Childcare In Denmark

Childcare is an essential part of Danish life. A lot of Danes work full-time, so most have their children put into childcare from around 6 months old until 6 years, which is generally when a child starts school.

I've written a small guide on childcare in Denmark and my personal experience of it. Please read on if you're interested!

The basics

The good thing about childcare in Denmark is that the kommune (council or municipality) manages it, therefore it benefits from government funding and regulation. Though taxes are high in Denmark, some of what we pay goes towards the childcare system. Therefore every child is entitled to a place and it is the municipality's job to help parents and guardians find an ideal institution or childminder.

In the municipality I live, you register your interest in finding a childcare spot online. The parents or guardians enter their details and then are able to choose where their child shall be cared for. However, it is important to register your child as early as possible if there is a particular institution or childminder you're set on.

There are three types of childcare available:

  • Dagpleje (daycare) - a childminder that cares for small groups of children ages around 6 months - 3 years in their own home.
  • Vuggestue (nursery) - an institution with numerous employees that care for larger groups of children from ages around 6 months - 3 years.
  • Børnehave (kindergarten) - an institution with numerous employees that care for large groups of children from ages around 3-6 years old. Sometimes the vuggestue and børnehave are together in one building, which can make the transition from nursery to kindergarten easier for the child.

Parents or guardians pay the municipality a fee per child per month, but this amount is low compared to childcare costs in my native UK. Each fee varies depending on which municipality you live in, so check your municipality's website for them. Low income households may be entitled to a discounted or free place.

Private childcare (individuals and institutions not employed by the municipality) is also an option, but the fees are higher. Private daycare is still subject to regulations set by the municipality.

My experience with childcare in Denmark

A year-and-a-half ago, my husband and I took our daughter to meet her potential childminder. The daycare coordinator of the municipality was there also to give us paperwork and ask if we had any questions. We spent a total of 2 hours there to get a feel for the place and have the opportunity to chat to the childminder.

What immediately struck me was how quiet the place was. I was expecting chaos. The babies napped in their prams outside (as is normal in Denmark) so we spoke and had a drink. The little ones eventually woke up for a snack and to play. It was lovely seeing the childminder interact with them. She had an affectionate, gentle approach.

She fed the children bread she made herself, along with some sliced pear. One child shoved his plate off the table. The childminder calmly picked up the strewn food and plate, wiped up and served the baby a fresh plate. No problem! Just another day in the office.

"How the heck does she do it? Four children under two in her care each day!", I thought to myself. The very idea of it made me feel nervous.

We took a tour of the rooms and the garden (with a sand pit, net swing and slide). We had chance to watch the babies play outside. I felt like I'd melt; not only because it was hot, but because the kids were so adorable.

My little one spent most of the 2 hours tired and grouchy, but also curious. She didn't know what to make of the other children, though I did catch her smiling at one of the boys at some point. I jokingly told her that she better not be looking for a boyfriend yet!

All that time ago, I dreaded having my child in daycare. Now? I don't regret my decision at all. My daughter was placed with that childminder and had a lovely half a year with her. Unfortunately, the childminder was made redundant due to cuts and my daughter was placed with another, which is the one she has to this day. The current childminder is great and my daughter is thriving in her care.

I had my preconceptions about Danish childcare - how I thought it was too early to send a child away and how unfair it was. My views on the subject have of course changed. It's not a place where my daughter is propped into a corner to entertain herself until she's collected. It's an enriching, social learning environment that has and will help her development considerably.

When my husband is at work and I'm at school, our child is in the care of someone who has a love for children and their work. That's very important and comforting to me.

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