How to Find the Right Childcare

If you want to keep baby at home, we take a look at two options: hiring a nanny or choosing an in-home daycare.

Illustration by Marco Goran Romano

Nanny Care
Pros: Nannies can provide not only basic care (feeding, bathing, dressing) but also light housework and transportation to appointments and activities. Michelle Ward, owner of Precious Families Nanny Agency, says parents like having their children at their own home with a consistent, nurturing caregiver—who becomes like a favorite aunt.

Nanny care is highly flexible. You choose someone with the level of training/education you desire and similar values and parenting philosophy. She could live with you or not, and work full- or part-time. You determine the schedule. Expect enrichment activities and play-based learning, with the option of a more structured curriculum. You’ll share tons of communication and get great advice. Last-minute schedule changes are less of a problem. She can care for a sick child.

Cons: Cost can be a barrier, at generally twice as much as a daycare center—or more. Parents may have safety concerns. “That’s the benefit of going through an agency,” Ward says, where a professional screens candidates.

In-home Daycare
Pros: Parents like the home-like environment with a consistent caregiver. A family forms a tight bond with the caregiver, who is typically trying to create a nurturing environment for her own child as well, says Mandy Franks, an in-home daycare provider in Independence. “Mixed age groups create a family atmosphere, where children learn from and take care of each other,” she adds. Expect play-based learning, enrichment activities, and a team approach to meeting your child’s behavioral and developmental goals. Licensed providers are required to have background checks and training in first aid and child development. Providers with fewer children often don’t need licensure, but the smaller caregiver-child ratio is a plus, Franks says. Cost is about  that of a daycare center.

Cons: Transporting multiple kids to activities can be challenging for providers, especially if there are several infants. You must have backup arrangements in case the caregiver or your child is sick. Parents often think providers aren’t trained, but many are.

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