Nanny vs. Daycare — The Bump
Working Moms

Nanny vs. Daycare

My husband and I both work full time and both will continue in our careers once baby gets here in December. Our first reaction was to have a nanny at home which is how I grew up at least until 3/4 when they can go to prek. I just can't stand the thought of my newborn at a daycare center and not having one on one attention! I know the cost of the nanny will likely be more but I truly believe it's the safer way to go.

Any thoughts from moms with a nanny?

Re: Nanny vs. Daycare

  • A lot of women on here have their LO's in DC's they are very happy with.  I wouldn't say having a nanny is necessarily safer - my friend had a horrible and very unsafe experience with her nanny.  Remember with a nanny you are leaving someone unsupervised with your child - in a center, there are generally multiple adults, strict rules and standards to follow, a director overseeing everything, etc.

    Which way you go is all about personal preference and what is available where you live, IMO. I would look into both options - tour some centers, and some in-home daycares, and look to see what nannies run in your area.  Go with whatever feels best for your situation.

    We have done both and I preferred a nanny, mostly for the convenience and the fact that my child was sick a lot less than he had been when in DC. 


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  • litzo27litzo27 member

    You can have a wonderful nanny and a wonderful center. And conversely a horrible nanny and a horrible center. The advantages of the nanny are more one on one attention, less exposure to viruses, logistical ease of having someone in your home (vs. packing up, picking up, etc.), not having to take time off when baby is sick, among others. For me also the advantages included having my native language taught as the first language by the caregiver as well as myself, and since I was able to work from home a portion of the first year I was able to nurse vs. pump more. 

    The advantages of the center are lower cost, more social interaction, building up immunity to viruses earlier, no hassle in terms of having background checks and such done for you, lots of eyes on the care given at any given time (director, other teachers, parents, etc.). 

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  • I prefer a center because I'm too paranoid that we'd get a crazy nanny who would harm my child.  I like that at our center, there are several adults watching DS at any given time.
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  • I don't have experience with a nanny, but I did send DD to a SAHM who watched only one other kid because I wasn't comfortable with her in a daycare.  When I had DS I wanted DD around more kids and I didn't want to do 2 drop offs, so they both went to daycare.  I've had really no major complaints about it, neither kid is sick, they always seem happy and enjoy being around the other kids.  I did stay home with both of them until they were 6 months, I'd definitely be less comfortable leaving my 6 week old in daycare, but I feel like once they're a little more stable it's not a bad situation.
  • I went back to work when DS was 11 months old. He had a nanny for about 4 months, then we switched to a daycare setting. I really liked that the nanny kept him on his own schedule in our house, but he got to a point where he needed more interaction with other kids.

    ~ Married 10.30.04 ~
    DS1 born 12.31.11 ~ DS2 born 2.4.14

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  • shannmshannm member
    I prefer a center because I'm too paranoid that we'd get a crazy nanny who would harm my child.nbsp; I like that at our center, there are several adults watching DS at any given time.

    This is my biggest pro as well, the accountability factor. However, we have recently considered a nanny. It was much easier to consider this when we actually knew the women we were considering. Ironically, we met them through daycare/preK.

  • thedashthedash member
    We have an unusual arrangement because the woman I call his nanny doesn't come to our home, we drop him off at her house. But she only watches DS and used to work in a preschool so she does a lot of developmental and educational stuff. I love her and was happy with the individual attention. However, DS definitely misses out on interaction with other kids despite the play dates she takes him to. He is starting preschool parttime this fall because I think he really needs more structure and interaction.
    DS: 2/17/11          DD: 9/4/13
  • We had the ideal situation.  Our neighbors (3 kids) had the same nanny for over 4 years and she was willing to also watch our DD.  So there was a big comfort factor knowing she worked for them for so long and the kids loved her (and I also go to know her).  So for the first year of DD's life, I simply walked her next door and she was there all day....also great she had interaction with the other kids.

    But we knew this would only be our arrangement for year because they nanny was taking a new job closer to her home.  So when DD was about 14 months old we changed to a center. 

    I did love having DD with a nanny for the first year and having her right next door (I work from home).  But the downside was sometimes the nanny was late and when she was sick, we needed backup care.

    We love our center and all the interaction DD gets.  And that there's no worry about nanny being late or sick.

    Maybe look into a nanny share.  Less money and interaction with other kids. 

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  • FemShepFemShep member

    There are great nannies and terrible nannies.  There are great centers and terrible centers.  OP, your post about a nanny being "safer" is borderline offensive and frankly mis-informed.  At most large centers, a single caregiver is never left alone with a child.  The classrooms have large observation windows.  The classrooms often have webcams.  A child's caregiver at a good center has *way* more supervision and oversight than a nanny would.  

    DD2, 11 months, is in a center and has been since 10 weeks.  She loves it and her teachers adore her.  She seriously starts giggling when she sees the center in the morning.  I'm also surprised to see how much she thrives on socialization.  While there's only parallel play at this age, when I dropped her off the other day, her friend crawled over and immediately started "chatting" with her.  This morning I was talking with her teacher about how DD and another baby "play" peekaboo with each other.  For us, this center is great-but it's a large center, near public transportation, and I have flexible hours so working within their schedule is fine.

    At my previous job, before we had DD2, we had a nanny who picked DD1 (7 at the time) up from school, took her to any activities, helped her with homework, and took care of her before we got home. My hours were longer and unpredictable, so she was a huge help.  That said, we had a very bad experience with the nanny (who passed a background check and drivers license check) and the experience made me somewhat distrustful of unsupervised caregivers, especially for very young children. 

    Bottom line, you can find great options for whatever you choose.  And there are horror stories for whatever care model you choose.  But if you only want the "safer" option, it's not necessarily a nanny. 

  • I love our nanny, we looked into daycare, H staying home and the nanny option.  Having a nanny makes my life so much easier, besides providing wonderful care for E, she will do all our laundry and light cleaning while E naps.  I also have a flexible schedule, so some days I need the flexibility of someone to come earlier or stay later, you don't necessarily have that with a center. 

    Another big factor in our decision was daycare centers around us.  We live outside a big city, but we're a small town and there were not a lot of good options near us.  The center we wanted would have turned H's 20 min commute into at least an hr.  When I travel, I go 1-3 hrs in the opposite direction, so I couldn't always do drop off or pick up.  We both work long days already, so we were willing to pay a nanny more to get extra time and make mornings less stressful.

    We love our nanny so much, we plan to keep her #2 is here, hopefully next summer, then send E to a preschool program (he will be 2.5, almost 3 next fall).  I do worry he is missing out on the social part, but we try to do lots of playdates on the weekends so he does see other kids his own age.  Our nanny just started driving with him, so this summer they will do story time, mygym and possibly swimming lessons.  

    laying down the law on Oahu's North Shore

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  • I was very anti daycare when we were looking for care for DS (he'll be 3 in September). We interviewed an in home setting (a friend of a friend, someone I knew casually for several years), and found it wasn't a situation I was happy with. We visited a small center (41 kids max) run by our pediatrician. It was amazing. DS is still at this center. There have been some down times, but for the most part, DS gets excellent care, he is happy a happy, polite kid, and some of that comes from where he is 11 hours a day while DH and I work. We aren't hesitating to put second LO there (due in Dec), In fact, if our situation didn't allow us to keep LO home for the first 4 months like we did DS, I still wouldn't hesitate to put this LO there as early as necessary, but I know the infant room teacher well (she was DS's teacher when he was in that classroom), and she is truly a wonderful caregiver who has been with the center since it opened over 10 years ago. 
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  • I could not justify the cost of a nanny over DC.  DC here is insanely cheap compared to what many pay ($640/month).  DS was in a room with two other children until this week; he is now in a room with three other children.  For the first few months he was the only baby, so he was cared for one on one until he was about 6 months old.  When the two other babies did arrive they were a few months younger and their nap schedules differed, so for a couple hours a day DS still got one on one care.  I feel like we got the best of both worlds there!

    When we move the cost will be higher, but at this stage, we will plan on enrolling DS in a Montessori.  That might change if a PT nanny (3 afternoons a week for my two school age children) + Montessori is comparable cost.  My point is, cost is the key factor for me because the care has been excellent in DC.

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  • aeh72aeh72 member

    I don't think any of us could say with certainty that a nanny is a safer situation than a daycare center.  Sadly, the news reports stories all too often of terrible things happening to children in both types of care situations.  But, I get the fear factor - the idea of having to pick a stranger to leave your child with (no matter what the situation is) is gut wrenching.

    In a parallel situation, when we were lookin at DCs for our son, I was very, very uncomfortable with the idea of in-home daycare providers (due to worries about safety and oversight) and focused my initial seach only on chain daycare centers.  Because daycare centers in our area are so expensive, my husband encouraged me to also at least interview some in home providers before we made a final decision.  I'm so glad he did.  We found an amazing in-home DCP for DS. As soon as I met with her, all my fears about in-homes went out the window and I felt no reservations at all about leaving DS with her.  They love him and he loves them and he is thriving in an enviroment with other children that are his age and a little older.

    So, it really just has to come down with what fits best for your family and what you are most comfortable with.  But, maybe it's a good idea to explore both possibilities before you make a final decision.  That way you can know you've made an educated decision and not one based soley out of fear.

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  • I actually think DC is better for infants (it's a very "baby" atmosphere, they keep the kids entertained but not overwhelmed, they're great about naps and schedule, etc, plus multiple teachers mean much less risk of one caregiver getting overwhelmed if your kid has a fussy day/week).

    However, DC is a PITA for parents -- all the packing and schlepping, having to take off every time the kid is sick, etc.

    We've done both and I still don't know which I think is the better solution overall. 

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  • imageHilarityEnsued:

    However, DC is a PITA for parents -- all the packing and schlepping, having to take off every time the kid is sick, etc.

    What is a PITA?  We don't pack a single thing.  We just arrive in the morning with DS, and that's that.  

    Pain in the *ss.  There's the actual shlepping of the kids, who need to be up and dressed with hair brushed, etc (nanny can do all of that if you have a hectic morning).  At our daycare we're responsible for lunches and when DS was a baby we had to premake all of his bottles in a cooler bag.  Now we bring 2 sippy cups per day that come home.  All of that needs to get unpacked, cleaned out, and repacked in the evenings (nannies generally wash the bottles and clean up from all the food they feed kids during the day).  On Mondays we send clean sheets and blankets for both kids nap mats (nannies usually help with kid laundry and can change crib sheets themselves, using your linen closet).  In cold weather we deal with coats, hats, mittens, and sometimes boots with replacement "inside shoes."  In warm weather we do the first round of sunscreen.  Then there's the steady trickle of new diapers, wipes, or cream to bring in, spare clothes to change out, etc.  

    There's also just the time it takes to do the actual daycare drop off (walk the kids in, talk to the teachers, unpack the stuff, give a hug and then a second hug, etc).  Our DC is only 5 minutes from our house, but when we switched from in-home care to daycare, my commute went from 25 minutes to an hour. 

    Again, I'm not knocking daycare -- I think it has a lot of advantages.  But it is a much bigger hassle than a nanny. 

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  • ilanatilanat member
    LO is starting daycare on Monday, after he has been with a nanny for the past 15 months.  We liked the nanny, but we felt that he'd be happier with more stimulation and other kids and people.  The daycare we chose has a wonderful reputation and will give him a day packed with activities and fun.  There is a closed-off padded backyard filled with toys.  The teachers are licensed, CPR certified and experienced.  The director is a grandmother herself and very responsive whenever I call with questions.   As a first time mom, I also like that other experienced eyes will be on my kid. I also agree with previous poster that it is a bit weird to have someone other than myself, husband or family one-on-one with my child all day.  When he was an infant, it seemed to make more sense to us to have the nanny, but now that he is a "big boy," we think he's ready for a more exciting environment.  That said, I'm 6 weeks pregnant and I am wondering what we will do when the new baby comes.  I plan on paying attention to the infant room at the daycare center and would seriously consider sending both kids there when the time comes. 
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  • Everything the PP's have said about wonderful centers and nanny's and horrible centers and nanny's are true.

    If I had the choice of a nanny (which I don't b/c of cost) I would go with a nanny. To me, especially for young children under 2 or 3, or even 3 or 4, they don't benefit THAT much from being around other kids until they stop parallel play. The major downside of having a person unsupervised with your child - great references or not - I would address by maybe have my mom hang out with them sometimes until I got to know the nanny well and became comfortable, and I would also have a nanny cam several places in my house - which is a topic that has been discussed before and some people think it's nuts but IMO it's a must when you're leaving someone unsupervised with your child.

    This is all theoretical as I've said, but I've thought about what I would do if I got a big fat raise or won the lottery and this is it :)

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  • All the pros and cons to each have been laid out.

    We didn't factor cost in to our decision.  We chose daycare because of the socialization, oversight, and the different personalities, strenghts and skills that each teacher offers to enrich DD's life. 

    Yes, the first few months when DD was getting sick ALL the time were rough.  But I'd rather her go through that early on then in school when she would miss schoolwork and lessons.

  • We never considered daycare because it was really important to me that DS get one-on-one attention.  I also wanted him to be able to play with his own toys and nap in his own crib.  I sort of felt like I'm the one with the job who has to be out of the house 10 hours a day....there's no reason why he has to maintain the same schedule.

    I also love the convenience. I can barely get myself out the door in the mornings, never mind packing up an infant/toddler.  I like that someone is following my directions instead of me trying to follow DC rules.  I like that our nanny is teaching DS Spanish. I like that she cleans up after him, prepares his breakfast and lunch and does his laundry. She also does light housekeeping.

    In the fall, he'll be almost 3 and will attend pre-school 12 hours a week.  I'm already dreading making lunches and getting us both out the door for morning drop-offs!  The nanny will care for him the rest of the time. I still think he's too young to be out of the house all day, so we're opting to keep the nanny.  Honestly, I imagine we'll have a nanny until he goes to kindergarten.  It just works for us. 

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  • We had a nanny for our DS when I went back to work @ 3 months. This worked out well because she lived in my neighborhood (I already knew her very well) and she could accomodate my hectic schedule.  We moved when my DS was 14 months and I was not comfortable having a stranger in my home with my child so I visited a few local DC's and found one that I really was comfortable with. My DS has been going there ever since and he loves it! He will be starting Kindergarten in September and will go there after school. I'm planning on staying home again until this baby is 3 months and then he/she will go to the same DC. Both options have their pros/cons as many ladies have stated. It really comes down to what you are comfortable with! I was very naive when I had my DS and perceived DC as baby jail. But when I pick my DS up in the afternoon the teachers have the babies out interacting with the other children. 




  • DS went to daycare as an infant, and his teachers were wonderful.  The only negative was that he got sick constantly.

    Illness was the main reason I chose a nanny for DD's first year.  It was great, but so expensive.  And, to be honest, I don't enjoy being an employer.  DD is starting daycare now, and I am very relieved.  I don't regret having a nanny, but I don't want to do it any longer.

    Different strokes for different folks.

    DS born 8/8/09 and DD born 6/12/12.
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