Daycare or Nanny? Making the Right Choice for Your Family.

What to do about childcare, and especially daycare vs. nanny, is a big question on a lot of new and expectant moms’ minds. And it’s one that you have to start thinking about pretty early in a place like NYC, 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.

Here are some pros and cons to consider of daycare vs. nanny for your family:

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

  • 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

  • Socialization with other kids

  • Structured curriculum with a focus on learning in addition to playing

  • “Life skills” taught, including sharing, cleaning up, cooperation, independence and self-sufficiency

  • No need to pay for extra classes or play spaces; many even include “classes” like music

  • Some include extras like diapers, wipes and food

Daycare Cons

  • Usually more expensive than a nanny for 2+ kids

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

  • Little to no flexibility on pickup time in evening

  • Little to no flexibility if you have specific desires for your individual child’s schedule/care

  • 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

  • Usually more cost effective than daycare  for 2+ kids

  • 1:1 attention for your child

  • Can tailor the schedule/care to your individual child

  • Detailed feedback/information on your child

  • 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 expensive than a daycare for 1 child

  • May need  to pay for a lot of “extras” including transportation, paid time off, sick days, 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 is the likelihood of getting in by X time?

  2. Do you have rolling admissions or do you only accept new classes starting in September?

  3. Are both full-time and part-time spots available?

  4. Do you give admissions preference to siblings?

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

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

  7. Do you do any kind of health check in the mornings? How do you handle it if a child gets sick during the day?

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

  9. Do children ever play with different age groups?

  10. What is the ratio of teachers to children?

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

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

  13. What kind of reports do you give on each child’s day?

  14. What are the earliest/latest times for drop-off and pickup?

  15. Are parents allowed to sit in on the classroom?

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

  17. Is there a set schedule by age?

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

  19. How often do the children go outside?

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

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

  22. Do the teachers help with / support potty training?

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

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

  5. How have you handled difficult situations, like a very fussy baby or a toddler who’s a very picky eater?

  6. Have you helped to sleep train babies before?

  7. Have you helped to potty train toddlers before?

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

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

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

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

  12. Are there any activities or responsibilities that you can’t or won’t do?

  13. Are you fluent in any other languages?

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

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

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

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

  18. How long were you with your last family? What’s the longest you’ve been with the same family?

  19. How long are you looking to stay with your next family?

—> Download printable Nanny Interview Questions