Deciding Between Child Care Centers vs. At Home Care

Care A Lot child care center room showing a female staff member teaching a group of five children sitting on mats

Numerous working parents around the world are faced with the dilemma of choosing a childcare provider for their children.  It goes without saying that parents want what’s best for their children and deciding what that is can be rather challenging.

The two common types of care that are seen today are using a nanny or attending a child care center. 

Both have their pros and cons and we are here to elaborate on those for you.

Pros of Day Care  

  • Social skills: Daycare provides the benefit of socialization where children can learn and grow with other children their age. Children are stimulated by others and develop social skills through their daily experiences in day care.
  • Resources: Most centers offer a wide array of toys, manipulatives, games, gross motor equipment and more.  Many centers also offer enrichment providers such as; dance, computers, tae-kwan-doe, and more.
  • State regulations and accreditations: Day care centers must abide by state regulations around safety, sanitation, staffing, space issues and more. The state also requires teachers to have a certain level of education and experience — including ongoing education. When visiting day care centers, be sure look for the most recent state license — and ask if you don’t see one displayed!
  • Multiple teachers:  Many daycare centers have wonderful teachers who not only have been working with children for many years, but also have significant training and or degrees in the field of child development.  Children will be supervised by a group of teachers and form relationships with many of them as they move through the daycare center.
  • Cost: The price of daycare tends to be more affordable than a nanny since you are sharing the cost with other families.   


  • Your child’s personality: Certain children may struggle with a multitude of transitions and stimuli throughout the day (while other may be fine).  This is why daycare centers institute a set schedule for the day, to give the children a sense of routine and comfort.
  • Sick policies: Daycare centers have sick policies so if your child falls ill, you will have to come and pick them up from the center. 
  • Accidents: Bumps and falls are common in daycare.  With many children who are still learning the meaning of personal space as well as how to walk, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see some trips and bumps on occasion.
Care A Lot child care center room showing a female staff member teaching a group of five children sitting on mats

Pros of a Nanny

  • Individual attention: Your nanny is focused on your child’s individual needs.  With no other children around your nanny is able to solely concentrate on your child’s development.
  • Flexibility: You set the hours for when you need a nanny. If you have an early meeting or need to work late, you can find a nanny who will work with your schedule.
  • Convenience: With a nanny, you do not have to prepare or pack up for the day. This means no lugging pumped milk or extra clothes with you across town.


  • Nanny dependence: If your nanny gets sick or has to leave town, you will have to stay at home or find back up care.  With nannies there is no group of staffers to step in and help. 
  • No regulation or oversight: Unlike in daycare centers, the nanny is only regulated by the employer.  Nannies are not required to have certain levels of education or child development coursework. That means you, as the parent, would have to take time out of your day to screen nanny candidates and run background checks. 
  • You are the employer: Having a household employee who makes over $1,900 a year means you are required to pay taxes. It’s important to remember that paying “on the books” can often cost above the agreed to hourly rate because you have to account for the taxes you will pay as a household employer. You also need to think about things like sick time and vacation days, as your nanny should be allowed some paid time off throughout the year. It’s best to talk this out up front and put your agreement in a nanny contract. Remember, you are the employer and you should commit to ongoing supervision and feedback for your nanny.

While many parents may think the decision to choose between a nanny or a daycare hinges on what is best for the child, what’s truly important is what is best for both the child and the parents.

Before making this important decision for your family, sit down and make a list of what is most important to you and your family.  Be honest with yourself about your needs and wants, and evaluate your options thoroughly before making a decision.

Care A Lot child care center showing a staff member smiling surrounded by five children

Comments 1

  1. I love that you talked about how daycares help a child work on their social skills! Last week, we started thinking about how it might be time to take our son to a daycare center. We believe our kid will benefit from making new friends and being around more kids, so we’ll be sure to start looking for a childcare center! We appreciate your insight on daycares and home care and the way they work.

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