Nanny vs. Daycare: How to Decide Which is Best for Your Family

written by ERIN CELLETTI
nanny vs daycare how to decide"
nanny vs daycare how to decide
Source: Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

Being a parent comes with a never-ending chain of decision-making, from the smallest (like which flavor pouch are you giving your little today) to the bigger, more important questions surrounding who will help support you in caring for your child.  

For working parents, this typically means choosing between a daycare setting or utilizing a nanny. With these two popular childcare options to choose from, it may at first seem like the choice is easy—and for some families, it is. But for others, it can be a difficult choice filled with weighing the pros and cons of nanny vs. daycare, the finances involved, and really deciding which environment is best for your child and your family.

While each choice has its own advantages and considerations, it’s important to weigh them carefully to ensure you find the right environment for the development and well-being of your child.

Here, we discuss the key factors to consider when weighing a nanny vs. daycare for your little one. 


Nanny vs. Daycare: How To Decide


Individual Care

One of the biggest perks about having a nanny is the 1:1 care they can provide for your child and family. They can be mindful of your baby’s unique schedule for naps, meals, and playtime and can be adaptable to their ever-changing needs. In a daycare setting, there’s typically a small ratio of children to adult caregivers and your child won’t have that individual, constant stimulation they may seek. If individual care and attention are a priority for you, then a nanny just might be the answer. But if you prefer a group setting for learning, playing, and socializing then a daycare provides that environment, and more.


Nanny vs daycare

Source: Shutterstock


Cost and Budget

Generally speaking for one child, daycare is more affordable than a single caregiver. But when you have more than one child, costs rise and the reverse becomes true. Though a lot of childcare facilities will offer sibling discounts, it’s still quite a large expense. While a nanny may increase their pricing a bit for more than one child, it’s usually not as significant as two daycare tuitions. Plus, if you like the idea of siblings being together most of the day, they will be together with a nanny but may have separate “classes” due to age in a daycare.

One way to make nanny care more affordable is to  “nanny share”, where two families hire a nanny together. Families split pay, may split days of the week at each others’ homes, etc. Some additional expenses to consider for a nanny share include investing in an extra sleeping area, a high chair, and a double stroller or wagon. 

Consider your budget and financial circumstances when evaluating which option is most feasible for your family.


Socialization and Structure

Socialization is a huge part of growing up as little ones learn about the world and adapt to change. Proper socialization is critical to developing and reinforcing social and emotional skills that will prepare your child for the future. Daycare settings offer kiddos the chance to interact with their peers and provide a diverse environment for learning that includes group activities, playtime, and cooperation on a daily basis, whereas nannies can participate in playgroups and classes—it’s typically for a smaller portion of the day.

A daycare setting can also limit the amount of “say” that you have in your little one’s day. If you are hoping to have more of a role in your child’s daily routine and activities, that is best accomplished through a nanny.

Conversely, a lot of daycares follow research-based, tried-and-true curriculums or educational philosophies that can help your little one thrive. If this is more appealing, the more structured day may work better for you.



Source: Shutterstock


Convenience and Location

You’ve heard it before, “location, location, location.” Usually, a phrase reserved for real estate, it’s also extremely important when it comes to childcare. Whether you commute or work from home, finding childcare in a convenient location to where you need to be is a huge factor in deciding between using a daycare or a nanny.

Is there a daycare right near your office? That’s great! Unless you need childcare on days you don’t go into the office, there’s significant inclement weather, or when you’re sick, etc. By the same token, having a nanny in your home and in your space can be tough if you work from home and need peace and quiet to get things done, take phone calls, etc. 


Flexibility and Reliability

There’s nothing worse than when your child is sick—unless of course, your child is sick, you still have to go to work, and you’re struggling to find care. That adds an extra layer of stress.

The general rule of thumb is that you can’t send your child to daycare when they are sick or have active symptoms, which makes complete sense but also leaves you in a bind. Where a nanny can still come over and help you care for a sick kiddo, daycares are not an option when your little one is ill. Then, there’s also the germ “waiting period” (as we like to call it) to consider—that all new daycare kiddos go through a series of sicknesses as they adjust, but it’s supposed to help their immune systems in the long run… right?

Deciding between using a nanny or daycare is a pretty significant decision for you and your family. But the good news? Neither is permanent. If you end up selecting a nanny or daycare and the situation isn’t vibing with your family or kiddo, you can always make a change. (You may lose out on some money depending on contracts or agreements, but you can still make the switch.) Remember that every family’s circumstances are unique, and there is no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to what works best.

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