What Can You do if You Need Short Term Childcare in Cambridge?

Finding yourself without childcare at short notice can be a real nightmare. Has your annual leave been cancelled because of a work emergency? Have your usual childcare options fallen through?

Sometimes even family or friends can let us down at the last minute. Did they forget to tell you that they’re away next week? Are Uncle Jamie and the cousins visiting so there won’t be any extra space?

Whatever the reason, you need child care and fast. Let’s dig into some of the best options available to you in Cambridge. We’ll go through the details and the pros and cons of what they have to offer.

Most of the following suggestions also take childcare vouchers, making them even more affordable.

Friends and family

This is always worth a check first. Who is available and could they help you out? If your child has close friends at their school, or childcare setting now might be a time to call in those favours. Building up good relationships with other parents can really pay off when you’re caught short.

Don’t forget to see if your child’s class or nursery has a Facebook group you can belong to. This is a great place to ask for advice or get support from your fellow parents.

If you regularly invite other children for playdates and support other mums and dads when they are short of childcare you may find yourself with a list of people you can lean on for support.

It may seem a bit sneaky, but it is so worth it and if the other parents think of it you can bet, they’ll do it too. It may even make two hours of, “Please turn off the television darling and go and play with Benny” almost worth it.


Low price or free

With someone your child knows


May require an exchange of favours

Limited availability

Emergency nannies

From £8 an hour you can employ a temporary nanny from several online providers. They will advise you on how to do it securely and what documents to check.

While this may seem like a daunting process, they are professionals and will support you to complete any checks or trial runs you need to feel comfortable.

Choosing a temporary nanny is user friendly, you just browse through pictures and profiles to find someone who suits you. Unfortunately, availability isn’t guaranteed and at short notice it may still be tricky to secure someone.


Personal approach

Registered nannies

1 to 1 care



Childcare at home

Higher price

Holiday clubs

These are an excellent option and there are more available than you may realise. Holiday clubs are often linked to schools or other childcare providers but can often be accessed by any children needing childcare. Prices start from £28 a day and often includes breakfast and snacks.

This is a less expensive option because in an enclosed and safe environment less adults per children are needed. Holiday clubs offer a huge range of activities including tree climbing, Lego building, painting, trips, junk modelling, sports and even themed fun days. Not only do children have access to this they also get to make new friends and enjoy the company of other children.


Huge range of activities

Other children

Policies available

Designated safeguarding lead


Good value


Only available during holidays or after school

Intensive swimming lessons

This is more hit and miss but if you also find your child in need of some extra swimming lessons local providers offer intensive courses that may provide just enough time for your requirements. This depends on availability as they often book up quickly and each swim school arranges sessions differently. Some take on a full child care role and others require parental attendance.


Fun activity

Skills learnt





Children’s camps

There is a wide range of children’s holiday camps available throughout Cambridge. They are daytime only activity clubs and usually cater for children between the ages of 4 and 11.

Most involve childcare and activities for a half or full day. Prices start at about £30 for a full day with extras for snacks etc. The great advantage of a camp is that they can be selected based on interests. Your children can choose from sports camps, Lego camps, bush craft camps, cookery camps and many more.


Interest specific camps

Fun environment

Good value



Only available during holidays

Sports Holiday clubs

These are very similar to camps but are often more readily available. They can usually be found in schools or local community halls. If your children prefer to stay locally and find other children that they know it is worth checking your local area to see if one of these is available.

They are often themed around multi-sports or team sports such as football and are run by a coach and sometimes an assistant. You usually need to provide a pack lunch, but these can be fun way for your child to spend their time. An extra bonus is that they will often be worn out when they get home.


Often local



Only for those interested in sports

Holiday time only

Timings- Can only be 9 till 4

Not always available for children below 7

Locomotor Play

After-school clubs

If your childcare emergency doesn’t fall on a school holiday there are still options open to you. Holiday clubs and sports clubs often run after-school clubs in the same premises.

These are often reasonably priced childcare options with many of the same benefits of a holiday club but in less time. The only drawback is that many finish at about 6pm.


Other children


Choice of activities


Only available after school


When it comes to childcare, especially in an emergency or stressful situation, remember to only leave your child if you are entirely happy. Ask to see policies and documentation or even speak to relevant official bodies to check credentials.

All reliable and well organised childcare providers will fully understand your requests and work with you to ensure that you are entirely happy.

You need never be short of childcare in Cambridge as there is so much to offer. If you aren’t sure what to choose, ask around and visit review sites and websites. The best advertisement for any childcare is happy children.