Sharing the factors which we had considered at different stages of finding care for our child. So if you are thinking about “how to choose between nanny and daycare,” please read on. You may also download a PDF worksheet that I’ve created to ease the selection.
We all want the best for our children; therefore, we want to make the choices for them carefully. Until they are grown up enough to make them themselves – (looks too distant!) With so many decisions to take, it can be exhausting, and there is a term for it – decision fatigue. I’ve discussed it in a few posts.
Like all of the kids’ decisions, I believe “how to choose between nanny and daycare” is highly dependent on our circumstances, the kid’s personality, and the parents.
We all have different situations, and the choices, therefore, become subjective. But I think having a list of factors organized can be beneficial to make the decision more relaxed. Hence I’ve put together the factors which we had considered at different stages of finding care for our child.
Available Options for Professional Help with Childcare
If, as a new parent, you are returning to work and seeking assistance with child care, there are a few options available that can be confusing.
(a) Day Nanny – Typically comes during the work hours (~ 9-5) and in some cases, can help with light chores at home too.
(b) Babysitter for partial day care – Can offer care for a few hours every day ( ~ 9-12, before the child takes a nap)
(c) Live-in nanny – Stays overnight and takes on much more of chores at home too.
(d) Home-based Daycare – A care provider who is licensed to take care of children at her own home. She typically might have a few helpers, and the environment is more warm and home-like. It is an arrangement standing between a nanny and a school.
(e) Preschool-kind professional Daycare – These daycares feel more like school, with a professional setup, more facilities, but less personal touch. What to look out for is that the teachers might not be permanent there, and that is something that might be significant for the child. They like familiar faces/surroundings when too young. One of my friend’s children would stick to one helper at the Daycare – every day for a few months.
Worksheet – “Choose between Nanny and Daycare”
Where to look for Nanny or Daycare?
Nanny: Post on social media to look for referrals. Care.com or other such websites in your country can be a great professional network with registered nannies, background checked, and convenience of booking.
Daycare: This one is easier to find on the internet. You may search on Google, with reviews, visit them during an open house, visit when kids are there and see how the care is — of course, asking friends and family on social media works (and preferred) here too.
When to start looking for Nanny or Daycare?
The earlier, the better! However, I started looking for a month and a half before I was planning to return to work. Why? Usually, there is a one month notice period for a nanny, and you may want her to start when you are still home to make sure that the child sees a little overlap, and the transition is smoother for the baby.
A few daycares have a long wait time, and you might want to be aware and apply for those if they are on your radar. I recommend that you visit daycares well ahead of time primarily because of availability, but also to assess if you and the child are ready for it.
Our Nanny/Daycare arrangement in a Nutshell
When our son was six months old until he turned ten months old, we had a nanny come and take care of him during the daytime. However, with the nanny, we were lucky to have one grandparent or the other throughout.
We had planned to have a nanny until our son turned a year and a half. But at ten months, he was showing clear signs of being bored at home with the nanny. He was no more excited to see her, loved when we took him out or when we had other kids come home.
Therefore we decided to transition him to Daycare. He enjoyed it there, and we moved him to a preschool when he turned two and a half. At each step, there were key factors that we considered, and I’m listing them down below. Also included is a worksheet for you to write and make the decision easier.
Steps that we followed
- Shortlist nannies and daycares based on referrals or social network, or the internet.
- Visit daycares and meet a couple of nannies – within three-four visits/meetings, you’d hopefully bend towards what kind of setup suits your child.
- Interact with both Nannies and Daycares with an open mind.
- If deciding between a Nanny and Daycare, you may choose to jot down your thoughts below to help with the choice.
- Please identify the factors which are crucial for you and prioritize accordingly.
You may download the worksheet below to choose between nanny and daycare. It is derived from our own discussion and notes while making this choice for our son.
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“How to Choose between Nanny and Daycare” –
10 Factors to Consider
1. One-to-one personal Interaction
Desiring personal attention for your child is an obvious one and swings in favor of having a nanny. We expect an excellent nanny to ensure a high degree of care for our child. However, care is such a subjective term. Therefore if you’ve decided in favor of having a nanny, please interview nannies, and you might still find a daycare with fewer kids and a warm caregiver who can provide exceptional care to 3-4 kids with ease. So, I would keep an open mind in this category.
In general, we expect a Nanny to be better for personal care, but home-based daycares with few kids might also be more than satisfactory.
Safety is of paramount concern to each of us. For the first child, we are very sensitive, and I get that. But as the cliche goes – it is to be safe than sorry.
Make sure that there is a policy that is discussed with you.
Look for reviews, speak with the staff and the parents.
If possible, you may want to install cameras with the nanny (Sorry, if sounding a cynic).
Look for reviews, speak with the parents where she worked before.
Regardless of nanny or Daycare, background check or research is crucial. Background research should ideally be our first step in narrowing down the list for caregivers.
3. Child’s Comfort
Getting ready, sitting in the car, and going to the Daycare sets a routine but can be a little strenuous for the child. Especially when the child is young, the commute can be straining.
For our son, the nanny used to come over, and he continued to sleep and have known surroundings. The anxiety for the child’s commute is lower with the nanny. We got used to the daycare drill eventually, but in the beginning, getting him ready and out of the home was a challenge!
If you decide in favor of a nanny, the child’s comfort with her is also paramount. Please try for a week of overlap between a parent and the nanny before transitioning. A week should typically be good enough to assess if the child will be comfortable with the nanny.
If the child is not comfortable during the commute or with the nanny, the arrangement might not last long. If you decide for Daycare, keeping the commute short for the child might help. For the nanny, please try for a week of overlap between a parent and the nanny before transitioning.
As I mentioned in the previous post on selecting a preschool, if you have a reference coming from a friend/family, nothing like it. That will at least make sure that your child will be safe. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any, so we had to make sure and visit the Daycare many times over, come home early for the nanny, etc.
We asked the daycare owner to let us know other parents’ contacts and spoke with them to get details. Regarding the nanny, too, a referral is the best! Else, it is good to ask them where they were working before yours and speak to the parents.
If I get a referral for either the nanny or Daycare, I would give that a priority.
5. Parents’ Convenience
As a new parent, one already has a lot on the plate. When the child is too young, just getting her ready, seated in the car and on the road can be challenging. Especially when the child is less than a year old. Our son hated the car seat. So, for us, Daycare itself was great, but getting there was a considerable feat, which was incredibly draining.
Especially if you are a new mom returning to work, transitioning simultaneously to Daycare might be a lot to take – just a heads up.
Having a nanny come home and take care of the child is usually way more convenient than getting a child ready, dropping her off to Daycare, and going to work.
6. Social Interaction
Interaction with other kids during the day one is the most significant consideration that swings one in favor of Daycare. As I already mentioned above, we transitioned to Daycare because of this very reason.
Although an important factor, if you must have a nanny, there are different workarounds like parks, playdates over the weekend, children’s museums, baby music classes, etc.
Daycare is undoubtedly better for a child’s interaction with other kids and being more social, but if you must go for a nanny, there are workarounds.
7. Financial Concerns
Daycare is generally less expensive than a nanny. Understandably, the nanny has complete responsibility for the child, and the fee for Daycare is therefore lower.
The daycare fee is generally less expensive than a nanny, but unless the cost is strikingly different, if manageable, I would consider other factors.
8. Time of the year
We had underestimated this factor when we sent our child to Daycare. It gives me shivers thinking about it. The first time that we had sent our child to Daycare, it was the month of November, and the flu season was around the corner. With low immunity, he caught infections, and we weren’t prepared.
I was recommended by my colleague at work to transition in Spring. I wish I had paid heed to his advice and waited for 2-3 months before moving to the Daycare and saved us flu’s wrath on our son and falling sick multiple times over.
They can catch infections anytime, but flu season might be a tad bit worse. Keeping in mind the time of the year while transitioning can help a lot with the child’s health and overall calm for the family.
Please be mindful of the flu season and defer the transition into a daycare a bit, if possible.
9. Food/Food Habits/Weaning
At a daycare, aligning the feeding philosophy might be more challenging than the nanny at home. For our nanny, I had requested that she let our son feed himself at times, but at Daycare, our request didn’t work because they stuck to feeding the child as young as his.
So, if you are particular about food, you might want to check with the Daycare before making the final choice.
If you have specific food or feeding-style preference for your child, it is easier to have that specified to a nanny. For Daycare, it might help to discuss the same.
Language is a valid point that my sister had raised to me. To many parents, the language in which the caregiver interacts in with the child might be crucial. Especially in those first years of growing up, it may be useful to know and interacted with in the mother tongue.
So, when looking out for care, you may want to inquire about the language that the providers interact in and state your preference if any. Of course, this is only when it is an important factor to you.
A Parting Note
Please do your due diligence to choose between nanny and daycare. Please make sure that your child is safe and thriving. But beyond that, worry less! This post is to help you spend a thought or two on the factors and ease the process.
Here’s wishing the best for your child and hope this post is of use!