including the lead up to it.

Sleep Hygiene

One of the most effective ways any parent can help a child receive the right quality and quantity of sleep is to maintain a set routine around bedtime. If set times and rules are in place and always adhered to, then going to sleep at the right time will become virtually automatic. Children will physiologically and mentally adapt and then expect it, becoming tired and ready to sleep around the ‘right’ time. They will also be less inclined to ‘fight’ the rules when they have learned that they’re not negotiable. With some children it may take a while to get to this point, of course — but the bigger ‘sleep hygiene’ approach will ultimately help.

Winding Down Before Bedtime

A winding-down regime can be very useful to get very young children in the right mindset for bedtime. A warm bath or shower can be part of this, as can dimmed lights and perhaps a short bedtime story.

A quiet, comfortable bedroom set-up is neededA Peaceful, Quiet, Bedroom Set-up

The baby or child’s bedroom also needs to have the right set-up. They need to be comfortable and located in a quiet part of the house. Having them just a touch cool will also encourage the child to nestle down in the warmth of their bed. Often a favourite cuddly toy will also give them some comfort and the feeling of security.

A low level of lighting before bedtime is also a great idea. Once it’s time to sleep, total darkness is healthy for sleep although some children may sleep better when they can see the faint glimmer of a nightlight.

Distractions like nearby toys should be avoided, otherwise there’s a risk that the infant might begin to associate bedtime with playtime.

Avoid Stimulants

Handheld screens & TVs are not good for sleepStimulants should be avoided before bedtime. Drinks containing caffeine will keep children awake, so none should be given any time after lunch time, ideally. Caffeine can be found in some fizzy drinks and energy drinks, as well as in tea and coffee. Warm milk, in contrast, will be non-stimulating and actually quite soothing. Be careful not to give drinks too close to bedtime, though, and remember to get the child to visit the loo before going to bed, otherwise they may need to wake up in the night to pay a visit.

Screens also stimulate the brain. So, handheld devices like mobile phones and tablets, as well as TVs, should not be available to the child several hours before bedtime. Their blue light, in particular, will not be conducive to sleeping, due to its stimulating affect on the brain. (You can learn more about the possible health risks associated with giving children access to handheld screens in our enlightening post for our sister nursery over in Birmingham).

It’s useful to avoid vigorous exercise or play too close to bedtime. While exercise during the daytime, particularly in the fresh air, can help young children sleep later on, doing it too close to bedtime may simply awaken their brains and have the opposite effect.

Large meals close to bedtime can also have a detrimental affect on children’s sleep, so ensure that mealtimes are sufficiently early.

Avoid allowing children to get into bad habitsChildren Visiting in the Night

Many parents have experienced their child waking up in the night and coming into their bedroom for comfort. This must not be allowed to turn into a habit. Parents of children attempting to make this a regular occurrence should quietly — and without fuss — lead the child back to their bed and settle them in. Caving in to repeated attempts to end up in the parents’ bedroom (or even bed) will only lead to a bad habit forming. Such a habit would be detrimental to the sleep pattern of all concerned.

Sleeping at Treetops Nursery, Willesden

At Treetops Nursery, we’re well aware of the need for babies and children to get sufficient, high quality, sleep. For this reason, the children have a couple of sleeping sessions each day. From about 9:30am babies usually sleep for between half an hour and an hour. Then, between 12 noon and 3pm, there’s another sleeping session. The older pre-school children are given the choice whether to sleep or not during this time. Parents are encouraged to let us know if there are particular sleep patterns that they’d like us to follow for their baby or child. Every child is different, so we’re totally flexible.

A Nursery Place for Your Child in Willesden, London NW16

If you are looking for an outstanding nursery near Willesden Green, Harlesden and Kensal Green, we can help. Treetops Nursery is located in Doyle Gardens in Willesden, NW10. For further information …

Microgreens: fun, nutritious, food growing for little ones

There are now microgreen farmsThere is one class of edible plant that can be grown all year round and is perfect for kids to grow indoors, for example on a windowsill. Some types of this food will sprout in as little as a week. What’s more, it’s tasty and highly nutritious. Growing it is super-easy and a perfect way to keep kids entertained, educated about nature and eating healthily. It’ll also be a welcome addition to mealtimes for the whole household.

Growing Microgreens

We’re talking about Microgreens (also referred to as micro leaves). These are the early, edible, sprouting leaves of very young herbs, leafy greens and some root vegetables that might usually be thought of in a larger, more mature form. The tender new leaves are cut just days after they first sprout and can be made into wonderful salads, garnishes or meal accompaniments. They also bring some very tasty flavours to mealtimes. The young micro leaves are full of vitamins and minerals, look fantastic on the plate and will grow back time and time again after snipping. The secret is simply to harvest the immature micro leaves and to stop them from growing to full size. Just harvest … re-harvest … and re-harvest.

“Micro leaves are usually eaten fresh and raw, and the fresher the leaves are, the more vitamins and minerals they contain. Each little leaf is a gold mine of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals such as iron, folic acid and potassium.” (Gardeners World)

Various microgreen leaves sproutingHere are just a few examples of plants that make suitable microgreens and can easily be grown by children indoors:

  • Basil — their tasty baby leaves are full of flavour and can be harvested just ten days after seed planting. They’re wonderful on salads, pizzas and can even be made into pesto sauce.
  • Coriander — their tiny, delicate leaves pack a unique and punchy flavour that’s perfect with salads, stir-fries, chopped onions and curries. They can be harvested a couple of weeks after sowing the seeds.
  • Rocket — ready to harvest just a week after first sowing, rocket microgreens are another flavoursome and slightly peppery leaf to add to salads and put onto pizzas. Very tasty!
  • Mustard leaves — these may not be to every child’s taste, but many adults will enjoy the slight heat they’ll bring to salads, stir fries and Eastern dishes. Ready to first harvest in 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Salad with microgreensFennel — just 10 days after first sprouting, leaves from young fennel seedlings will give a pleasant aniseed tang to dishes like pasta salads, risottos, soups and even stuffing.
  • Beetroot leaves — the sprouting microgreen leaves from the beetroot take just ten days to appear after sowing. With their rich green leaves and red stems, they look wonderful in salads and lend their mild, earthy flavour to garnishes for some fish dishes.
  • Radish leaves — in just a week, the young, fiery leaves from the radish seedlings will be ready to snip and add to salads, stir fries and sandwiches. For some, their microgreen leaves are even tastier than the traditional root.
  • Spinach — tender leaves from young spinach plants can be harvested in ten days or so. They’re really good for you too. With their mild flavour, they’re a perfect addition to leafy salads, risottos, pastas and noodles.
  • Broccoli leaves — these will be ready to first harvest in just a week and have quite a different flavour than their fully-grown counterpart. With their slightly spicy taste, they’re also great in salads, risottos and omelettes.
  • Red cabbage microgreens are packed with nutrientsRed Cabbage micro leaves have one of the highest Vitamin C concentrations of any microgreen. They also contain Vitamin K, potassium, beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium and antioxidants. As with many of the microgreens, many top chefs use them as an attractive and tasty garnish. They can be sprinkled over soups, salads, grilled vegetables, stews and cooked meats. After sowing, they take only days to appear.

How children can grow microgreens at home

Your children will need very little to get started. You’ll need to buy them some packet seeds, which you can get at your local garden nursery or online. If you’re unsure who to order from online, Suttons are probably the best-known supplier and seed packets there seem to start from as little as just a pound or two. You can also find mixed seed packets. (If you’re on a really tight budget, you can alternatively take a look at the excellent post about growing food virtually free of cost, by our sister nursery in Streatham).

Along with the seeds, your child will need some multi-purpose or seed and cuttings compost (peat-free is more eco-friendly) and something to sow the seeds in. If you’re going to grow the microgreens on the windowsill, you could use flower pots, slim seed trays (perhaps left over from plants or herbs you have previously bought), containers, yoghurt pots with drainage holes pierced underneath, egg cartons, or even the cardboard cores from used kitchen rolls, cut down to a suitable size. Any of these will need something to sit in, to catch any draining water, for example a saucer or seed ‘drip tray’.

Lemonbalm micro leaves sprouting in compostYour child will need to fill the chosen containers with compost, not quite to the top. Tap it to level the soil, then pat it down just a little to firm it. Some gardeners also indent the compost where the seeds will go. The seeds then need to be carefully placed or lightly sprinkled into the indented areas. It’s important that your child spaces the seeds out so there is no clumping, otherwise significant problems can occur (the crop might get diseased or even completely fail). The seeds don’t need to be covered but a light dusting of sieved compost will keep them in place while allowing light to get through. The seeds then need to be lightly watered. It’s best for your child to do this part outside, just to avoid potential mess indoors, taking care not to over-water nor to wash the seeds away. A way to water them indoors is to simply stand the vessels in some shallow water for 30 to 60 minutes, so the compost naturally draws up the moisture.

The rest is also very easy. Your child simply needs to place the potted seeds on a light windowsill and ensure that the compost is always kept damp, taking care not to over-water. Also consider a label for each pot for identification purposes, particularly if several different seed types have been planted. Some people cover the seed pots or trays with a single sheet of kitchen towel, newspaper or even cling film to keep the moisture in while the seeds initially germinate. Your child will need to check under the covering every day. The moment little shoots can be seen, the covering will need to be removed, so long as the soil is kept moist thereafter, so it never dries out. Ensure the potted plants get full light and ventilation too. Within a week or two depending on the seeds chosen, the young shoots will grow baby leaves and can then be harvested. Snip them near their bases before mature leaves start to replace the baby leaves. If you want to benefit from them for longer, snip them like this rather than pulling up their roots, so they can sprout and re-sprout time and time again.

Eat & enjoy!

A sandwich with microgreens as a garnishOnce rinsed, the tender young micro leaves can be enjoyed in meals by the whole family. They’ll add often exquisite tastes and textures to meals as well as adding much-needed vitamins and minerals to the family diet. That’s even more important for growing toddlers and preschoolers, of course. And, throughout the growing journey, the children will absolutely love seeing the new shoots grow into young plants. They will have learnt new skills, had great fun getting to know more about nature and have a real sense of achievement. Chances are, too, that they will love the taste of the micro leaves.

Treetops Nursery in Willesden

We hope you and your family enjoyed this article and will have fun growing your very own microgreens. The post was brought to you by Treetops Day Nursery in Willesden, London NW10. We are a childcare nursery and pre-school, suitable for babies from 6 months and children up to 5 years of age. We’re also convenient for parents and carers who are looking for high quality weekday childcare near Willesden Green, Harlesden, Brent, Kensal Green, Brondesbury Park, Kilburn, Mapesbury, Dollis Hill, Church End, Roundwood, College Park and Park Royal. Please do get in touch if you’d like to learn more about a possible nursery place for your child.

For further details, contact Treetops Nursery:

FREE childcare funding for 3 & 4-year-olds: A complete guide

In our last post, we published a complete guide to free childcare for 2-year-olds in England. Now it’s time to look at the free childcare funding available for 3 and 4-year-old children. With up to 30 hours of free childcare available in this age group, this represents a great opportunity for parents or guardians to continue with their careers and boost household income, particularly following maternity or paternity leave. It’s also wonderful for the children, who will naturally benefit from early years education and be better prepared for school when the time comes at age 5.

So, how does the 30 hours of free childcare funding work, and who is eligible?

How 15-30 hours of free childcare funding works

Guide to how the free funding available for three and four year olds works

This is funding that comes from the Government, via local councils, to pay for childcare at nurseries, pre-schools and similar approved childcare providers. The funding goes direct to the childcare settings or providers, not to the parents or guardians of the children. There are two possible halves — 15 hours of free childcare and an additional 15 hours on top of that, potentially taking the total available up to 30 hours of free childcare for each child.

The first 15 hours of free childcare

The first 15 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds in England is very straight forward. In essence, all 3- and 4-year-olds in England are entitled to the 15 hours of funding for childcare each week. Well, to be more precise, the scheme allows for 15 hours per week spread out over 38 weeks in any one year. That’s a total maximum of 570 hours a year. However, so long as the total hours in any given year does not exceed 570, some childcare settings will allow parents or carers to spread the free childcare out over a different number of weeks, simply by adjusting the number of hours used during each of those weeks appropriately.

Eligibility for 15 hours of childcare funding:

  • All 3- and 4-year-olds living in England are eligible (and there are also similar schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).
  • The free childcare funding can only be used in conjunction with approved childcare settings and providers. Treetops Nursery in Willesden is one such approved nursery.
  • The children are eligible from the term* following their 3rd birthday, until they reach compulsory school age or start Reception Year at school.
    * (Terms usually start in early January, April or September).
  • The 15 hours of funding is not means-tested, nor is it related to whether or not the parent or guardian is working or unemployed etc.
  • The Government funding does not include food and consumables (nappies, sun cream etc.), so you will need to check this with your individual childcare provider.

30 hours of free childcare

Up to 1140 hours of free childcare per year are potentially available

30 hours of free childcare funding is also available for eligible families. However, it includes the first 15 hours explained above, plus a possible additional 15 hours per week, when eligible. This takes the total amount of free childcare available to a possible maximum of 1140 hours per year, or 30 hours per week spread out over 38 weeks. As with the first ‘15 hours’ scenario, some childcare providers allow it to be spread out over more of the year, so long as the number of hours per week is reduced accordingly. And, as before, the free childcare funding can only be used with approved childcare providers like Treetops Nursery, Willesden.

Eligibility for 30 hours of childcare funding:

You and your partner, if you have one:

  • must be working¹;
  • must be earning¹ the equivalent of 16 hours per week, on average over the next 3 months, at the National Living Wage or National Minimum Wage²;
  • must not be earning £100,000¹ or more of net income in the current tax year, including any bonuses;
  • may usually still claim when on sick leave, annual leave or parental leave.

¹ Has your work or earning level been affected by the coronavirus pandemic? If so, there are some temporary and very welcome exceptions to the rules, which you can find out about here.

² Note that, if you’re self-employed, you can base your 3 month average on what you expect to earn during the current tax year if your earnings over the last 3 months are not sufficient.

You may be still be able to claim for 30 hours funding at the same time as:

  • Eligibility explainedclaiming Universal Credit, tax credits³ or Tax-Free Childcare;
  • receiving childcare vouchers;
  • claiming Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Carer’s Allowance or contribution-based Employment & Support Allowance — if you are not working but your partner is;
  • starting or re-starting work within 31 days of the application date.

³ Please note that, if you are receiving tax credits, getting 30 hours free childcare funding could affect how much tax credits you receive. Check here.

Reasons you may not be able to claim 30 hours childcare funding

You are unlikely to be eligible if:

  • your child doesn’t live with you;
  • you foster the child in question;
  • you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and you and your partner, if you have one, do not have access to public funds (according to your UK residence card);
  • someone else already claims Tax-Free Childcare for your child.

How to apply for 30 hours free childcare funding

Firstly, have your National Insurance number and, if you’re self-employed, your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) ready. You’ll be applying via the ‘Government Gateway’ so if you have not accessed this before, you’ll also need to set up access to it for the first time. As part of that you’ll need to have your mobile phone or landline number ready, along with your UK passport and possibly details of any tax credits, your P60 or recent payslip.

If you are separated, only one of you can apply so, ideally, you’ll first need to agree which of you will be applying (if you can’t agree, apply separately and HMRC will decide who ends up with the ‘childcare account’).

If you have a partner living with you, you will need to include them in the application. However, eligibility will not be affected by their income or employment if they are in prison or are absent from the household for more than six months of the year.

Set aside about 20 minutes or so for the application (5 minutes longer if you have not accessed the Government Gateway before) and then you can start the application process here. You usually find out whether your application is successful within a week, sometimes straight away. If successful, you will receive a code that you can give to your childcare provider so that they can access the funding.

Free childcare funding at Treetops Nursery in Willesden, London NW10

30 hours free childcare is available at Treetops Nursery, Willesden

Treetops Nursery accepts both 15 hours and 30 hours of childcare funding for eligible families, spaces permitting. We’re a nursery and pre-school in Willesden in London NW10 so are also convenient for parents and guardians looking for high quality childcare at a nursery or pre-school near Willesden Green, Harlesden, Brent, Kensal Green, Brondesbury Park, Kilburn, Mapesbury, Dollis Hill, Church End, Roundwood, College Park and Park Royal.

For further details about Treetops Nursery:

FREE Childcare for 2-Year-Olds – A Complete Guide

2 year old playing with bubblesHave you heard about the free childcare funding that’s available for eligible 2-year-olds? Do you want to learn more? If you are a parent who is looking to work, or perhaps to get back into work after starting a family, then this could be a perfect solution for you and your toddler. Under a Government scheme, approved nurseries, pre-schools and childcare providers in England can supply up to 15 hours per week of childcare for eligible 2-year-olds. It’s an absolute no-brainer, so we thought we’d put together this comprehensive guide to tell you everything you need to know.

The benefits of free childcare for 2-year-olds

Free childcare hours will be a great help to families:

  • It will help those on maternity or paternity leave to re-enter the workplace more easily, knowing that their young child is being cared for in a safe and secure environment.
  • For up to 15 hours a week, the childcare will be funded by the Government, free of charge, enabling families to boost household income and quality of life.
  • The 2-year-olds benefit greatly as it allows them to make an early start on their education and development. They can prepare for school for around three years and hit the ground running there when they reach the age of five.

A Department of Education study showed that children who start early education no later than the age of two will have long-term benefits including enhanced abilities, better confidence and improved social skills, to name just a few. Studies also show that even their lifetime outcomes and future employment potential are improved if they started early years education and care by the age of 2. The greatest benefits were seen by those children receiving at least 10 hours per week. So, with 15 free hours a week on offer for free, it’s something that every parent in England should at least consider.

How it works

2 year old girl at nursery

It’s quite straight forward. First, it’s wise to do a rough check to see whether you/your child is likely to be eligible (see the next section below for that). If it looks like you are eligible, you can apply for the funding via a Government website – more about that later. If you are approved, your child can begin free childcare from an approved childcare provider (… such as Treetops Nursery in Willesden). The Government will pay the cost of the childcare, up to 15 hours per week for 2-year-olds, direct to the childcare provider. Your child can begin receiving the childcare in the year in which they reach the age of 2. Which term they start in depends upon the month of their birthday so, in real terms, they usually begin on, or soon after, the 1st of January, 1st of April or 1st of September.

Eligible 2-year-olds can receive up to 570 hours of free childcare over the course of a year. Usually that is taken as 15 hours per week over 38 weeks. However, some childcare providers allow it to be a little more flexible with, perhaps, less hours per week but over more weeks of the year, so long as the total is no more than 570 hours overall.

Eligibility requirements for free childcare funding for 2-year-olds

In order to be eligible for the free childcare funding, either

  1. the parent(s) need to be receiving one or more of the requisite ‘qualifying benefits’ or
  2. the 2-year-old must fall into a qualifying ‘additional needs’ category.

We’ll explain more about each one …

1. The ‘qualifying benefits’

Little boy playing at pre-school

In order to qualify, the parent of the two-year-old must be in receipt of one of the following benefits:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (income-related);
  • Employment & Support Allowance (if income-related);
  • Income Support;
  • Universal Credit related to low income (household income after tax being less than £15,400 per annum excluding benefits);
  • Tax Credits related to low income (household income less than £16,190 per annum before tax);
  • The guaranteed part of Pension Credit (which tops up weekly income if below £173.75 for single people or £265.20 for couples);
  • The ‘run-on’ Working Tax Credit payments paid for four weeks after stopping work;
  • Payments paid to asylum seekers* via Part 6 of the Immigration & Asylum Act.

Amounts shown are correct at time of writing (September 2020) but may be subject to change thereafter.

* Note: Asylum seekers who have an NRPF (‘No Recourse to Public Funds) Visa and non-EAA citizens who are ‘Zambrano Carers’ may still be eligible in some cases.

2. The qualifying ‘additional needs’

Toddler in play area

The two-year-old may still qualify for free childcare funding if:

  • the local authority are charged with looking after them;
  • they receive Disability Living Allowance;
  • they have a statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN);
  • they are subject to an Education, Health & Care plan (EHC);
  • they have left care under an Adoption Order;
  • they have left care under a Child Arrangements Order;
  • they have left care under a Special Guardianship Order.

Note: Please check with your childcare setting whether additional items like nappies and meals will cost extra as, strictly speaking, these are not covered by the Government scheme for 2-year-olds.

How to apply for free childcare funding for your 2-year-old

Toddler with play camera at nursery school

Applying for free childcare funding for your 2-year-old is quite straight forward:

  1. Initially, we recommend that you discuss your possible application with your intended childcare provider. See below for contact details and links if this is likely to be Treetops Nursery in Willesden.
  2. Once you’re ready to apply, you can do so on the Government’s Childcare Choices website.

Free Childcare for 2-year-olds at Treetops Nursery, Willesden

Treetops Nursery in Willesden, London NW10, accepts free childcare under the Government scheme for eligible 2-year-olds, subject to available places of course. An added bonus is that those accessing 15 free hours of childcare for their 2-year-old do not need to pay the usual £50 registration fee at Treetops Nursery.

Get Started

If you would like more information about free childcare funding for your child at Treetops Nursery in Willesden, please call 020 8963 1259 or send us a message here. You can also book a visit to our nursery here. We are a high quality nursery and pre-school in Willesden, London NW10, so are also ideal for parents and carers looking for outstanding childcare services near Willesden Green, Harlesden and Kensal Green.