That was a TRICK QUESTION, my friends.
Neither is better.
Whether you should hire a nanny or enroll your child in group daycare is a totally personal choice that 100% depends on the needs and preferences of you and your family.
That being said, there are some pros and cons to each situation. Here are a few to think about as you navigate the murky waters of searching for childcare.
- No adult is ever alone with your child for an extended period of time. Enough said.
- So much socialization! Even before your baby turns 1, she’ll begin to play with friends. It’s a delight to watch.
- Unless you’re in a very small home daycare, generally the facility will not be closed due to the caregiver’s illness (unlike a nanny, who will inevitably need sick days at some point).
- The teachers are pros. This is particularly true if you are lucky enough to get your child into a NAEYC-accredited center. The caregivers will be knowledgable about childhood development and safety standards, and they will help with tricky tasks like giving up the pacifier and potty training.
- All kinds of messy, awesome sensory activities will take place at a facility that is not your house.
- Daycare is usually more affordable than a nanny. (Check out our past post here for info on childcare costs.)
- Shlepping a kid to daycare every morning not as convenient as having a nanny show up at your front door.
- It can be very competitive to find a space at a high-quality center. This is particularly true for infant care.
- You may have to pack meals and snacks for your child, as well as supplies like extra diapers and extra clothes.
- Your child will probably get sick a lot, particularly their first 12 to 18 months in group care. However, I’d argue this is actually a pro disguised as a con. Most children get roughly the same number of illnesses during childhood. Getting sick a lot during the infant/toddler/preschool years means that by the time your child gets to elementary school, she’ll probably have an iron immune system and rarely or never miss school.
- Some daycares, particularly those with religious affiliation, may be closed a lot of days that are not national holidays. You probably need a backup care option.
- If your child is sick, again you need a backup option.
- OMG, the convenience. A magical helper person just shows up at your house. Some nannies will help with cooking and housekeeping! My friend’s nanny even runs errands for her! This is amazing and wonderful.
- Particularly for infants, it can be easier to set and maintain a schedule for things like naps and eating when you have a one-on-one caregiving situation in your home.
- You can (tactfully and politely) ask a nanny to do things your way. If you are committed to something like baby-led weaning or cloth diapering, it can be easier to ask a nanny to comply than a daycare center, where teachers may have their hands tied by center/licensing policies or by the logistical realities of caring for multiple children.
- Good nannies have a lot of experience caring for children, and will be knowledgable about childhood development and safety.
- If your baby is sick, oftentimes the nanny will still be OK coming to work.
- The money. Ouch. Nannies tend to be the more expensive option.
- We don’t go for scare tactics here, but using a nanny generally means one adult will be alone with your child for a large portion of the day. There’s risk in that. You can absolutely minimize it with references, background checks, and technology (thank you, DropCam!), but you have to do that homework and put a lot of trust in the person you hire.
- Nannies get sick and take vacation. You need a backup care option.
- Depending on your location and whether or not your nanny drives, your child might not get a lot of social interaction with other children. This isn’t a huge issue for infants, but by the time kids are 12-18 months old, they’re going to get a huge kick out of playing with friends and want time with other littles.
- Nanny relationships have to be managed somewhat carefully. This means clearly setting expectations, giving feedback, and maintaining ongoing open communication. This can be legitimately hard for some people! Seriously, having a conversation with someone about how often she’s using her iPhone in front of your toddler, or that she’s letting your child sleep in her arms for every nap can be SUPER challenging.
- Handling payroll and nanny taxes can be logistically painful.
Whether you choose a nanny or a group daycare, our best and most heartfelt advice is to trust your gut and pick the option that seems right for you. Good luck out there, friends! We’re rooting for you!