‘Research Like This Isn’t Helpful. There Are Lots Of Reasons For Full-Time Care’

Accountant Sarah Cole, whose two children now aged seven and four both attended full-time nursery, said they never showed any ill effects. As the main breadwinner Mrs Cole, who lives in Penarth, returned to work when her son Gregory was 12 weeks old.

At the time statutory maternity leave was just 16 weeks and she had already taken some time off before Gregory was born. She and her husband Adrian put Gregory in nursery from 8am to 6pm five days a week because both worked full time. By the time their daughter Eleanor came along maternity leave entitlement had been increased so she went to nursery full-time at six months old.

“I don’t think it was bad for them,” Mrs Cole said. “Eleanor is the most gregarious little girl you could meet. The ideal would be part-time. But nursery does give them important social interaction and it’s important to know you can be safe away from your mum and dad. Research like this isn’t helpful. There are lots of reasons why women choose nurseries.”

But Sophie Broughton who is returning to work in three weeks after a year’s maternity leave with her third child, said she would never send a baby to nursery full time again. Mrs Broughton, from Dinas Powis, said she “felt guilty every day” leaving daughter Isabella, now nine, in nursery from 8am to 5pm.

When she had her second daughter Anoushka, now four, she decided to send her part-time and she will not be sending her third child, Theo, one, to nursery at all. Mrs Broughton and husband Paul, who are both graphic designers, have decided to cut their hours and work weekends so they can share childcare.

Mrs Broughton is due to return to work at the BBC later this month and says she is relieved she will not be dropping Theo in nursery at 8am each day. “Maternity leave is longer now and employers are more child friendly,” she said.

“It was different when I had Isabella. I agree with this research. More than five hours is too long. “Isabella is nine now and still remembers it. She says she worried when, or if, I would pick her up because it felt like forever. She was pleased to leave and go to school when she was five because it was a shorter day.”