Daycare or Nanny? The Pros and Cons of Each

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We’re so thankful for maternity leave (and paternity leave!) for giving us baby bonding time and allowing us to get used to being parents. The time flies, though, and before you know it, your job beckons. Going back to work means that you need to find someone to care for your little one during the day.
Some lucky parents have it made: they have family members who can watch after the baby. However, for most working parents, the childcare question comes down to two options: daycare or a nanny. The right choice for you and your family depends on a number of factors. Here are the pros and cons of each.
One of the biggest pros of daycare is cost — depending on where you live and what specific rates you’re given, daycare can be half as much as a nanny. Daycares also have tons of great toys and lots to do; they’re a stimulating environment for kids of all ages.
This setting also teaches kids right away the importance of getting along with other kids, waiting their turn, and learning good social skills. Also with daycare, you know when it opens and when it closes, and if one of the daycare employees happens to call in sick for the day, you’re not stuck taking a personal day to stay home with your baby.
A big downside of daycare is the limited one-on-on time that your child will get. Daycare staff are typically busy with lots of kids at once, meaning they’re not able to spend a lot of individual time with any one child. Also, daycares are notorious breeding grounds for all sorts of viruses. Sending your child to one may mean a lot of sick days. Plus, when your child is in daycare, you have to provide all the essentials: diapers, extra clothes, and food.
With a nanny, you know that your child will get lots of individualized attention. You can ask your nanny to help you enforce certain behaviors or help teach your child certain things — they’re your employee, so you can guide the interactions. All of the things your nanny will need are already at your house, too, so there’s no hauling supplies from your home to daycare. Plus, you know exactly who is with your child.
Another plus with a nanny is that you’re not exposing your child to the myriad germs present in all daycare facilities, which means they’re a lot less likely to get sick. (Yes, they’ll get exposed to germs in preschool, but a three year old is much better equipped to fight off illness than a three month old.) Finally, if your nanny is flexible, you may have a reliable babysitter for evenings.
Of course, hiring a nanny is considerably more expensive than daycare — all that one on one attention comes at a premium. There’s also the time you need to spend to find the right person, so that means posting a job, sifting through résumés, and interviewing.
A big downside of having a nanny is that you’re dependent on one person who can become unavailable with no warning. Illness, car troubles, or other emergencies can crop up in your nanny’s life, all of which can suddenly leave you with no one to take care of your child while you need to work.
Is a nanny or daycare best? Ultimately, the best decision for you depends on your budget and your approach to child rearing. You’ll find parents who swear by daycare, and you’ll also find parents who insist that a reliable and trusted nanny is the only way to go. But when you’re deciding who will care for your child, the correct choice is the one that feels right for you and your family.