The Daycare vs. Nanny Debate: How To Find Great Childcare.
You’re a new parent. You want childcare that’s (a) nurturing, (b) stimulating and (c) doesn’t require taking out a second mortgage. Where, and when, to begin your search? There are two basic approaches: in-home and out-of-home care. And there are lots of factors to consider. Start with this overview of the options, costs and recommended timing for each type of care from The Working Gal’s Guide to Babyville.
This is care provided in your home versus someone else’s. The upsides? Individual attention, fewer germs from other kids, and convenience. Your child gets to nap in his own crib and you get to leave each morning without schlepping your bundle of joy. The downsides? High hourly costs and paperwork. Plus, a sick sitter can leave you in the lurch and there’s less opportunity for your child to socialize. If you want in-home care, you can look into referral agencies in advance, but you won’t be able to interview candidates until a month or two before returning to work. Nannies and babysitters available for interviews generally want to start immediately. Interested?
Here are your in-home options:
Career nannies generally have more training and a longer-term commitment than babysitters. Call referral agencies or ask friends for references.
Pros: Your child receives one-on-one care, and you don’t even have to get him dressed before scrambling out the door in the morning.
Cons: You’ll pay $8 to $17 an hour for an experienced in-home caregiver. And managing the legally required paperwork and taxes can feel like you’re running a small business.
Full-Time Cost: Need childcare 45 hours a week? That’s $1,440 to $3,060 monthly, including paid vacation and potentially a health insurance subsidy and placement fee.
Know a nearby family with compatible childcare needs? Share a caregiver by bringing the children together and rotating houses every other week.
Pros: You split the cost, and the kids enjoy built-in socialization in a comfy, familiar environment. To really save, coordinate a three-way share care arrangement.
Cons: If the other family’s needs ever change, you’re forced to find another family or cover the sitter costs yourself.
Full-time cost: Expect to pay about $720 to $1,530 a month, including paid vacation and potentially a health insurance subsidy and placement fee.
If you have a family member willing and able to care for your child, take advantage. In fact, relatives are the most popular childcare providers in the United States.
Pros: Free, loving, dependable help is like winning the childcare lottery. Don’t ask why you were the chosen one; just accept the prize and be grateful.
Cons: If you’re not thrilled with your mother-in-law’s approach to naptimes or your aunt’s love affair with daytime TV, you’re in a tough spot. Discuss your parenting philosophy in advance and keep up an honest, open dialogue.