By Erin Ollila
Welcome to a new stage of life that’s filled to the brim with questions — some you’ll ask of yourself and eventually others your toddler will repeat over and over and over again.
One of the very first questions cycling through your mind will be about childcare. Who will help you take care of your baby when you return to work? You’ve narrowed your choice down to a daycare vs nanny for your infant, but you want to weigh the pros and cons for each type before deciding on which is best for you and your baby during the earliest months of his or her life.
Here are 6 important factors to help you narrow down which childcare approach is right for your family.
When do you need childcare? Most daycare centers schedule their hours of business around the traditional Monday through Friday 9-to-5 workday, with extra hours tacked to the beginning and end to accommodate pick up and drop off.
While many nannies also work these hours, parents with non-traditional hours have the option to hire a nanny who can adjust her hours to their schedules. Keep in mind that a nanny or nanny share will still want some stability in working hours, so it’s best to work out schedules in advance.
When it comes to vacations, the daycare vs nanny for infants battle is won by the daycare centers, as larger facilities employ many workers, and their vacation schedules won’t affect your child’s care. When smaller home centers or nannies request time off for vacations or sickness, you’ll need to take time off of work or find other coverage.
If you’re returning back to work soon after your child is born or adopted, start the search for childcare as early as possible. Some daycare centers have long application periods and even longer waitlists.
With a nanny, you’ll have much more flexibility in timing the beginning of your childcare journey. You may have to interview a few until you find one who is ready to start when you are, but at least you won’t be wondering if and when you’ll make it off a waitlist.
Guidepost at Home Pro Tip: Tour as many daycare facilities and research as many nanny options as you can before your baby arrives to cut down on decisions once the baby gets here. With Guidepost at Home, you can reserve childcare months in advance or in as little as four weeks.
There’s a lot of learning that happens before preschool, and it’s important to introduce educational activities immediately to babies. Toys, like black and white board books or wooden puzzles, are great to use at home, and your childcare provider will be able to continue to nurture a love for learning in their presence as well.
Both daycare centers and nannies are great options to introduce babies to a future of learning. One benefit to daycare centers is the potential for structured learning programs. Nannies, on the other hand, can tailor educational activities to the interests of the babies they’re watching.
“I’ve found that the nanny option has allowed my children to navigate their own learning choices and discover their very clear desires and preferences,” says work-from-home proposal consultant and mom of two, Kristin Collins.
Guidepost at Home Pro Tip: While some might think infants and toddlers are too young for real learning, the opposite is actually true. 85-90% of brain development takes place from birth to five years old1. That’s why Guidepost at Home Nannies use a Montessori-inspired curriculum made up of activities to develop cognitive skills, motor skills and sensory abilities.
Do you want to take part in your infant’s day-to-day routine? Parents who work in the home or those with flexible schedules might want access to their babies at certain points in the day for breastfeeding, bonding, or encouraging playtime. For these parents, a nanny might be the best fit as dropping into a daycare could be disruptive to the other children.
Collins says, “I like to be involved and pop in and observe as appropriate.” She continues, “My own personal parenting style includes lots of babywearing and extended breastfeeding and having my kids cared for in my home has allowed this.”
Though, that doesn’t mean you need to be physically present during childcare hours. Other parents, particularly those working in an office — or even those working at home who are easily distracted — can’t interact with their child when they are being cared for by someone else. For these parents, an app, online portal or texts that show pictures of the babies learning and playing throughout the day is enough interaction. Both nannies and daycares should be able to provide this for you.
Guidepost at Home Pro Tip: Don’t be shy! Talk with your childcare provider if you’d like to adjust how involved you are during their coverage.
Infants have immature immune systems, which puts them at a greater risk of catching a cold and developing serious complications. Anyone they come into contact with potentially poses a health threat, and if they are surrounded by many other children, that risk gets multiplied. For some families, the daycare vs nanny for infants debate is over when a baby’s health is a concern.
Sarah Netter, mom and writer, was one of those parents who knew that daycare wasn’t an option when her child was a baby. She says, “My son was a very small preemie. He was too medically fragile to go into a daycare.” By hiring a nanny, she felt confident her son was being cared for in a safe and healthy environment. She continues, “Our nanny was just beyond wonderful. She worked with him on his physical therapy. She was the one that finally got him comfortable eating solid foods. We adored her.”
This isn’t to say that daycares aren’t safe spaces for children — they are! But nannies or nanny shares do limit the access your infants will have to other sick children and adults.
Guidepost at Home Pro Tip: Colds in infants can be very serious. Call the pediatrician for any illness from birth to three months; after that, call for a fever over 100.4.
While you may not immediately think of socializing when it comes to choosing a daycare vs nanny for infants, it’s an important factor. Socialization helps babies learn to explore new environments for play and learning, build trust, and develop as individuals.
In a daycare setting, children are usually separated by age group so your baby will socialize with the workers and other babies. As they grow up, they’ll have playtime with a larger group of children. Their social experiences will change as they hit different ages or milestones.
Now, this doesn’t mean hiring a nanny equates to less socialization. Many nannies plan activities with other nannies and the children they are watching. Also, in a nanny share, babies and young children are socialized together, and mixed-age interactions has been proven to be quite important in babies’ socialization.
Knowing how your baby deals with stimulation is a clue on how prepared they are for socialization. Collins says, “My children are very sensitive and they do a lot better in small group settings.” Because of this, she felt a nanny would be the best choice for her family. If your child thrives on playing with their peers, a daycare may be the right choice for you.
Guidepost at Home Pro Tip: Encourage your children to play in different ways! Different games will unleash creativity, imagination, and curiosity.
As you can see, deciding between a daycare vs nanny for infants is a personal preference, with many factors to consider before committing to one. Weigh all your options and do your due diligence and you’ll make the best decision for you, your little one and your family.
If you’re leaning toward a nanny, a nanny share can be a great option for increasing socialization, while still providing personalized care. At Guidepost at Home, we know how overwhelming the childcare search can be which is why we try to make it as stress-free as possible. With some daycares, you have to research a spot months in advance or be placed on a waitlist. With some private nannies, you’re not able to reserve care in advance and instead are making a decision within days of when you need care. With Guidepost at Home, we can secure you a spot with a Guidepost at Home Nanny on your time table. Reserve childcare months in advance or in as little as four weeks. Learn more how our Guidepost at Home Nanny Shares work!