If you are a working mom then you have the hard decision to make of what kind of child care to get for your baby. If this is your first child, this decision is even harder as you have no first-hand experience of what might be best for you, your baby and family as a whole. At the end of the day if you as a mom have to work to assist in financially supporting your family then there are two choices between child care. You could get a full time nanny at home or you could send your baby to a daycare centre. With most things in life there are positives and negatives to every choice or option.

A Full Time Nanny At Home

A Full Time Nanny At Home
Credit: babysitting6 on Flickr.com via Photopin.com CC 2.0

In today’s age it seems very popular to get a nanny at home for your baby, especially for the first year of their life. Culturally people seem to be isolating themselves and their families more and more. Many years ago it took villages to care for everyone’s needs whereas in today’s society people prefer to keep to themselves. Families are mostly split up as well having grandparents and even great grandparents in different countries let alone cities or towns. Gone is the day that granny lived next door or down the road. Gone are the days where granny was always available to assist in child care and general family support. Hence the reason I only state two choices for child care. It is very rare that you find grandparents in the same town or city and that are able to be the “child care” for the grandchildren while mom and dad work full time.

With such an increasingly physically disconnected age parents need to consider alternative options. Many parents fear the idea of their baby getting sick by going to daycare and being exposed to many other germs than they would if they were to stay at home. Whilst this is a very real fear and concern sometimes it is not always the case.

Babies are exposed to many germs regardless if they go to daycare or not. If you have a nanny at home, surely the nanny may be bringing germs along with her every day. Not only does the nanny bring in germs but so do mom, dad and any other siblings in the house. On the weekends I am sure you don’t always stay indoors, perhaps you go to the park, to the mall, to restaurants? All of these places and people in and around them have potential germs that could be given to your baby. So is this a valid reason to get a nanny versus sending your baby to daycare? I have known many families with babies and young children, all of which use different means of child care. What I have noticed is some babies or children that have a nanny at home or grandparents caring for them have been sicklier than a baby or child that attends a daycare.

Often parents forget that it is not only the child care option that could cause their child to get sick. Each child has a different immune system. Some are stronger than others; some are formula fed versus being fed solely on breast milk; some were premature, perhaps putting them at higher risk; some are just genetically inclined, such as asthma, or eczema.

So if the only reasoning for wanting your baby to be cared for by a nanny at home was around the risk of illness then perhaps you should think more about what you want for your baby.

A nanny at home does however provide full one on one attention to your baby. If they have dual responsibilities of domestic work and caring for your baby then this attention is somewhat divided.

In terms of having a nanny at home who monitors the care they give your baby? Would you get nanny cameras put in the house to make sure your little one is being properly cared for in the way you would like?

Finding a suitable nanny takes time and patience. Trust your instincts in making your choice[1], however you still need to do your homework. There are a variety of child carers out there, all of which have differing degrees of experience and training. It is important to decide what you are looking for and of course what kind of salary you can afford. Legally you would need to draw up a contract for the nanny and in terms of labor law it is vital you know your rights as well as the rights of your employee. For example what sick leave, annual leave, and hours of work and so on are they entitled too?

Consistency is important when it comes to caring for your little ones. They need the consistency of one nanny taking care of them, not a different person every month or two. In order to ensure consistency you could ask that the nanny you choose to commit to a one year contract (depending on your needs of course) and formalize this in an employment contract.[1] You can discuss with your potential nanny how much notice you require should they wish to resign and visas versa how much notice you would give them should the work not be suitable for you.

Having a nanny at home means you need to manage them. Whatever kind of care you want your baby to receive, whatever stimulation or educational activities you want for them, you as the employer need to oversee this will be happening.

Daycare Centre

The Ultimate Decision Daycare Versus Nanny
Credit: Army Child Care Fee's increase in the 2011-2012 school year on Flickr.com via Photopin.com CC 2.0

As with choosing a nanny as a child carer for your baby, choosing a daycare centre also comes with many decisions in terms of what you want for your baby and your family. If you choose to send your baby to daycare then it is important you do your homework in terms of which daycare centre you choose. Many daycares offer different services, such as the age at which babies or children can start, the operating hours, the kind of staff they employ, the monthly costs, the requirements in terms of what you need to send to school with your baby or child. According to legislation daycare centres are bound by certain standards of practice under which they can operate. These standards inform the teacher and child ratio per age group, the legalities around giving medication and so on. It would be important to check that the daycare is in line with your standards as well.

The disadvantage of daycare versus a nanny at home would be the adult to child ratio. In a baby class you can expect one adult to 5 babies. Of course this means your baby won’t get the entire one to one attention you may want them to receive. The positive side to this is that it teaches independence from a very young age. This is the reason for routines in daycare centres. It ensures all the babies and children’s needs are addressed. Babies and children quickly learn and fall into routine though. Routine also makes them feel safe as they know what to expect.

If you are concerned about your baby getting sick often then you do need to come to terms with the reality that when any child first starts school at any age whether it is as a baby or at one years old or even 6 years old, they will get sick to build their immune system. Once they have built their immune system up, they won’t get sick as often. This is also where it is important to look into the daycares sick child policy. Also whether a child is often sickly is not just due to the environment, as I mentioned before, factors such as formula feeding and genetic predispositions also play a role.

When you are looking for a daycare centre be sure to also take note of the kind of staff, the interactions between staff and the children[1], you could ask how long they have been a teacher at the daycare and also perhaps how long the children have attended.

Ideally you want to see teachers showing care and love to the babies and children. You want to see them holding a baby or on the floor with them interacting with them.[1] If you hear shouting and screaming from teachers then this might not be the right place.

Some daycare centres also have camera monitors in each class room so that management can monitor the kind of care the children are receiving. This shows a very good monitory system and lets you know that staff are managed and held to certain standards.

Another sign of a good daycare centre is whether they allow unannounced drop in’s to view the school. This shows they have nothing to hide.

The benefit of sending your baby or child to daycare is that you don’t need to worry about employment contracts and the legalities of employing someone. If the teacher is sick it also doesn’t affect you, meaning your child still goes to school and the management need to ensure there is a teacher to fill in. If this were the case of a nanny then you would be forced to stay off from work, using precious leave days.

In a daycare environment your baby also has the advantage of being socialized with other children from a young age. Repeatedly I see children that have only started attending a daycare later and as a result are not socialized. They tend to fight more, not be willing to share as much and generally not as friendly with other children.

In conclusion there are positives and negatives to any kind of child care you choose. At the end of the day you need to decide what works best for your baby and family. What suits your needs, your budget and your ideals most?