Daycare vs. Nanny


It’s a big question on a lot of new and expectant moms’ minds: should we go with daycare or a nanny? And it’s one that you have to start thinking about pretty early, since a lot of daycares have long waitlists and if you don’t get on them while still pregnant, there’s a good chance that your child won’t get in by the time you have to go back to work.

From our own personal experience and conversations with fellow moms, here’s our take on the pros and cons of daycare vs. nanny:

Daycare Pros

  • Usually less expensive than a nanny for 1 child

  • Pay a set amount on the books; may be able to use FSA funds

  • Structured curriculum

  • Trained and vetted staff

  • Regulations around vaccines (for both teachers & students)

  • Daily health checks to prevent sick kids from attending

  • Can help to build up stronger immune system by being exposed to more early on / fewer sick days when start school

  • Great socialization with other kids

  • Learn a lot, including “life skills” like sharing, cleaning up, cooperation, independence and self-sufficiency

Daycare Cons

  • Usually more expensive than a nanny for 2+ kids

  • Not as much flexibility if you have specific desires for your individual child’s schedule/care

  • Can make mornings more hectic, getting them ready and out the door (while also getting yourself ready)

  • No flexibility on pickup time in evening

  • Many kids can get sick more often in the beginning

  • Need to find back-up care if daycare is closed or child is sick

  • Closed on major holidays (and some follow a public school schedule with even more closures)

Nanny Pros

  • 1:1 attention for your child

  • Detailed feedback/information on your child

  • Can tailor the schedule/care to your individual child

  • Usually more cost effective than daycare  for 2+ kids

  • No need for back-up care if child is sick

  • Dedicated, consistent “co-parent” for your child

  • Will often help with other household chores (e.g., dishes, laundry, light cleaning, cooking for the kids)

  • Makes mornings easier

  • More flexibility in evenings

  • More flexibility vacation schedule

  • Option to have nanny stay late and babysit / have a babysitter your child is already comfortable with

  • Option to have nanny come on vacation to help with childcare there

Nanny Cons

  • Usually more costly than a daycare for 1 child

  • May need  to pay for a lot of “extras” including transportation, vacation, and classes or play spaces you want your nanny to take your child

  • Some nannies request off-the-books pay

  • Can be a tricky working/personal relationship to manage

  • Some parents may have doubts or concerns about what the nanny is doing all day (e.g., engaging enough, being on phone, running personal errands, etc.)

  • Need to find last-minute back-up care if nanny calls in sick

  • Will most likely want to start a part-time 2s or 3s program, which can be costly on top of the nanny salary

When considering a daycare or nanny, here are some questions you may want to ask when touring/interviewing:

Daycare Tour Questions

  1. What are your requirements for the staff in terms of qualifications?

  2. What your regulations around vaccinations (for both staff & children), including the flu shot?

  3. What is the ratio of teachers to children?

  4. What are your policies around personal phones in the classroom?

  5. What kind of tech do you use in the classroom, if any?

  6. What kind of reports do you give on your child’s day? (Some use a mobile app or parent portal; others give a physical sheet at the end of the day or have a daily/weekly progress report in the classroom.)

  7. What are the earliest/latest times for drop-off and pickup? (Some have a specific window for drop-off, and you aren’t allowed to bring the child in later in the day without special permission.)

  8. Is there a curriculum that you follow by age?

  9. Is there a set schedule by age?

  10. Is there any flexibility for individual children’s schedules?

  11. What age range is in the same classroom by year?

  12. Are diapers, wipes, and/or food included?

  13. Can you send your own food? Are there any restrictions?

—> Download printable Daycare Tour Questions

Nanny Interview Questions

  1. How long have you been caring for children?

  2. What is the age range of children you have cared for?  

  3. Have you cared for more than one child at a time?

  4. What is your favorite age to care for, and why?

  5. Are you trained in CPR & First Aid? If not, would you be willing to take a class?

  6. Are you up-to-date on vaccines? Do you regularly get the flu shot or would you be willing to?

  7. Are you comfortable traveling with child(ren) to playdates & classes?

  8. Are you fluent in any other languages?

  9. What and when was your last position? Why did you leave?

  10. Tell me about a typical day/schedule for a child X age.

  11. Have you ever had a childcare emergency? If so, how did you handle it?

  12. How flexible is your schedule (nights/weekends)?

  13. Are you comfortable helping with X (light housekeeping for child, laundry, cooking, etc.)?  

—> Download printable Nanny Interview Questions