Help me choose between nanny and daycare center - Mothering Forums
Working and Student Parents > Help me choose between nanny and daycare center
juniper_mama's Avatar juniper_mama 03:26 AM 01-10-2011

I could use some advice.  I went back to work about two months ago for two days per week.  Since I couldn't get a spot in a daycare center, I hired a nanny to come to my home to care for DS (now 14 months).  It's working out well.  After a year and a half on several waiting lists, I've just been offered a place in a center on the campus where I work and I'm not sure if I should make a switch.

Here are the factors:

Quality of care is number one.  I spent the morning at the center with DS and there are 15 babies (up to 2 yrs) in the room with 3-5 staff).  The staff are lovely but can't always immediately respond to crying and the content kids get less attention while the staff deal with the unhappy ones.  I like the one on one attention with the nanny and even though she sometimes questions my AP practices, she respects my wishes.

Sleep.  I was super worried about this with the nanny because I'd always nursed him to sleep.  But for her he sleeps in the stroller or in my bed if she lies down with him.  In the center, he'd be put in a cot and while I'm sure he'd work it out, it would be a struggle I think.

Germs.  I don't vaccinate and while this isn't a big factor, I don't like the idea of him being regularly exposed to snotty nosed kids. Today there was one there that I would have kept home for sure.

Missed work.  People keep saying that I'll have to miss work if the nanny is sick but she is super reliable and it seems to me I could miss a lot of work from staying home with a sick baby, especially if my friends with kids in child care are anything to go by.  However, at daycare, there would always be care available and we wouldn't have to find a new carer if she moves, quits, etc.

Convenience.  I love handing the baby to the nanny in his pjs and walking out the door if I'm running late.

Cost.  I can afford the nanny but it's twice as much as daycare.

Diapers.  I'd have to put him in disposables at daycare.  Annoying and another cost.

Socialization.  He loved all the toys and I suppose exposure to other kids is good.  Bad habits learned from other children competing for carers attention?

So after writing all that it appears I'm leaning towards keeping the nanny.  But I'd like to hear from others who've had to choose if there is anything else to consider.  What would you do?


JordanKX's Avatar JordanKX 10:58 PM 01-10-2011

I think you've already made up your mind!!! :-)


BUT, I can at least share my experience with daycare, as $$ was absolutely the deciding factor (sigh) - and I've still gone with a hugely expensive daycare just because I LOVE it and just can't stomach a cheaper alternative right now.


Diapers - some daycare's will allow you a middle ground, such as the G-diaper, that has a disposable insert. My sister has used 2 daycare's so far that allow this, so it's worth asking.


Germs - this is huge. Your son will get sick. A lot. I'm now realizing this, as he's had one "cold" after another. EVERYONE tells me "welcome to daycare". The benefits, so I've been told, is that they'll get everything at a young age and then will be much healthier for it. While that sounds great in theory, living in this at the moment...It's not fun!!! 

But on the flip-side, I can guarantee "they" wash their toys/handrails/tables, etc., more than I do at home. So, while he's competing with 10+ other kids who have colds, at least the facilities remain pretty clean.


Naps - I thought the cot was a "no way" with DS (15 months). At home he has a whole ritual, dark, with music. Very calm and peaceful. I never imagined he would sleep in a room with others. Day 1 he didn't. He stayed awake the entire day and went to bed the minute I picked him up. Day 2, and every day after, he sleeps on his mat (with his sheet and blanket) just like every other toddler, apparently with No prompting. Just like they said he would. I'm still amazed!!


Quality - there's really no fighting this one... you've gotta go with your instinct. I interviewed a few and this one, just by walking in the door, before he even got down to look around himself, felt right. So if you're considering daycare, I definitely recommend researching many!


DS is definitely changed from daycare. While we've worked on signs since he was born, he now actually DOES them! Because he's watching other kids with the teachers and not just me. He loves to SIT - we've built a custom toddler table/bench in the house for him where he now takes his toys to play on, eats snacks on, etc. Maybe he would've done this on his own, but it took 3 days of daycare for him to start prompting this by pulling up boxes and other toys to sit on and play at. He does hand-gestures to songs, he KNOWS songs when they start. Again, might have done on his own, but clearly defined since daycare.

He also head-butts.

And again, has been "sick" since day 1. 


enyhoo... that's my more than $.02 :-) Best wishes to you!

KLM99's Avatar KLM99 11:49 AM 01-12-2011

We've done daycare, nanny, grandparent care and au pair.  Honestly we loved loved loved our daycare, but if money were no concern (and it is for us), for a 14mo I would absolutely get a top-notch nanny.  My answer might change for a 3 or 4 year old though, but you can cross that bridge when you come to it.  If money isn't an issue, why not stay with what you're happy with?

juniper_mama's Avatar juniper_mama 03:47 AM 01-14-2011

Thanks for your helpful replies.  I've decided to keep the nanny since well, it wasn't broke so why fix it?  I was wondering though at what age it might be better for him to have more socialization.  Not that he doesn't see plenty of people now, at playgroups etc.  KLM99, you think that might be around 3 or 4?

KLM99's Avatar KLM99 07:26 AM 01-14-2011

I think I'm seeing it now with my 3.5 year old (I'm the poster who currently has an au pair) - not as much that I wish she had more socialization (they have lots of playdates and playground time), but maybe a little more structure.  As it is, they get up whenever they want and then do whatever they want all day, which of course is wonderful (and I think ideal for my 1.5yo), but I think by the time she turns 4 more of a routine will be better for her.  Less of a "you control the world" type day where she gets to do whatever she wants and more of a "let's think about what others want to do also" that she would get at a pre-school.


If money were no concern, then I would have a nanny or an au pair and then have both the kids in some type of nursery school situation, maybe three mornings a week. 

LittleGriff's Avatar LittleGriff 07:52 AM 01-14-2011

We paid my mom to take care of #1 for the first two years. When #2 was born (and mom unavailable for caretaking) we ended up going with a nanny for both. I would have happily done a daycare but we had just moved to a new city and all the decent places had 1 year plus waiting lists. I think a nanny in the first year makes a lot of sense and 2 kids in a daycare is often more expensive than a nanny if you have an infant. But beyond a year, I honestly feel like there is a ton of value in daycares. #1 started part-time preschool last fall so got some friend time but I felt #2 (now 20 months) was not getting nearly enough activities/socialization. Some nannies are better than than others with this. (My mom was great at that with #1 when she had him.) Our nanny was incredibly loving and sweet but it was incredibly hard to get her to get the kids out and about regularly. We just decided to switch both kids to daycare in order to save money (over $1000/mo! phew) but in addition I actually think at this point that the kids will have way more fun in a daycare than they did hanging out at home with a nanny most of the time. I'm also excited to no longer be an employer - payroll, taxes, performance reviews, raises, bonuses, vacation, bah. (An au pair, is my idea of hell. If that tells you the kind of person I am ...)


As for the sick/germs thing - it probably builds the immune system. I have lot of friends with kids in daycare who are doing just fine sick-wise. I also don't see how kids will pick up bad behavior competing for attention, mostly they're so excited to be with other kids. Lastly, your little one will probably get a perfectly useful nap everyday. I don't imagine there is going to be any damage on that front. As for diapers, our 20 month old is diaper free at home and although she will wear a disposable at the center the staff said they will continue encouraging her to use the potty. So if you feel like working on potty training, you can eliminate the diaper cost sooner than later.


You obviously don't want a bad daycare but I think a quality daycare will be great for kids and that saving money is a wonderful feeling. If you love your nanny and need the convenience factor, that's important and no reason to change. I just wanted to say that I think most kids in daycare turn out great and are super happy. So if you end up going that route, I think it will be fine.

JudiAU's Avatar JudiAU 03:08 PM 01-14-2011

Personally, I'd wait. I am not opposed to daycare but I think that environment is very stressful for an infant. I want an infant to be fed on demand, get a lot of individual attention, and be put to sleep gently. My nanny helps pick up after the babe and does the diapers. Yes, it is a lot more expensive but you get a lot more from it. I'd wait until closer to 2. Depending on if or when you have another child, you make different decisions.

laurabfig's Avatar laurabfig 10:39 AM 01-15-2011

I think most kids are ready for more socializing opportunities at age 3 or 4, but I also have friends who have chosen to skip pre-K all together and their kids are well-adjusted socially and do just fine in K.  I agree that having a nanny seems like the ideal situation for any child, even if they are a bit older.  No school is able to give the individualized attention that an individual caregiver can provide your child at your home.  But I suppose it does depend on the school and on the nanny in each individual case.  (Though we've always used center-based care for our kids, b/c a nanny was $20/hour in our area and we couldn't afford it.)

t2009's Avatar t2009 01:35 PM 01-15-2011

Juniper-mama, it looks like you made up your mind, but since cost & socialization were concerns you mentioned I thought I'd throw out the idea of a nanny share.


Money-- Hourly you might pay her a higher amount (two kids instead of one), but you split it, so it is likely to still come out to less.


Socialization-- You introduce another child (preferably similar in age) into the mix on a daily basis. I don't think at 14 mos a child needs more socialization, necessarily, but for my DS the share situation has been really great.


Just my two cents.

juniper_mama's Avatar juniper_mama 03:15 AM 01-17-2011
Thanks everyone. I already feel like I made the right decision for now. I can always reevaluate in the future and since we'd like another sometime soon, it may be that I'll be on leave again in a year's time or so. t 2009 - nanny sharing is a great idea and I approached my nanny but she wasn't really interested :(
alevagon's Avatar alevagon 09:39 AM 01-20-2011

i would say go with the nanny.  your child will get one on one attention, which is very important!  it's all about how well your child responds.

boatrat's Avatar boatrat 01:51 PM 02-07-2011

I would also go with the nanny at this point.  The lack of stress around drop-off and pick-up is huge.