Nanny or daycare? Weighing the pros and cons of childcare

baby stroller in hand black art vector

 By: Natasha Archary


 Daycare or nanny

One of the most difficult decisions you will make as a parent is which childcare option is best for your little one. Do you consider a daycare or will a fulltime nanny be the route you take?


I have been included in many social conversations around this topic, especially with first-time parents. It can be an overwhelming, especially for moms. Bonding with your newborn during the maternity leave is a special time. The thought of leaving them in someone else’s care when you have to return to work is devastating.


You want the best for your child, that goes without saying. And many think the decision to choose either a nanny or daycare is about the baby, solely. This couldn’t be further from the truth. What’s truly important is what is the best fit for the whole family, especially mom.


Sorry dads, but because mom spends the bulk of the pregnancy forming a bond with baby in womb and during maternity leave, this decision wrecks moms emotionally. Research suggests that a parent’s wellness is highly influential on a child’s IQ, well-being and ability to form relationships.


According to Sarah Griesemer, PhD, a licensed psychologist in Austin, Texas, a daycare may provide consistency and social interaction but a nanny provides something key to maternal health – help around the house.



“You pay how much for daycare?”


When people ask me why I chose a daycare that’s so expensive, the answer is a simple one. Premium care, the convenience that it’s around the corner from work, I like their method of learning and I have access to the webcams.


But yes, budget is a big factor when you make this all-important decision. Is it cheaper to hire a live-in nanny? Do you have her come in for half days only? Will she be helping out around the house too? How much is a daycare supposed to cost on average? Do I sign my child on for just half days a few days a week and work from home for two days? Can I afford this?


Daycares cost anything from R 2500 to R 6000 a month. Premium daycare is not cheap. Not by a long shot and there are additional costs every month for the child’s grooming products, nappies and formula etc that will need to be sent through monthly.


This isn’t to say that nannies are cheaper. Fully trained, competent and capable nannies hired through a reputable and certified nanny agency work on an hourly rate of R 200. You’re looking at around R 7200 a month, if a nine hour day is what you’re hoping for.


Daycare or nanny

Daycare Pros
  • Children who attend daycare in their first year integrate far easier than children who attend later.
  • Daycare provides a structured routine.
  • Kids become more independent, vocal and sociable in daycare.
  • A good daycare will provide activities that will improve your child’s interpersonal, intrapersonal, perceptual, co-ordination and cognitive skills.
  • Most daycare staff, teachers and caregivers are qualified in early childhood development training and are professionally trained in first aid.
  • Daycare makes transitioning to the school environment so much easier and when your child makes the move to Grade 0 the move will be easier to adjust.
  • Your child will learn to adapt to group environments.
  • Classrooms are child and baby proof to avoid unfortunate accidents.


Daycare Cons
  • Germs, germs, germs! Because there are many kids in a class, passing on germs is an unavoidable. Which means your little one is prone to pick up infections, get the sniffles and get sick more often.
  • You won’t have much control over the environment. Classes are structured and you’ll have to go the day without check-ins. The school will notify you if there’s a problem but that’s always a tough one to deal with.
  • Schedules for drop offs and pick ups are strict and have to be adhered to so that you don’t interrupt the class in progress.
  • Schools usually close for holidays and unless you take leave you will have to find alternative babysitters.
  • Your child does not receive one-on-one attention.
  • The menu is set, although it may include healthy snacks and food groups if you have dietary requirements, make sure they will be accommodating.


Nanny Pros
  • The comfort of your own home.
  • One-on-one attention.
  • You’ll have more control over snacks, meals and your child’s environment.
  • Works according to your schedule.


Nanny Cons
  • Nannies may not be trained in early childhood development and may not be able to provide interpersonal, intrapersonal, perceptual, co-ordination and cognitive skills.
  • Unless your nanny speaks the same home language as you, your child may have difficulty learning the languages. Speech may be affected.
  • Minimum wage in the country needs to be considered. There’s also more tax-related paperwork to ensure you’re within legal requirements.
  • Separation anxiety when your child does need to enter Grade 0.
  • Your child may not learn social skills.
  • Your child may not mature or develop as fast as her peers. You see many toddlers who have had nannies being unable to communicate or reach early child development milestones.
  • A nanny may call in sick at the last second and leave you with no childcare options.
  • Unless you have video cameras installed, you won’t know for sure if your child is being mistreated.


Parents are allowed to be especially picky when it comes to their child’s care. Safety and security is a major factor and choosing a daycare, that has secure facilities, proper sign in and sign out procedure and security can all help protect your child.


We’ve seen and heard enough horror stories of children being abused, neglected or mistreated. When it comes to picking the best fit for your child, go with your gut instinct and not just affordability.


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