Is it Better to Have a Nanny or Daycare?

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    Daycare vs. Nanny: which one's right for you? You're not alone. Most moms have these two choices, one tough decision.

    For many new parents who should watch their baby it is stressful, emotional and confusing. 

    Many moms are not emotionally ready to return to work but have a limited or no maternity leave policy.

    Without paid maternity leave, many parents are left without many options. 

    Aside from being a stay-at-home parent or having relatives watch your child, the two most popular childcare choices are enrolling your child in a daycare centre or hiring a nanny to protect your child in your home. 

    Evaluating the pros and cons of both options can help you make the best decision for your family.

    Whether you're aiming for part-time or full-time care, there comes a time in every working mom's life when she asks herself an important question: What are the best childcare choices for my child?

    You're not alone in agonising over this decision. 

    Sixty-two per cent of parents say it's tough to find affordable, quality childcare—and this is true for all parents, regardless of how many zeros are on your paycheck.

    How do you even begin to decide? If you don't have a grandparent who lives nearby and can lend a hand, the two most common choices are Nanny and Daycare. 

    But when it comes down to it, deciding whether to go with Daycare or a nanny depends on your family and two key factors that will come into play: time and money.

    Ultimately, while many may think choosing a nanny or daycare hinges on what's best for the child, what's truly most important is what's best for both baby and parents, especially mom.

    Nanny vs. Daycare: Decisions, Decisions

    If you're beginning to map out a childcare strategy, you're not alone making these tough childcare choices. 

    But consider this: almost one-quarter of children under 5 are in some form of organised child care, including Daycare.

    But before you decide on enrolling your baby in Daycare or hiring a nanny, consider the following factors:

    What's Your Timeline? 

    When will you go back to work? This can be a significant factor in deciding on childcare choices for babies. 

    Finding a nanny takes time, and daycare centres often have waitlists in place—some months long.

    What's Your Schedule? 

    Are you returning to work full time? Part-time? Job sharing? Will you have extra help, say from a grandparent or other resource? 

    You are plotting out when" part is critical when deciding on childcare choices for your infant or toddler.

    What's Your Budget? 

    An experienced, well-regarded nanny can run a pretty penny—daycare costs in some cities can amount to a second mortgage. 

    Ultimately, your childcare budget could make this decision for you.

    The bottom line is that both nannies and Daycare can be costly, and families spend more on childcare than rent.

    And while some companies have made parental leave strides, the reality is that working women take 10.3 weeks on average before heading back to work. 

    Most companies require you to get back to work quickly, which means you'll need to secure childcare for a baby who is 3 to 6 months old," Griesemer says.

    Read on as we sketch out the ins and outs of Daycare and hiring a nanny to help you determine what's right for you.

    Should I Hire a Nanny?

    A nanny is a person who has special training in early childhood development. They are employed to care for a child (or children) daily, whether part-time or full time. 

    It's that dedicated time and care that separates a nanny from a babysitter, who typically takes on a more occasional role.

    If parents are willing and able to provide a room and separate bathroom, they can hire a live-in nanny. 

    If not, the other options are a live-out nanny or a nanny share, in which two to three families share a nanny and split the cost.

    The best course of action is going through a professional nanny service or hiring someone highly recommended by family and friends.

    Benefits of Hiring a Nanny

    Many parents appreciate the flexibility and control they get from having a nanny who works in their home.

    More Parental Control

    With a nanny in your home, you have more control over what your child is exposed to, where they go, what they eat, and what their schedule looks like. 

    Most nannies provide detailed reports of the day and send parents pictures. If this is important to you, a nanny is a good option.

    Individual Attention

    Your Nanny is focused on your child's individual needs. There is no competition for attention, and the Nanny can solely concentrate on your child's development.


    A nanny provides the benefit of a primary attachment figure.5 With a nanny, your child can develop a special relationship with one person and rely on them to be a secure and comforting person in their lives.



    Having a nanny come to your home makes being a working parent much more accessible. If you forget to do something at home, you can call your Nanny. 

    If you have a repairman come to the house, your Nanny can be there to let him in.

    Further, many nannies help with light housework, cook your child's meals and do their laundry. These tasks lessen the parenting load for you.


    You set the hours for when you need a nanny. 

    If you start work later and work evenings, you can find a nanny who will work with your schedule. If you are stuck in traffic, your Nanny will be at home waiting.

    Consistent Care

    Most nannies stay with their families from birth through school age. 

    Turnover at daycare centres tends to average at least one caregiver leaving each year or sooner, which may be emotional for your child. 

    Vetted Caregiver. 

    These days, sites like help you find an experienced caregiver with references.

    Structured space. 

    Most nannies will come to your home to care for your child, which means a familiar, stable and safe environment.

    Your Nanny, Your Schedule

    Full time? Part-time? Evenings and weekends? Since your Nanny works directly for you, you can structure the hours to fit your needs.

    Additional Duties

    You decide the rate you pay your Nanny, within the range and expectations your area allows, of course. 

    This means you also decide what the Nanny's duties entail. Child care alone? Light household tasks, like meals and dishes? Heavier lifting like laundry?

    Budget Saver? 

    A nanny can be easier on your budget if you have two kids or more or decide to do a nanny share with other parents.

    Custom Care and Attention. 

    Your Nanny's sole focus is your child, which can offer parental peace of mind. 

    Depending on your Nanny's background, this might mean one-on-one play and learning time when it comes to language and early childhood development.


    With a nanny, you don't have to prepare or pack up for the day. No lugging pumped milk or packed lunch across town with you.

    Drawbacks of Hiring a Nanny

    With nannies come parenting style conflicts and issues with regulation. Here's why you may not want to have a nanny.

    Lack of Oversight. 

    You've installed the nanny-cams, but when it's just Nanny and baby, there's no natural way to know exactly what your little one's day looks like.

    Budget Buster? 

    According to the International Nanny Association, unless your Nanny is taking care of multiple kids or part of a nanny share, nannies tend to be the more expensive option—costing $500 to $700 per week for full-time care.

    Paperwork Headaches. 

    You will need to pay your Nanny's Social Security taxes and file a W-2 for her as an employer.

    Parenting Style Conflicts

    If you and your Nanny disagree on discipline, sleeping, or other parenting issues, it may be a conflict and make for a problematic relationship. It is best to find a nanny who is on the same page as you regarding parenting style. Consistency between caregivers is essential for child development.


    Nannies usually cost significantly more than daycare centres. However, nanny costs vary depending on location, the number of kids, and other factors. If you want a nanny, but cannot afford an individual nanny, think about a nanny share where two or more children share one.


    If a nanny consistently shows up late, then it makes you late for work. Since the Nanny is coming to your home, you cannot control their tardiness.

    No Coverage for Sick Time

    If your Nanny gets sick, takes a personal day, or leaves town, you will have to stay home or find backup care.

    No Regulations

    Nannies are not required to have extra education on child development or specific certifications. For example, many nannies are CPR certified, but not all. Screening nanny candidates and running background checks are up to parents.

    You Are the Employer

     Having a nanny means you are an employer. It would help if you kept your nanny "on the books" and then paid your Nanny's salary taxes. You can also take advantage of tax breaks via the Child Care Tax Credit and dependent care flexible spending accounts.

    When hiring a nanny, you should discuss sick time and vacation days and create an agreement or a nanny contract. Also, as the employer, you should give your nanny feedback and have open conversations about their work.

    Should I Enroll My Child in Daycare?


    There are two types of Daycare: stand-alone centres and ones offered by providers in their private homes.

    Both should be licensed to ensure the highest level of care and trust. Before choosing a daycare option, parents should:

    • tour all daycares they are
    • considering
    • utilise a list of questions
    • ask about teacher-to-child ratios
    • understand hours of operation
    • be aware of meal times and available
    • allergy or dietary accommodations

    Benefits of Daycare

    Here are some reasons you might lean toward a daycare centre.

    Social Skills

    Daycare provides the benefit of socialisation, where kids can learn and grow with other children. Children are stimulated by other kids and develop social skills through their daily experiences in Daycare.

    Toys, Books, and Resources

    Most daycare centres offer a wide variety of toys, books, games and play equipment. In addition, Daycare provides opportunities for creative play with art supplies, educational games, dress-up outfits, and building blocks.

    Some daycare centres also bring in people for extra activities, such as music or yoga. These items are usually included in your monthly or annual costs, so you don't have to pay extra for the supplies.

    State Regulations and Accreditations

    Daycare centres must follow state regulations around safety, staffing, sanitation, and space issues. Ask about the centre's most current state license and if they have been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).2 

    Multiple Teachers

    Many daycare centres have lovely teachers who have been working with kids for many years. Some may have training in child development. Children will be supervised by a group of teachers and form relationships with more than one individual.


    The price of Daycare tends to be more affordable than a nanny since you are sharing the cost with other families. However, the price varies based on location and type of facility. For example, an in-home daycare centre, also known as family care, is usually less expensive than a traditional daycare (but also offers fewer benefits like resources and multiple teachers.

    Vetted, Licensed Caregivers

    These facilities are mandated to meet state and federal licensing regulations. Check to ensure your day care's status is up to date and that there are no complaints against the facility.

    Structured Space and Hours

    Daycare centres will offer structured dates and hours meant to accommodate working parents, including an extended day providing early-morning and late-evening hours.

    It May Offer Online Check-Ins or Monitoring

    Some facilities may let you "visit" your child remotely during the day via an online monitoring system or video chat.

    It Benefits Social Interaction and Development

    Playtime with pals? Babies develop critical skills by interacting with others, both adults and children.

    Focuses on Early Childhood Education

    Many days care double as pre-pre school, offering an early-childhood curriculum that will introduce babies to his ABCs and 123s.

    Drawbacks of Daycare

    While there are many daycare pros, every pro comes with some cons. Here's why you should not choose Daycare. 

    High Turnover? 

    As the baby develops, a safe, familiar staff is critical. Check to see how stable the team is at your facility.

    Structured Hours

    Yes, this can be a pro too. But you're out of luck when you're running late at work or need to run kid-free errands on a Sunday afternoon.

    It Can Be Expensive

    According to the Centre for American Progress, put the baby in Daycare for the year and prepare to face high costs—around $11,666 per year or as much as the average cost of a year's tuition at a four-year public college.


    While a baby may develop significant resistance via exposure over the long term, expect sick days over the short time—and lots of them. 

    Keep in mind that you'll have to keep the baby at home with you—and potentially miss work—if she is sick.

    Germs are prevalent in Daycare, with kids sharing so many toys, wiping their noses and touching the toys again.Given close contact with so many children, in Daycare, a child may get sick more times a year than one not in Daycare.

    Sick Policies

    Daycare centres have strict sick policies, so if your kid falls into their "sick" category, you have to take time off from work or find other childcare arrangements when your child has an illness. Further, if your kid gets sick at Daycare, you will have to pick them up and keep them home until they are free of the disease.


    Bites or falls are common in Daycare.4 With many kids, it is challenging to keep an eye on all kids at one time, so there may be more bumps and bruises.


    Daycare centres run on specific hours, so you will probably be subject to an extra charge if you are late picking up your child. If you have a job where you cannot leave at a specific time each day, you may need more flexibility than Daycare can offer.

    Your Kid's Personality

    Daycare has many transitions and stimuli, so it's essential to know your child's personality. Think about whether they will be overwhelmed or overstimulated by this environment.

    Also, other kids' behaviour and development can impact your child's day. For example, will your child be influenced by a child who needs additional discipline? How do you feel about teachers caring for more than one baby at a time?

    Questions to Ask: Daycare Vs. Nanny

    What's the cost, and what do I get? For example, will the Nanny clean and cook in addition to watching your child? 

    Does the Daycare provide meals? If so, are they prepared with fresh ingredients or processed prepackaged ones?

    Will this be convenient? Is the daycare facility close to my house or my work? Or would the Nanny be available to come to my house during the hours I'll need her?

    What's my gut feeling? Do I like the Nanny or the people who run the Daycare? Can I trust them?

    Is there shared trust? Are they willing to respect my wishes? For example, will they accommodate this if I use cloth diapers or have bottled breast milk?

    What's their availability and turnover rate? How long have the caregivers been at the centre I'm interested in? 

    How long has this Nanny been working in childcare? What are the caregiver's long-term plans? Remember: It's best if kids can stay with the same caregiver for at least a year.

    In the end, only you can decide the best option for your family. 

    The biggest thing is to search for a place you can feel good about. That's the most important thing for the whole family.

    The price of daycare tends to be more affordable than a nanny since you are sharing the cost with other families. ... An in-home daycare center, also known as family care, is usually less expensive than a traditional daycare (but also offers fewer benefits like resources and multiple teachers..

    A study published this month in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that daycare children are better behaved and socialized than children who are cared for in at-home settings.

    Drawbacks include:
    • There are no regulations, so parents have to screen nannies before hiring.
    • No back-up if your nanny is sick.
    • Hiring a nanny tends to be more expensive.
    • Having a nanny is like managing an employee. ...
    • You may disagree on things like your child's nutrition, activities, sleep schedules, discipline, etc.
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