What Are the Pros and Cons of Daycare?

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    Figuring out child care is a hard parenting decision. In this article, we’re going to talk about the pros and cons of daycare.

    These are the pros and cons moms and dads need to know about sending kids to daycare. These are also important when trying to transition your baby to daycare.

    Setting up childcare for your baby or toddler is a big decision. You want her to be safe, happy, and in an environment where she can thrive. An increasingly popular option is childcare programs, like daycare or infant and toddler care at preschools.

    What do the experts say about the pros and cons of this option? 

    Why Learning About Childcare Pros And Cons Matter

    As parents, we know there’s a lot of guilt regarding sending your child to daycare.

    Many times the guilt trip doesn’t just come from your internal turmoil but other moms and dads.

    From experience, moms and dads are the worst at guilt-tripping other parents to do something just because they “feel” that’s the only way to do it.

    In most situations, there are multiple ways of doing things, and childcare is one of those.

    Many parents, if given the option, probably wouldn’t want to send their kids to daycare. Instead, most would prefer either a nanny or one of them to be a stay at home parent.

    The thing is, nannies are more expensive than daycares (and they come with their pros and cons), and being a stay at home parent was financially out of the question.

    Does Your Choice Of Child Care Effect Your Child’s Development?

    Nearly 11 million children under age 5 are in some type of child care each week, which isn’t surprising since almost 70 per cent of mothers with children age 17 or younger work full or part-time. 

    Almost 30 per cent of these kids are enrolled in centre-based child care, such as a daycare centre, nursery school, pre-kindergarten, Head Start, or other early childhood education programs. 

    Choosing childcare—such as a daycare centre or in-home daycare, nanny, babysitter, or an au pair that is right for your kids, your schedule, and your budget can be a challenging, emotional decision one parent often the second guess. In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of daycare.

    Take comfort from the experts: The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, the most extensive and longest-running study on the effects of child care on development, shows that what happens at home—family and parent-child interaction—has a more significant impact on how a child develops than does a parent’s choice of child care. 

    (Hear the enormous sigh of relief from parents everywhere!) First, however, it’s essential to evaluate childcare options for your family carefully.

    Why Do Parents Look For Daycare

    We’ve found there are only a handful of reasons parents are looking towards daycare to care for their children.

    Both Parents Work Outside The Home

    In this day and age, most households are two-income households. For example, 61.1% of households with children are two-income households.

    Roughly 56.3% of those households have children under six years of age (source).

    If both parents are working outside the home with young children, childcare is going to be needed.

    Stay At Home Parents Need A Break

    Some households do have a stay at home mom or stay at home dad, but sometimes they’re going to need a break.

    Many parents will turn to daycare or mother’s day out to help give the stay at home parent some relief.

    Single Parent Household

    If there’s no relative nearby, a single-parent household is going to need the services of a daycare to watch their child while they’re at work.

    The Pros And Cons Of Daycare


    Daycare enables children to spend time with other children, helping them develop essential social skills, such as sharing, taking turns, negotiating, and self-control. 

    It helps them function in groups, understand social norms, and ultimately allow them to learn from each other.

    Cognitive And Language Development

    Many daycare centres provide some instruction or exposure to the arts and academic concepts. 

    Studies show that kids who attend centre-based daycare have better cognitive and language development and more vital pre-academic skills involving letters and numbers.

    Dependable Care

    Because centres have several childcare providers, parents can count on dependable childcare. 

    There’s no worry or scramble to find alternative childcare if a provider calls in sick. 

    Strengthened Immunity—really! 

    Parents lament the constant stream of germs, and sickness kids pick up and bring home from daycare. Still, a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine shows that daycare may enhance Immunity. 

    Babies who attend large-group childcare centres get more respiratory and ear infections than those cared for at home, but they are less likely to come down with these ailments once they start elementary school, signalling that some immunity building is at work.


    Licensing requirements for childcare facilities include safety measures and inspections that ensure compliance. 

    In comparison, in-home daycare (an individual who cares for a small group of children in their home) tends to be less regulated, and nannies and family-member care require no regulation.

    Consistent Care

    Unlike nannies or other caregivers, childcare programs run on schedule even if a teacher is sick or on vacation.

    Less Expensive Than A Nanny

    While child care programs are, on average, more expensive than in-home daycare or a family member who may care for your child for free, it can be half or even one-third the cost of hiring a nanny.



    Quality childcare programs for babies and toddlers offer plenty of varied stimulation through movement, meaningful interactions with adults, play materials, outdoor time, and free-play and organised activities.

    Age-appropriate Care

    Quality childcare programs separate children and tailor their care, play materials, and activities based on age. However, an option like in-home daycare may not be able to do this.

    Skill Acquisition

    Research shows that babies and toddlers who attend high-quality childcare programs have a slight edge over other children regarding language and cognitive skills.

    Social Support For The Family

    Parents who send their children to childcare programs develop better social networks linked to numerous benefits, including better mental and physical health and more robust job prospects.

    Consistent Location 

    If you choose a preschool with infant and toddler programs, your child can stay in one place until she’s ready for kindergarten. 

    This can make stages like separation anxiety easier to get through and create a general sense of belonging and security for your little one.

    Cons Of Sending Your Child To Daycare

    The Cost Of Daycare

    Daycares are not cheap, and honestly, they can be pretty expensive. The average yearly cost was between $10,262 and $35,782.

    One thing is clear: daycare costs are high and really high in some parts of the country. As a result, many families have a hard time affording daycare costs.

    To help put it in perspective, daycare costs can be anywhere between 14% to 26% of the average family income.

    From personal experience, we’re going to end up paying over $11,000 a year to put our son in daycare.

    And that’s for one kid. So imagine if you had 2 or 3 kids?

    Daycare Hours May Not Be Convenient

    While many daycares do offer the care you can count on, their start times and pick up times might not be to your advantage.

    The daycare we’re going to use is running from 6:30 am to 6 pm. 

    A 6:30 am drop off time and 6 pm pickup time probably works for many parents, but it’s not going to work for every parent.

    What if your commute is longer and you need to drop your child off earlier or pick up your child later.

    Let’s not forget about those who work non-traditional hours like healthcare workers or those in retail.

    Those hours won’t work for many of those parents. Some daycares will offer extended times like later pickup but usually at an additional charge.

    Make sure you know what the hours of operations are for your daycare and how long it will take you to drop your kid off at the daycare to get to work.

    Also, know how long it will take you to get them from daycare when coming back from work.

    Holiday Hours

    Many daycares are not open during major holidays, but unfortunately, many parents have to work. 

    Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year, 4th of July are some of the days your daycare could be closed, but you still have to work.

    When deciding on a daycare, make sure you know what those days are and figure out a plan ahead of time if you have to work during that day.

    Learned Behavior In Daycare

    A study of Early Child Care research being done by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) found that more time spent in daycares increases the likelihood that a child will have behaviour problems such as aggressive behaviour (source).

    Your Child Is Going To Be Sick More Often

    Daycare is a breeding ground for germs, no matter how clean they are (or say they are).

    Your child would be exposed to more viruses, bacterias, and germs at the daycare than they ever will if they were at home with you.

    It doesn’t help that many parents are now not vaccinating their kids (source).

    This will ultimately lead to increased visits to urgent care, emergency room, and your pediatrician.

    It also means higher healthcare costs for you and more sick time usage.

    Daycare Sick Policies

    It’s bad enough that your child will be sick more often, but it also means you won’t be able to drop them off at the daycare.

    Many daycares have stringent policies on sick children. So it’s understandable why the policy is in place.

    Unfortunately, it does mean if your child is sick, you will either have to take sick leave or make arrangements for someone else to watch your kid.

    Did we mention you’re still going to be paying for those days your child was absent?

    Your Child’s Reaction To Daycare

    Your child’s personality will determine how well they’re going to react to daycare.

    Unfortunately, many children do not respond well to daycare initially. In addition, some kids require a more extended adjustment period.

    This means a fussier child at daycare and a more fretful child at home.

    Less Quality Time With Your Child


    One of the significant downsides of daycares is that you’re not going to be spending a lot of time with your child, which unfortunately means you’re going to miss some significant milestones.

    You’re Going To Miss Major Milestones

    If your child spends any decent amount of time in daycare, the likelihood of you missing more than a few milestones is very likely.

    You’re going to miss the very first words, the first steps, and so on.

    If it’s not a big deal, then no worries, but it’s something to think about.

    Your Private Life Won’t Be So Private.

    One of the things we might not realise, but it will make sense, is that kids that know how to talk tend to talk a little too much to daycare workers.

    What we mean is that if your child hears your private conversation, even if you think they’re not listening, they are, and they’re going to repeat it later.

    Questionable Behaviors By Daycare Workers And The Facility

    If you pay attention to the news, some shady and questionable things are going on in daycares.

    Some daycares, while they put on this front, aren’t all they say they are.

    If you do some quick online searches, it won’t take you long to find news articles or testimonials with some of these claims:

    • Security is lax
    • Daycare workers are underpaid and overworked
    • Toys and Daycare furniture not being sanitised
    • Advertised nutritious food is not nutritious at all
    • Being out of caregiver to child ratio
    • Unsafe environment
    • Activities are not as stimulating or educational as advertised

    Inflexible Hours

    While daycare offers dependable care, it doesn’t necessarily provide flexible care. 

    Daycare centres have set hours that may not match parents’ work hours or accommodate a parent’s need to stay late at work. 

    Centres that offer late pickups often charge a premium for convenience.

    High Cost Of Quality Care

    Studies show there is a big difference between low-quality and high-quality daycare. High-quality daycare centres do not come cheap. 

    They can often cost as much or even more than a year of a college education at a four-year university.

    Behavioural Problems

    The NICHD study found that kids who attend daycare may have more behaviour problems at age 4—such as disobedience and aggression—than kids cared for by a parent or other caregiver.


    Unlike childcare in your home, daycare requires a drop-off and pickup, which isn’t always convenient for time-stretched parents. 

    Additionally, daycare centres have strict sick policies (germ control!), which means parents need to find alternative childcare if their child isn’t feeling well.


    Especially for infants who haven’t built up their immune systems yet, attending a childcare facility can result in quickly catching colds and other contagious illnesses. 

    If your child gets sick, the facility will likely ask you to keep her home, which means you’ll need to take the day off or find alternate childcare until she is well.

    Less Individual Attention

    Compared with a nanny or family-member care, teachers at most childcare facilities care for at least three children at a time (often more).

    Waiting Lists

    It’s common for quality childcare programs to be complete and unable to guarantee your child a spot.


    While considerably less expensive than a nanny, childcare programs can cost a pretty penny. 

    Prices vary depending on where you live, but the average cost of a full-time, quality childcare program for babies and toddlers is about $11,000 per year. 

    Costs can also creep up if you’re late picking up your child, or if she is sick and you miss work or pay someone else to stay home with her.

    High Turnover 

    This is a common drawback of childcare programs, especially for infants, who rely on attachment to caregivers for optimal development.

    Evaluating Your Own Pros And Cons

    Every child responds to care and benefits differently due to his unique nature and needs, so you’ll want to create your list of pros and cons for daycare. 

    If you decide daycare is the right choice for your family, talk with family and friends for referrals and visit centres to evaluate facilities, programs, and instructors.

    Drawbacks of childcare programs:
    • Attending a childcare facility often results in illness. ...
    • There's less individual attention.
    • Waiting lists are common.
    • Childcare programs can be costly.
    • Childcare facilities often face high staff turnover, which can make it difficult for children to form healthy attachments.

    A daycare provides children with opportunities to play and socialize with other kids their age. Being able to work with others shows them how to have better behaviors and teaches them to become team players. They learn how to share, play and learn well together while their personalities emerge and minds grow.

    Regarding cognitive development, studies have found negative effects, no significant links, and positive daycare effects. Research has shown that daycare hinders the quality of parent-child relations, does not hinder it, that the adverse effects are small and transitory, or intermittent.

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