Family Planning

Ask Sofia: Should I choose a childcare center or nanny?

The daycare decision for working parents can be one of the most stressful to make. Nanny? Childcare center? Or a little bit of both? It is smart to start brainstorming options fairly early on in your pregnancy, since many centers will have wait lists for newborn spots.

Following are some of the pros and cons of both options:

Childcare center


  • Child can expand social skills and meet new friends.
  • Follows state regulations/accreditation.
  • They typically offer a variety of toys, games, books and options.
  • Some centers double as a preschool.
  • Multiple teachers/adults.
  • May cost less.


  • Exposure to more illness and germs, and not available when kids are sick.
  • All kids within an age group are expected to maintain the same schedule; lack of flexibility.
  • Some centers have high staff turnover rates.



  • Can build a close one-on-one bond with your child; individual attention.
  • May be able to drive to classes/lessons, pack lunches, make dinner, etc.
  • With the option of a nanny share, may cost less.
  • Convenience of having someone come to your house and the ability to customize a schedule based on your family’s needs.


  • If your nanny is sick or unavailable, you may find yourself suddenly without child care.
  • You will need to manage one more person, including vacation/sick policies, insurance and overall style.
  • Lack of oversight.

Before you make a decision, take some time to thoughtfully review your schedule, budget and timeline. You can tour local centers (and get on wait lists if you are interested) and interview potential nannies as well.

“No matter what option you choose, know that the time your children have with you is what matters most to their early development and bonding,” said Dr. Amy Hammers. “This decision really comes down to your comfort level as well as convenience and cost and the overall fit for your life and lifestyle. We spent a fair amount of time debating our options and we chose full-time daycare with an occasional nanny for on-call situations.”


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