my situation is somewhat similar: for the first year of my daughter's life i brought her to work with me (i own my own business) this was very challenging, for both of us, but it was my decision and i don't regret it one bit. by 12 months, though, she really needed other stimulation, and it wasn't in the form of just one person. a nanny was out of our budget, but i didn't think we would have opted for it anyway.
when i checked out some of the home / family daycares, i knew that's where she belonged. she fit right in and loved being around all the other kids.
she is now 21 months, and LOVES going there. there are about 10 other kids ranging in age from 6 months to 4 years. i don't believe it's true in my case that they are too young at this age to play alongside other kids. i see her playing with other kids all the time, and i think it has been invaluable for her. she is with me 3 days a week, and there 4 days a week. there are good people out there, if you have the time to look. some of the home care places we went to did not match our style at all, but with a little patience, we found one that has worked out beautifully. i prepare her meals, which is no different budgetwise than if she was eating with me at home. personally, i think her being with other kids has been just great. the kids i've seen that have been with a nanny most of the time, in my opinion, don't get the full benefit of socializing.
but i guess it always comes down to the child and the parents that know the child. here are great nannys and there are great home daycres. just try to find one that is a family daycare, where it's a little more intimate than a center. good luck