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Nanny vs Daycare: 9 Things to Consider When Deciding What’s Best

Deciding on care for your child is a very big decision as the stakes are high since there is no way for your baby to tell you what is going on. It is also a huge decision because your caregiver will shape your child’s development. There are endless pros and cons to staying at home vs. daycare vs. nanny. After going through the process, we decided on a mix of daycare and staying at home. Here are the reasons I would pick a daycare over a nanny any day. #parenting #childcare #motherhood

Deciding on care for your child is a very big decision. The stakes are high since there is no way for your baby to tell you what is going on. It is also a huge decision because your caregiver will shape your child’s development.

Now, I know how tough it is to find what is best for your family. There are endless pros and cons to staying at home vs nanny vs daycare. After going through the process myself, we decided on a mix of daycare and staying at home.

I will one day write an article all about why I choose to stay at home, but for now I will share with you all the reasons I would pick a daycare over a nanny any day. So, if you are trying to decide and want some food for thought or for someone to play the devil’s advocate, here were the big reasons why we went with daycare when I finally went back to work.  

Please remember, I am writing this to give you a perspective on my thought process and why we chose what we did. I always find it helpful to know how people come to their decisions in life. I share mine so you can contemplate and decide what is best for you and your family. 

There are checks and balances

As I already mentioned, the stakes are high because your baby can’t tell you what is going on. If you have just one person watching your child, there are absolutely NO checks and balances.

It could be anything from being left to cry in a swing all day to physical abuse. You will never ever truly know because you aren’t there. Personally, I could not live with that. I also know a family who hired a nanny who was abusive. They found out because their baby wasn’t reaching milestones. After investigation (a hidden camera), they found out that the physical abuse was being caused by the nanny and the permanent brain damage meant the child would have extreme learning disabilities for the rest of his life.

And sure, you could do a camera in every room of your house and record or watch it. And never have them go to any outings, but at that point I think that situation should tell you how you feel about the decision of a nanny (not so good). That is your inner gut which has already made up its mind.

Personally, I will not take that risk. Yes, it could happen at a daycare, but it is so much less likely simply because multiple people would have to be okay with the physical abuse. The other providers at the daycare serve as a constant check. More importantly, this is why I won’t do a home daycare unless there are multiple providers there every day (who are not relatives).

Daycare providers typically have more experience

I would argue that for most daycare providers, it is their career. They have been at it their whole life. You also get more than one person who will look after your child meaning collectively more experience all together.

Even if the nanny has been a nanny their whole life, they will never work with or be exposed to the same number of kids as a daycare provider.

Daycare providers are guaranteed the full gamut of personalities, so their skills must keep improving in ways that you wouldn’t get as a nanny. When comparing a nanny vs daycare, just think of how many different kids a daycare provider will interact with or watch other daycare providers interact with. Not only can they pick up skills from other daycare teachers, there is also a higher chance of things being caught earlier that need early intervention, such as a learning disability etc. Simply because at least one provider has seen it before and knows the signs to look for.

A nanny will only be able to call on her experience with the families she has worked with. I think it is hard to find a very experienced nanny. A lot of them haven’t even had kids themselves yet.

Kids develop social skills earlier and faster

I can tell you immediately if a 3-year-old has been at daycare or home care (stay at home mom or nanny). Like within the first few minutes of meeting a child. The social skills are that different.

Just think for a second, the difference in the number of hours daycare kids are around other kids vs. a stay at home kid. Social skills are learned naturally in group settings and providers work on those skills from day one. They teach kids to be assertive, express their needs and start learning how to navigate friendships.

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with learning those social skills at a slower pace, which most stay at home kids do. However, you will have to go through a tough phase once they finally enter a group setting (preschool or kindergarten) and they need to catch up (aka learn to be a duckling).

Kids who are in daycare from the start don’t have to go through that tough phase because it was always part of life. They slowly learned those skills over time.

No matter what type of childcare you pick, I think it is important to realize this difference in when these skills are learned when making your choice. I didn’t know this until my first was about 3 years old and I can see how this might have influenced my decision way back when.

Peer pressure learning

On par with social skills is that fact that they want to be little ducklings. Once kids adjust and become comfortable in their environment, their best learners are each other. Kids learn best from other kids from the get-go and this doesn’t change. Therefore, kids are more likely to eat, sleep, partake in activities and play if everyone else is doing this.

At this age, peer pressure can really make your life easier and really help your kid. I am shocked at what my toddler is willing to eat in a group setting. She will eat all kinds of vegetables, but at home she won’t even let me put some on her plate. And I hear again and again from parents of older toddlers that their toddler will nap at daycare but will not nap for them.

There will be more activities

I think you would be hard-pressed to find a nanny who can provide as many activities or curriculum as a daycare. They work on skills from day one because they need to. If they teach basic baby sign language, then they have fewer temper tantrums. If they teach babies how to go downstairs feet first on their tummy, then they have a safer environment.

If they teach them how to interact and “share”, then there is less intervening. I put quotes around share because at that age they can’t comprehend sharing, but most teach that if a toy is free, then they can use it. If they work on using words with older kids, then they learn the appropriate way to respond instead of screaming.

All of these things make their jobs easier, but it also teaches your child life skills. The sooner they learn them, the less frustrated the child is because they now know how to navigate their world and ask for their needs to be met.

And on that note, I think daycare providers have more incentive to teach children instead of just putting them in time-out. If they don’t work on building kids’ skill sets, then every kid would be in time-out continuously. It would be a mess and exhausting on the providers. However, a nanny doesn’t have that same incentive, she can do her job which is get one kid to behave with just time-outs.

Something else that daycares know is when to teach things and what type of activities are appropriate for each age. They have a curriculum. They will have story time, circle time, arts and crafts, play time. And during these times, kids are gaining skills in so many areas.

Let’s say you set up a schedule for your nanny and provide activities and crafts, you won’t know if they did that. You won’t know how the day was actually spent. They might give you a summary. But you don’t know how much time they were on their phone texting or ignoring your child, etc.

Something else we have found is that because they spend time out of the house, they are less bored of your house which is awesome for when they are home.

They produce good sleepers

A daycare provider is well versed in babies and toddlers and that includes sleep. I swear these people are magicians when it comes to sleep and that’s because this isn’t their first rodeo. At max, it might be your nanny’s 3rd or 4th baby they have watched. If you start to ask around, then I think what you will find is that most parents saw sleep improvements with daycare.

I think this is just because you get so much better at staying on schedule and knowing sleep cues when you work at a daycare. I mean even my second time around as a mom, my child slept so much better simply because I had already gone through a learning curve with my first.

I realized that they have more patience because they can hand off the baby to another adult when they need a break. A nanny can’t do that. They can also hand off a baby to another provider if they aren’t having luck on getting baby to take a bottle or fall asleep.

Therefore, this is also a preventative measure (the ability to hand baby to another adult), against any type of abuse, both verbal and physical.

You will have instant parent friends

Immediately after joining a daycare, we had a new friend group through our kids. Most of the time, you don’t get this until your kids start kindergarten. The best part is that your kids already know how to play with each other from daycare so getting together is easier.

We can seriously just hang out with the parents because the kids know how to play. Remember that point on learning social skills. The kids all know how to interact and play independently together.

When I do playdates with kids who are just at home, then it is a different scene. The social skills are not as advanced so there is a lot more involvement from parents. This is 100% fine. Kids that stay at home will build social skills eventually and we hang out with a lot of stay at home kids. My point is that having adult friends who have kids who already get along with your child is a big plus of daycare.

If you get pictures of your kid, then try to notice who they are playing with or always sitting near. Chances are they are friends so ask the parents to do a weekend play date.

Daycares are more reliable

I can’t tell you the number of complaints I hear from my friends who use nannies or babysitters on this topic. When your nanny calls you the night before or even the morning of saying that they are sick, what is your plan? Most of the time, this means you or your other half need to now stay at home. Now, sure once or twice this is no big deal. But it will probably be more often than you are imagining it to be. Let’s say your nanny is always late or is unreliable, now you need to find another one, which can be quite challenging.

Daycares are always open when they say they will be open. You can count on them. They are also always on time since you drop off your kid.

Pursue your child’s care Today

I do not envy anyone trying to navigate the best care for their kids. It was so hard for me to decide what to do and I felt that no matter what I decided nothing would be perfect. Every choice had upsides and some major downsides.

In the end, the most important thing is that you feel your kids are safe and are in an environment where they can thrive. These beginning years are important and therefore we went for a daycare even though it was more expensive. We felt the extra expense was well worth it.

We had multiple providers giving us collectively more experience and a system of checks and balances. The activities were endless, and the social learning showed as our kids aged. We also met some really great parent friends from the experience.

Where have you landed in the nanny vs daycare debate, and why? Let me know in the comments 🙂

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Deciding on care for your child is a very big decision. The stakes are high since there is no way for your baby to tell you what is going on. It is also a huge decision because your caregiver will shape your child’s development. There are endless pros and cons to staying at home vs. daycare vs. nanny. After going through the process myself, we decided on a mix of daycare and staying at home. Here are all the reasons I would pick a daycare over a nanny any day. #parenting #childcare #motherhood

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Levi Armstrong

Friday 11th of September 2020

I like that you said that one of the advantages of enrolling my child in a child daycare center is that they would learn social skills at an early age, which would make it easy for them to enter preschool or kindergarten. My child, Siobhan, has always been a shy girl ever since she was born. I'll be going back to work fulltime next year, so I'm deciding whether to put her in a daycare or hire a nanny. With what you've said in your article, I'm now convinced that a daycare center would be a better choice. Thanks!

Taylor Hansen

Friday 4th of September 2020

I'm trying to decide on what daycare to send our 2-year-old daughter since I have to go back to work. It's good to know that childcare teaches kids life skills as well as social skills with other children. I think I'd have to find a good childcare center that takes precautions and will wear masks.

Levi Armstrong

Tuesday 16th of June 2020

Emilia, I like that you said one of the benefits of taking my daughter to a child care center is that she would be taught life skills that would enable her to navigate her own world be less dependent on us. My wife and I have been debating whether we should get a nanny or take her to daycare once my wife goes back to work. After reading your article, I think I'd have to agree with my wife and let our daughter spend her days in a child care center instead of being alone in our home with a nanny. Thanks for this!


Friday 25th of October 2019

As someone who has worked as both a school Teacher, nanny, and daycare center teacher i can honestly say i DisaGree with this article. I worked with one nanny family for 6 years and We worked together to raise the kindest most bRilliant littLe humans. Daycare centers have huge Turnover rates, so your child Never really has a trusted “person” at school. Kids are Put in time out a lot and are left UNSUPERVISED due high staff to child ratios. Teachers are Often underpaid and over worked, and child are rarely worked with but instead put In timeout. I actually ended up Quitting both of my daycare center Jobs because i was Uncomfortable with how the children were treaTed. When i was a nanny I loved it. The children were hitting milestones much sooner than Daycare kids because they conStantly had 1/1 adult time. They Had AMAZING vocabularies and grammar at a young age. Because im bilingual my nanny babies were able to learn a second language. They both slept amazing because i was able to work with the parents on sleep training, and they were completely slee trained and sleeping through the night by 4 months, all 5 of them! Parents got constant pictures throughout the day so they knew we were Doing things, they even had a whOLe wall in the toy room DEDICATED to art we made. the children were more than social, they took gymnastic, swimming, dance, and community ed classes. On top of that we were Always at the Park, zoo, library, or MUSEUMS. Unlike daycare providers who have 5 people watching Their kid thRoughout the day, the families Just had me so i was able to form a friendship with them and COMMUNICATE constantly about the kiddos needs. There was no turn over Of a new teacher every few months, i stuck around till KINDERGARTEN. Unlike day cares which tell kids to “put away their tears” when they Cry, or yell and put them in time out, i was able to work with them on redirectIon and Talkig through their feelings. Not many kids at 3 will tell another kid “it really maDe me sad that you Tried to take my toy, Ill play with it for 2 more minutes thEn ill share with you” but my 3 Year old nanny babies sure as heck did. In the end nannies will love your babies. They will get excited when they Take their first Steps, THEY'LL cry when they turn one, THEY'LL show up to every dance recital, birthday party and soccer game. They’ll miss your kids over the weekend, and will look foward to snuggles on monday. They’ll tell Your kids they love them and mean it, and they will reallt care about the People they grow up to be. I mean sure daycare centers have lots of workers, but none of tHem can say that.

Milani Hall

Saturday 27th of March 2021

Aww this is so sweet. I'm really excited to become a nanny now!


Tuesday 27th of August 2019

As someone who worked for one of the largest Early Childhood Education companies is the USA I feel you are giving credit where it may not be due. Although I did gain a ton of experience working with children for 13 years and found joy in effectively using my companies curriculum not all of my coworkers did. There are people in every job that just come for the paycheck. I have also found that unfortunately with the low pay generally found in daycares and preschools the turnover is constant. I think childcare is a very personal decision and I respect that this article is simply your opinion, but I felt the need to pull back the curtain so to speak.

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