Nanny vs. Daycare: Which Is Right For You and Your Child? - Baby Chick

Nanny vs. Daycare: Which Is Right For You and Your Child?

Learn about some of the most important factors to consider if your family is looking to decide between a nanny vs. daycare.

Published December 5, 2023
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When we leave our children with someone else, we want them to be cared for with the same love we give them. It can sometimes be overwhelming and daunting to find the perfect childcare fit for our families, and many families look at nanny vs. daycare options to determine the best fit. They each offer unique features and benefits but may also have drawbacks.

So how do you choose? Families must determine the most important factors when deciding between a nanny vs. daycare. Do they want someone in their home to care for their child, or do they prefer to take their child somewhere outside the home? Do the parents work hours that coincide with daycare dropoff and pickup times, or would that be a challenge? How important is it to be around other children? And one of the most significant factors for a family is cost. This is a lot to think about and consider, so we’ll help break down the issue of choosing between a nanny vs. daycare.

Pros and Cons of Daycare

A childcare provider of Indian decent, sits with a large group of babies as she read them a book in their classroom.

Daycares have been around for a long time. They are often an excellent solution for working parents, as it’s a secure place to take their children. Here are some of their pros and cons:

Pros of Daycare

Some parents seek licensing before enrolling their infant or young child in a daycare setting. Depending on the state, a daycare must meet specific guidelines to maintain that license. This often gives parents a sense of comfort.

Daycare typically has regular hours that parents can drop off and pick up their children. Most places will give parents ample notice to make other arrangements if they will be closed for any reason.

Many parents will choose daycare for toddlers so they can be around other children their age and build social and interpersonal skills. As children get older, many daycare providers offer educational programs and curricula that help prepare them for classroom success as they begin elementary school. Daycare helps children with skills like patience while waiting in line and raising their hands, which will come in handy as they age.

Cons of Daycare

When there are a lot of children, that can mean exposure to more germs. Some parents find that daycare for infants and older children can be challenging, with many other friends passing illnesses around. Daycare can be a breeding ground for viruses that often sweep through facilities quickly and make many kids sick.1

Daycare hours might not work for every family. Some facilities stick to precise hours, and if a parent’s job doesn’t fit within that schedule, they may not be able to choose a particular daycare center.

Daycare can also be expensive, particularly for infants. Some facilities may have additional fees for things like diapers or formula. Many have begun to offer discounts on daycare for toddlers and older children, but the cost is often a significant factor for families.

Costs of Daycare

To examine this further, it is helpful to use resources like the U.S. Department of Labor, which provides the cost of daycare on its National Database of Childcare Prices website. This site gives information on the cost of daycare in many counties throughout the U.S. In January 2023, a Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor report said daycare costs vary substantially across the U.S., from $5,357 to $15,417 per year.2

In addition, the Economic Policy Institute is also a helpful resource. It breaks down costs and gives specific information for parents looking for prices in their state.

Pros and Cons of a Nanny

Nanny looking at a child playing with an educational didactic toy. Preschool teacher with a child playing with didactic toys.

Many families like to use a personal nanny vs. a daycare because it gives families more one-on-one attention than daycare centers. Let’s look at the pros and cons of nannies:

Pros of a Nanny

A nanny offers families the ability to be a bit more flexible. Depending on the family’s needs, they may only need a part-time nanny, while others would like a full-time nanny. Some families even have a nanny live with them to give their children more attention. Because a nanny isn’t tied to a specific facility, children can go places with a nanny and experience more adventures than in a daycare center.

Nannies can also develop deeper interpersonal connections with the children they care for and their parents. Nannies often become part of the family and are with children from infancy until they are ready to go to school and, sometimes, beyond.

Sometimes, the costs of a nanny are more reasonable than a daycare center because they can be more flexible, and families may not be tied to a strict schedule, particularly with a part-time nanny.

Cons of a Nanny

Once again, depending on the situation, the costs of a nanny vs. daycare may be prohibitive for some families. Some nannies like to be paid by the hour, and others want a set salary. Figuring out how much a nanny costs and setting up taxes can overwhelm families.

If you have a part-time nanny, they may have another job that could interfere with a family’s schedule. Sometimes, nannies will juggle multiple families to make more money, which could lead to scheduling conflicts. Also, if a nanny is a family’s only source of childcare and they are sick or unable to care for the children on a specific day, it can leave parents in a lurch.

Costs of a Nanny

There are many things to consider regarding the costs of a nanny. Some nannies expect an hourly wage and a minimum number of hours per day, week, or month. According to the 2022 Care.com Cost of Care survey, the average childcare cost for one child in 2021 was $694 per week for a nanny, significantly higher than the reported average of $226 per week for a daycare center per the study.

Questions To Ask

Parents need to be prepared with questions when making childcare decisions for their families. Here are a few questions that you can ask daycare centers:

  • How much are the weekly rates? Do they change as a child grows?
  • Are there upcharges for diapers or formula?
  • Is there a discount for potty-trained children?
  • Is the facility accredited and state-inspected?
  • Have all employees had a background check, and are they fully vetted?
  • What is the employee retention rate? If there is a lot of turnover, why?
  • Do families generally stay with the facility long-term?
  • What type of curriculum does the facility offer?
  • Is there a waiting list for newborns?

And here are some questions for nannies:

  • What is their experience, and can they provide a list of references?
  • Are they looking for full- or part-time work, and do they currently work with other families or have another job?
  • Do they have reliable transportation and a clean driving record?
  • Are they willing to undergo a background check?
  • Do they plan on being a nanny long-term, or is nannying a part-time employment solution?
  • How do they plan to enrich the family’s life?

Choosing between hiring a nanny or using a daycare can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Doing your research, including talking with family and friends about their experiences, is essential. Ask for recommendations from loved ones and co-workers. Work out a reasonable budget so you don’t get your heart set on something financially unattainable for your family. But, most of all, follow your heart. When it feels right for you and your family, you will know.

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Colleen Dilthey Thomas is a mother of four, three boys and one girl, and a freelance writer. She offers her life experience and a bit of wisdom to a variety… Read more

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