Tips for Choosing Childcare

Parents naturally want a happy and loving childcare environment for their young children. The usual choices are: hire a professional nanny to come to your home every day and teach your child as well as care for him; take your child to a nearby babysitter where he will have other children as playmates; or take your child to a daycare center where several childcare workers share the task of caring for the children. There are pros and cons to each choice.

The Nanny

Choose a nanny to be your childcare provider if you prefer that your child (or children) remain in your home while you are at work. The benefits of this arrangement are that the child does not have to compete for attention and will have one-on-one instruction as well. You or the nanny can arrange play dates with other children.

In addition, some nannies will also do some light housework, such as keeping the child's bedroom and bathroom clean, which will lighten your burden when you return home from work. A nanny may be a necessity if you work frequent overtime or travel on business.

Certified nannies are expensive since they have specialized training in child development and care. Additionally, you may need to provide a car for the nanny to take the child to the park and on play dates. Choose a live-in nanny if you have the extra room in your home and you will not have to worry about her car breaking down and being late for work. Choose a live-out arrangement if you prefer privacy when you are home with the family. Live-in nannies learn everything about your family: your spousal arguments, work problems and other private details.

The disadvantage of hiring a nanny is, if there is no back up when she becomes ill or if she should quit suddenly, then you could have problems with your own job if you cannot go to work. One way to solve this problem is to hire an agency to provide the nanny and keep her on their payroll. Then they will be able to quickly provide other nannies for you to interview. However, this option is significantly more expensive than a direct hire. You will pay the agency a higher weekly fee than they pay to your nanny.

The Babysitter

Choose a babysitter if your budget cannot afford a nanny yet you do not want the child in daycare. This arrangement is usually the least expensive. The quality of childcare provided will vary with the knowledge and experience of the babysitter.

There may be other children of varying ages in the home. Just as with the nanny, however, you could be stuck if the babysitter gets sick, goes on vacation or quits. There is the additional disadvantage of a very young baby without a full set of immunizations exposed to older children who have brought an illness home from school.

Many babysitters are moms who want to stay home with their kids and they take in children for extra money. Many children thrive with this arrangement and become close friends with the other children in the home. They learn social and friendship skills early in life. You may also develop a close friendship with the babysitter.

The Daycare Center

Choose a traditional daycare center if you need guaranteed daily care and you work traditional 9-5 hours. Toddlers enjoy the playground equipment and having other children their own age for playmates. Childcare providers have special training and care for the children as a team.

An advantage to this arrangement is that there will always be staff available to care for your child. State agencies can advise you about the reputation of any daycare center. Safety and cleanliness violations are public record. If the facilities appear to be clean and well-maintained, including the kitchen, then you probably have nothing to worry about.

There are many thousands of very happy and vibrant children in daycare centers. Children enjoy having a structured day-it builds confidence when they have a set routine. Friendships made in daycare will carry on into kindergarten if the children attend the same primary school.


The key factor is to find a quality childcare provider who genuinely loves children. You may run into an occasional problem with another child hitting or biting, but those issues are usually quickly resolved. Children are happy when surrounded by caring people who take a genuine interest in them-regardless if it is a mansion or a mud hut, or a nanny or a babysitter.