what is a nursery nurse?

As a nursery nurse, sometimes also called a neonatal nurse, you provide care for babies and young children in hospitals, schools, family centres and nurseries. Your work is to ensure the children's daily care needs are met. You provide a safe, supportive and nurturing environment. You also supervise and coordinate social and educational activities to help them develop and grow.

When you work in hospitals, you look after babies from birth until they are discharged. You also look after sick children and assist parents with feeding, dressing, changing and comforting them. You are trained to administer medication and conduct various tests that aid diagnosis.

A nursery nurse is an important part of children's early development since they organise activities to improve social skills. You encourage and build children's concentration, creativity and sense of discovery. You also supervise play and encourage activities that improve their skills in number work, reading, art and singing.

As a nursery nurse, you monitor changes in children under your care and provide remedies. For instance, if they withdraw from social activities, you work with parents, carers and doctors to figure out the problem. You also write reports on children's progress and document the recovery process prior to discharge. The role requires empathy and patience to help children achieve their goals effectively.

Would working in health as a nursery nurse suit your passion for helping kids and empathetic skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a nursery nurse role.

nursery nurse jobs

nursery nurse salary

According to ONS, a full-time nursery nurse earns a median salary of £22,255 per year. Entry-level positions have a salary of £20,710 annually, while experienced nurses earn over £29,120 per year. The benefits packages vary depending on the employer, but most nursery nurses enjoy sick pay, generous annual leave, childcare discounts and pension schemes.

When you work for the NHS, your salary is scaled on the Agenda for Change band systems. Entry-level nursery nurses start at Band 3, ranging between £20,330 and £21,777 per year. When you have three years of experience, your Band 4 salary starts at £22,549 and can rise to £24,882 per year. Senior nursery nurses take home a Band 5 salary starting from £25,655 to £31,534 per year.

how to increase your salary as a nursery nurse

Your nursery nurse salary mainly depends on your specialism and level of experience. When you are a general nursery nurse, your earnings only increase with experience. However, specialising in a specific area improves your income. For instance, you can specialise in caring for children with special needs, physical disabilities or mental health issues. You also receive better salaries in the private sector when you have additional years of experience and take up supervisory roles. However, trainee nursery nurses are better off financially working for the NHS.


nurse playing with kids
nurse playing with kids

types of nursery nurses

Types of nursery nurses include:

  • neonatal nursery nurse: as a nursery nurse, you care for newborn babies. You dress and feed them to support new mothers. You also administer food and medication to premature infants in neonatal intensive care units.
  • developmental disability nursery nurse: your job is to assist children with Down's syndrome, ASD (autism spectrum disorder), or other developmental conditions at home or in hospital and school settings. You help them improve their well-being by providing speech therapy and improving mobility. You also administer medication and help the parents cope with the condition.
  • school nursery nurse: as a nursery nurse, you assist with the learning and development of children in school. Apart from assisting them with learning activities, you help treat injuries and manage medical conditions.

working as a nursery nurse

Working as a nursery nurse involves caring for babies and young children in a supportive, safe and nurturing environment. Let's explore the work environments, opportunities for progression and responsibilities of nursery nurses.


education and skills

Nursery nurses require formal education to provide services in various settings. Some qualifications include:

  • college course: you can become a nursery nurse with a Level 3 National Diploma in Childcare and Education. An NVQ Level 3 in Children's Care, Learning and Development also lands you a role. When you work in hospitals, you may need nursing training before doing a conversion course in children's care.
  • apprenticeship: you can become a nursery nurse by joining an apprenticeship programme for nursery assistants and work your way up to nursery nurse roles. If you want to work in schools, you can do an advanced apprenticeship in early years educator or practitioner roles.

skills and competencies

Some of the skills and competencies of a nursery nurse include:

  • communication: as a nursery nurse, you communicate with children, doctors and children's families. You need the skills to communicate clearly with everyone. For instance, you have to use simple language when communicating with children and explaining medical terms to child patients' families. You also update medical records and write reports.
  • multitasking: a nursery nurse handles a huge workload since you care for multiple patients per shift. You need multitasking skills to manage your workload and ensure every patient is attended to on time.
  • observation skills: babies cannot explain how they are feeling. Hence, you need to be observant when monitoring their status and well-being. Observation skills help you notice changes in an infant's health.
  • patience: as a nursery nurse, you work with worried parents and distressed children. You need the patience to stay composed and help the children feel better. Patience also helps you perform medical procedures meticulously.

reading for children
reading for children


FAQs about working as a nursery nurse

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