$2,500 for full-day infant-care? This is what you get at Tots and Teddies

September 26, 2017
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    Underwriter Winston Loh, 39, was so eager to enrol his daughter in Tots and Teddies, he did not mind paying monthly fees from April though she started at the infant-care centre only in June.

    He forked out nearly $4,000 more – the monthly fee is about $1,900 after subsidies – just to hold down a place.

    “The fees are almost double or triple the price that I might pay in the heartland, but this place has better care facilities than other centres that I’ve come across,” he said.

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    Opened in January, the centre is located on the fourth floor of TPI Building at Cecil Street.

    Mr Loh had visited four other infant-care centres after his daughter was born in January, but was most impressed by Tots and Teddies. He said he places a lot of emphasis on cleanliness, hygiene and the quality of food when it comes to infant care.

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    Not only is the centre fitted with air filters and purifiers, but it also uses organic soaps and shampoos from brands such as California Baby. Given these features and the centre’s smaller enrolment of fewer than 50 children, he believes his daughter is better protected against viruses.

    “I’d rather pay a little more to get that convenience and peace of mind,” he said.

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    Tots and Teddies, which is licensed by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), charges $2,500 and $2,200 per month for full-day infant-care and childcare respectively, before GST and subsidies. This is more than twice the average of $1,032 per month, as of end-June.

    Its founder Oliver Houchin said his centre’s high fees reflect the care quality parents give at home and expect to be replicated in the centre. “It’s not really about spoiling the kids, but about giving them more personal attention,” said Mr Houchin, a permanent resident whose wife is Singaporean.


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    Here, a smaller teacher-child ratio of 1:5 allows teachers to devote more time to helping children learn, Mr Houchin said. The maximum class size is 10 pupils. Over at its infant-care arm, the staff-baby ratio is 1:3.

    The monthly fees include weekly gym lessons and bi-weekly Gardens by the Bay trips for kids in the Playgroup classes and above; weekly coding as well as speech and drama from Pre-Nursery classes onwards.

    Related: Choosing a preschool in Singapore: is expensive better?

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    Meals are designed by a paediatric nutritionist and prepared by a former hotel chef. “Our chef prepares everything in-house, so we make our own (sugar-free) bread, tofu, soya bean milk, pasta, whole wheat pancakes etc. We also make fresh purees for the infants each morning, so parents don’t have to worry about preparing their food,” said Mr Houchin.

    Its interesting menu includes chickpea curry, chicken rice, salmon and risotto as well as ABC soup. “Rather than serve the ‘standard’ apples, banana, oranges every day, we also include strawberries and kiwi, for example,” he added. The centre also tries to accommodate specific dietary needs of the children.

    Related: Singapore preschools: What you get for $2000 a month vs less than $600 a month

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    Unlike other centres, which allow parents to drop in only at designated periods, Tots and Teddies has an open-door policy where they can spend time with their children at the centre any time.

    Parents are welcome to have breakfast here every Friday. This gives them more time to spend with their kids, and also meet the other parents and teachers, said Mr Houchin.

    There is also a nursing room so mummies can come by and breastfeed if they wish (or use the room to express and store in the fridge).

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    Mr Houchin, a Briton, does not have early childhood qualifications, but the centre’s programme is overseen by its experienced principal, Ms Judy Ng, who has a master’s in early childhood education from Wheelock College. But he acknowledged that centres with high fees do not always reflect good quality. In fact, he set up his centre after other premium-brand pre-schools he scouted or sent his daughter to fell short of his own expectations.

    His daughter, four, is one of the 30 or so children at the centre, which can take in 49 children. About half the children are Singaporeans. It has two spots left for infant care.

    A version of this article appeared in The Straits Times.

    (Photos: Tots and Teddies and The Straits Times)

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