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A nanny caring for a baby

Nanny vs Daycare Cost: Which Is Cheaper?

Are you wondering about the nanny cost vs daycare cost and trying to decide which would be better for your family and your budget?

There’s no single right answer to this, but we’re going to break down the pros and cons of both options, explore the costs, and help you determine which to choose.

Don’t rush into a decision about who is going to care for your child, and don’t let cost be the only driving factor. Your child is enormously influenced by their early life experiences, and which of these two care options is right for you deserves careful consideration. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, so weigh up the information on offer with care.

Key Takeaways

  • Making a decision when it comes to nanny cost vs daycare involves weighing various factors, with cost being just one consideration. The decision should prioritize the child's well-being, early experiences, and the family's unique needs.
  • Hiring a nanny offers one-on-one support, flexibility, and convenience but comes with the responsibility of being an employer and potential privacy concerns. Nanny costs, though higher, provide personalized care and the ability to address the child's needs more individually.
  • Daycare creates socialization, consistent care, and exposure to diverse resources but may lack flexibility, pose logistical challenges, and limit parental control. While generally more cost-effective, it sacrifices the personalized attention a nanny provides.

Nanny vs. Daycare Cost Comparison

In most cases, hiring a nanny will be more expensive than putting your child into daycare. How much a nanny costs will vary according to many factors, including your area and the duties that you expect the nanny to perform, the number of kids they care for, and the hours they work. Live-in nannies often cost less because they have fewer expenses (since they live with you), but you’ll have to provide a suitable space and accept them into your home.

The average salary for a live-in nanny is $670 per week, while a live-out nanny will often cost around $766 per week. The average hourly wage in many areas is between $17.80 and $19.14, but be aware that it may be much higher in some states and areas.

Of course, for many parents, the cost is a huge factor too, since childcare is often expensive. The cost of daycares is also enormously varied, but the average is often around $1,231 per month, working out at about $284 per week. That’s far cheaper and could be as much as half the price of a live-in nanny.

Pros and Cons of Hiring a Nanny

Let’s start with nannies in the nanny vs. daycare debate. They should be trained professionals, but let’s run through all the details.

Pros of Hiring a Nanny

  • Your child will get one-on-one support. The nanny’s time and attention will be dedicated entirely to your little one, and they will benefit from this degree of focus.
  • There’s flexibility, which serves both the parents and the child. Daycares have very fixed opening times and there will be little to no flexibility about this, whereas a nanny can usually fit around a family’s needs much more precisely. That’s great for working parents, but also good for little ones.
  • A unique schedule that suits your child. Although all young children need playtime, snack time, nap time, etc., they may not need these things on precisely the same schedule – but at daycare, there’s rarely much flexibility. The caregiver will need to keep the whole group on the same activity, which means your child will have to fit in with the group’s needs, rather than having their own recognized.
  • Nannies can provide care even when the child is sick and wouldn’t be able to go to daycare. Most nannies are still willing to look after a child and may even be able to provide sick-related care, such as dosing with medicine.
  • A nanny comes to your house. There’s also the added convenience of the nanny coming to your home, rather than you having to rush to get your child to daycare and pick them up afterward. For parents with tight schedules, that can be a major plus.

Cons of Hiring a Nanny

Of course, there are drawbacks too.

  • You are the boss, like it or not. One is that you have to be the employer, which means you’re responsible for a whole lot more than with a daycare. You’ll have to do the background checks, vet the nanny, deal with any issues, address shortcomings, and possibly even fire the nanny if something goes wrong. Some parents dislike this extra degree of responsibility.
  • An additional person is in the house. Next, there are certain logistical issues, like reduced privacy; you will have someone in your home a lot of the time, and you’ll need to trust them completely. Some families find this uncomfortable and intrusive.
  • Sick days. Furthermore, if your nanny is sick, you’ll be left without childcare, possibly at short notice – which can be a big issue if you’re working. You may struggle to find backup childcare options when this happens.

Pros and Cons of Choosing Daycare

Daycare is big business and it can be hit or miss, so let's look at all the details.

Daycare Pros

Daycare has many advantages, of course, with one of the biggest ones being the friendships that your child will develop and the social skills they will get to practice.

Spending multiple hours in the company of others will help them develop relationships, build bonds, learn how to share, and more. It encourages creativity and flexibility, and it also helps them understand more about the world. Here are some points to note:

  • Your children will also spend more time playing in different ways, including cooperative play. Different children will bring different ideas to the activities, creating wonderful opportunities for kids to learn from each other and grow.
  • Daycare is also attractive because it generally offers reliable, consistent care. If one teacher is sick, there is usually a substitute, so you will very rarely need to find alternative care for your child. If it’s difficult for you to take time off work, this could be preferable.
  • In some cases, daycare will provide kids with more opportunities to play with different items. Even well-off parents cannot have every toy available, but at daycare, your child will have access to many more different toys and activities, which will expand their kinesthetic learning experiences.

Daycare Cons

A daycare has some downsides that are very important to weigh.

  • Costs can run high. Some daycares can charge more than a private school.
  • Pick up and drop off. Daycare is less convenient than a nanny in terms of logistics; you have to drop your child off and pick them up every day, and you can’t just call and say you’re going to be half an hour later than planned because a meeting has run over.
  • The lack of flexibility extends to your child’s experience too. If they like their routine, they may find it difficult to fit in with the class and do what everybody else is doing. While some children benefit from the rigid structure, others will be uncomfortable.
  • It’s harder to control what your child is exposed to at daycare. Parents often have quite specific ideas about things they don’t yet want their children to hear, but they lose a degree of control when they enter daycare. They may pick up words or ideas that you’re uncomfortable with, and there’s not much you can do to prevent this.

Nanny vs. Daycare: 4 More Factors To Consider

Here are a few other pieces of the puzzle to work out before you decide on childcare. 

1. Location

Where you live makes a big difference to which of these two options is right for you. If you’ve got a nearby daycare center, this might tip the balance in that direction. If you’ve got no nearby daycare and your commute already looks a little crazy, a nanny may be a better option. You can organize for them to get to you before you need to leave, and then your morning is simple and you can just focus on getting to work on time.

The same is true when it comes to pickup. If the daycare isn’t close to your workplace and you’re going to have to deal with rush hour traffic, you may find that picking a child up from daycare reliably just isn’t feasible. A nanny’s schedule can be tailored to yours.

2. Availability of Toys, Books, and Other Resources

We touched on this earlier, but let’s expand on it here. Most nannies will not have access to the full range of toys and activities that a daycare will be able to offer. A daycare can help your child engage with their musical and artistic sides, allow them to learn about teamwork, let them do crafts and more.

Furthermore, daycare centers may teach your child things like yoga, meditation, sports, outdoor skills, languages, etc. A nanny is unlikely to be able to provide such a good range of resources, no matter how skilled and flexible they are.

On the flip side, if you have lots of great resources in your local area, your nanny is far more likely to be able to take your child on trips to museums, zoos, libraries, etc. A daycare may do the occasional outing, but the logistics are much harder, so this isn’t going to happen frequently in most cases.

It’s also important to bear in mind that if your child has any unique needs or difficulties, a daycare may be more likely to notice and have access to the resources needed to help your child and ensure they stay on a level with their peers.

3. Structure

Structure can be a double-edged sword for children. Some kids thrive on having their own tailored structure, fitted precisely to their needs and temperament, and the environment that they have grown up in thus far.

Others will benefit far more from following a structure that has been created by early learning specialists – such as you might find in a daycare. A daycare will ensure that the balance of activities is ideally suited to your child’s age and learning level, which might help them develop certain skills at the right times.

4. Parental Control and Involvement

If you’re a parent who wants to be involved in every aspect of your child’s life, a nanny is certainly going to be the preferred option, because you can create a personalized plan with them and adjust it as necessary.

This also means that if there are any areas where more attention might be needed, the nanny can provide that one-on-one. If your child is struggling with their reading, writing, people skills, or something else, having this kind of focus can be enormously beneficial. Some parents like this flexibility and control.

However, if you’d rather leave this sort of thing to the professionals, a daycare may be preferable; you will have more peace of mind, knowing that your child is getting everything they need, without you having to take the wheel. That can be very reassuring.

As you can see, the cost of a nanny is often more expensive than daycare but does have multiple advantages for parents who are working odd hours, a long way from their nearest daycare, or looking to give their child one-on-one time and attention. On the other hand, daycares offer better socialization options, more resources, and a budget-friendly approach.

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