Daycare or nanny? Daycare or nanny? Daycare or...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 12:01 PM | Joanna
Like most new moms, my husband and I debated whether to place my child in daycare or hire a nanny once I returned to work (when Naomi turned a year). We didn’t really start thinking about it until Naomi was about six months. We considered the pros and cons of both options, and eventually, decided to put Naomi in daycare.
Immediately after making the decision, we visited many, many daycares, and interviewed their staff until we found one that met our expectations.

For the first four months after I returned to work, Naomi was part-time at daycare, and part-time with my mother-in-law. We were lucky that we had family who wasn’t working and was willing to take care of Naomi (in fact, she volunteered!). Today, at 17 months, Naomi is in a daycare full-time, well cared for and enjoying herself.

Frankly, choosing daycare over having a nanny wasn’t all that difficult for us. Yes, we did think seriously about each option, but it was more difficult finding and deciding on which daycare to out our child in was the hard part. The following were my lists of pros and cons, which we considered during the nanny/daycare decision process.


  • Dedicated one-on-one attention
  • No need to wake baby up at an ungodly hour every morning
  • No rushing to drop-off baby
  • No rushing to pick up baby (and get stressed in traffic). Did you know that daycare fines for being late are $1.00 a minute?!
  • Baby is in a comfortable and familiar environment from the beginning. Less transitioning needed.
  • Extra help with caring for baby (ahhh.... maybe we can eat dinner in peace)
  • Visions of a super tidy house and dinner waiting came to mind. (Of course there's no guarantee nanny will do all that.)

  • Potentially quite expensive (“potentially” because the fees of certain daycares are shockingly expensive too)
  • Would require us finishing the basement of our home (sounds like a lot of money and work but we were prepared for this option)
  • Not enough social interaction - this is a really big deal to me
  • No stimulating activities (Maybe Nanny will be boring and Naomi will end up watching T.V. all day.)
  • Nanny could be serial killer (I get really paranoid when it comes to my child!)
  • But seriously, how do I know if the nanny is hurting or being mean to my child?? I don’t want to have to put nanny cams everywhere. And do I really want to live like that where I can’t trust my caregiver? This was a drawback I couldn’t get over.


  • Well, opposite of all of the above pros for the Nanny option. Also:
  • People tell me kids in daycare get sick more often (unfortunately, for the first 2 months, this was true)
  • Potential neglect due to lack of staff (The daycare we eventually decided on bragged about always having extra staff. And you know what, it seemed Naomi got extra attention on the days she needed it.)


  • Lots of fun activities including circle time with songs and reading, arts and crafts (yes, they do it for infants), indoor and outdoor play, and various other programs
  • Will learn to be more independent and become comfortable with another caregiver other than mommy (At the time, I really, really hoped this would be true.☺)
  • Social interaction with other kids. It drives me crazy when people tell me that young children (under two or three) don’t need to interact with other children. Okay, so a child may turn out “ok” being alone at home but believe me, children do benefit from playing and being around other kids their own age! It would take another blog post for me to list all the benefits (maybe another time) but don’t take my word for it—do your research.
Naomi has learned from other children by trying to imitate what they do. It has motivated her for example, to try and stand/walk sooner rather than later. I do know that Naomi loves being around other children. I’m sure this could be partly genetic (being a social creature) but it’s also because in her first year, I took her to my mommy and baby get-togethers, classes, arranged frequent playdates, and I just always tried to find opportunities to have her be around other kids.

Hence, my fear was that if I left Naomi with a nanny, she would miss the social interaction, perhaps get used to it, and become one of those kids that get overwhelmed when around other children. As well, I wanted her to benefit from children’s activities in the same way she did when I took her to music and play classes.

But my biggest fear is not knowing how my child is truly being treated by the nanny. Until my child can speak and tell me what goes on, I will never be comfortable leaving her alone with one person who is not family. And this is the same reason, we decided against home daycare. I’ve heard too many horror stories of overcrowding and children being abused in private homes.

I know there are good nannies; I know there are good home daycares. In the end, it’s really what you’re comfortable with, and you do what you believe is best for your child.

What about that list of disadvantages for daycare?
  • Well… it is a bit hectic in the mornings. But Isak (my husband) has flexible hours so he doesn’t have to be at work by 9am sharp. Not even 10am, actually.
  • Naomi is not woken up at an ungodly hour— she wakes us up earlier than we would like ☺.
  • Yes, transitioning week was hell. I cried. But we all got through it.
  • I don’t have to kill myself trying to make it home by 6pm because mom-in-law picks up Naomi between 4 and 5pm (HUGE help).
And what about visions of a super-tidy house? Well, that still remains *just* a vision.

(first published in The Working Mama on Feb. 17, 2009)


  • Wednesday, February 18, 2009 6:04 AM | Marina
    I really liked this discussion, I agree it's very individual decision and each side has pros and cons. You have to see what is the best and what works for you and your child.
    Everyone is in different situation.
    But if you want to make sure that your nanny is doing ok while you're away install webcam, it works!
    Link  •  Reply
  • Monday, March 16, 2009 11:23 AM | Abby CH
    This is a great article. My biggest decision was whether to put my daughter in a daycare close to home or close to work. That decision was made for me when the first daycare to call was the closest to my work. LAter, after having my daughter in daycare for 3 months the centre closest to my home called with an opening.

    Close to work Pros:
    I can go over at anytime of the day to adminster tylanol etc.
    I don't have to rush home to get her
    I get to spend an extra 45 min each way with my daughter on TTC

    Close to work cons:
    I drag my daughter on the ttc every day and sometimes she's grumpy

    When the close to my home daycare called it was no discussion - I wasn't moving her and don't have to rush out of here at 5pm just to make all the connections properly to get my daughter.
    Link  •  Reply

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