Nanny vs. Daycare

Your best friend may swear by nannies, while your sister believes that daycare is preparing her children for the Ivy League. So how do you choose which type of care is best for your family?

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Group care and “schooling” at a young age can be an incredible and valuable experience for many children and families. Daycares are often more affordable and boast quality care with structured classroom learning. They also provide the opportunity for socialization and experiences that are hard to recreate in a home environment with only one child. On the other hand, daycare can be a struggle for parents who are passionate about their child’s care being handled with a specific childrearing approach and on a schedule of their choosing. Also, some children may struggle with minimal one-on-one attention, over-stimulation, and health concerns in a daycare.

One of the main advantages of a nanny is that she is able to focus her attention and affection solely on your child’s needs, while complying with your instructions and beliefs for education. A nanny can work on a schedule that best fits your life, and may assist in keeping your home environment in order, allowing you to spend your time on the things that matter most. But keep in mind that this situation is only as good as the nanny herself! Parents need to consider that it can be more expensive and complicated to have an in-home employee. Time and effort needs to be invested into the hiring and training process ensuring that you find the best fit caregiver and work is required throughout the period of employment for maintaining healthy communication.

So, is daycare or a nanny better for your family?

Here are three tips to deciding which type of care is right for you:

Assess your family

Because there is no right or wrong answer to the nanny vs. daycare debate, you need to consider the lifestyle and culture of your unique family. This will help you think through the type of care your family will need as well as what types of caregivers will best blend with your family dynamics. Go beyond the basics of your schedule, needs and budget to ask questions such as:

  • What type of environment and caregiver do you prefer for yourself and want for your baby? Calm, quiet and nurturing or active, fun and engaging?

  • What is your communication, management and conflict resolution style?

  • Are you organized and scheduled or do you have a naturally flexible attitude?

  • Do you have strong emotions or beliefs related to certain parenting styles or educational and child raising philosophies?

  • What are your views on immunizations, cleanliness, and germs?

  • What are your concerns (both rational and emotional) related to childcare?

Do your research

Research the childcare market and interview both daycare and nannies. It is extremely important to understand the benefits and challenges of both daycares and nannies and how it pertains to your family and child now as well as in future developmental stages. If choosing a nanny, be sure to research the local market rate of pay, your legal obligations as a nanny employer and the employment benefit package that many quality nannies expect to determine what will fit your family’s budget.

Go with your gut

Only after you have thoroughly considered your needs and researched the market, go with your "mommy (or daddy) intuition". Both options will feel uncomfortable in the beginning until you get to know the caregivers and trust them…and trust is something that is earned over time with relationship and good, reliable experiences. So give it a try and know that good and bad days will come with both daycare and nanny so it really becomes about which is best for you.

Holly Flanders is a Hoboken mom, and owner of Choice Parenting, Childcare Consulting Service. For assistance, questions or to schedule one-on-one coaching or group class, visit