Nanny vs daycare – Which to choose for your child

When considering your family's childcare needs, you may have narrowed your choice to hiring a nanny or putting your child into daycare.

Making the best childcare decision for your family usually depends on a number of factors. Not only should you consider cost, availability and experience, but there is research to do before making your final choice.

Review their qualifications

The very first step, before anyone takes care of your cherished little ones, is to do your research. In the age of the internet, along with some good old-fashioned phone calls, you can verify the qualifications of a potential nanny or daycare provider.

When reviewing ads for a nanny, babysitter, or daycare provider, see how long they have worked with children professionally and how many years of experience they have in general. CPR and first aid certifications are two qualifications that can be very useful in an emergency. You may want to ask a nanny what ages of children they are most comfortable working with, if they drive a car, and how far away do they live. You may want to check a daycare provider’s qualifications and license, review its medical procedures, and visit the site, of course, perhaps a few times.

And once you’re going through the process, why not also vet a second nanny or an alternate daycare so you can count on them if needed?

References are a must

For a nanny: Once you have found someone you believe has the qualifications you’re looking for, it’s time to carefully check their references. Consider asking for a list of their three most recent jobs and contact each one. Prepare a list of questions that are important to you, such as: How often do they cancel and how much notice have they given? Do they show up on time? How do the children interact with them? Do they have a driver’s license?

In addition to calling the references you are given, you may want to ask for other references like a community or sporting group, neighbours, or a school – places you can contact on your own and ask to speak to those who know the nanny.

For a daycare: In addition to much of the advice above, ask to speak to several parents of children currently attending the daycare. Prepare your questions for each: Does the childcare provide a clean, happy safe environment for their kids? What kind of activities are planned for the children? How flexible are the dropoff/pickup times, etc?

Always meet in person

Of course, whether you find a nanny online or from a friend, meeting them in person is extremely important. Always choose a public place for your first meeting, and bring a friend along, if you like. You may want to ask them for ID and make note of it. If they have qualifications like CPR training, you can ask to see the original certificate.

Same is true for a daycare. Visit the site a few times. Ask for detailed information on everyone who will interact with your child. Check their license and various certifications. How many children are they licensed to look after and how many are they currently looking after – and their ages?

Background checks

Before you invite a nanny to your home or drop off your child at daycare, consider having a background check done on all those who will interact with your child. These kinds of checks can look into their education, employment history, identity and criminal record. Several agencies across Canada offer this service.


Once you are satisfied with the references, the in-person meeting and the background check, perhaps ask the nanny to spend a few hours with your kids as a test-run. For a daycare centre, ask to spend some time there with your kids. Afterwards, ask your children how they felt about the experience.


When deciding on a nanny versus daycare, consider the pros and cons of each. For instance, a nanny can be expensive and may be out of your price range. If you have more than two children that need care, though, going with a nanny may be cost-effective. Rather than paying a daycare fee per child, you’ll pay a nanny an hourly rate between minimum wage and roughly $20 per hour to care for two or more kids.


With nanny care, your children will be able to awaken on their natural schedules foregoing the morning rush to daycare. If you’ve done your due diligence beforehand, you’ll likely feel more confident leaving your child in the safe hands of a single nanny you vet yourself. Plus, a nanny may take on extra household responsibilities and allow for a more flexible schedule than a daycare might.

On the other hand, taking your child to daycare means your house doesn’t always have to be in perfect order before you leave for work. And it can mean less mess when you come home, too. But the start and pickup times of a daycare are usually less flexible – its schedule may conflict with yours, and this can cause extra stress and maybe even financial penalties.

Learning and Play

A good nanny will have special childcare training. She’ll set up a schedule and plan daily activities. But unlike a daycare that’s full of other children and equipment, she’ll need to be intentional about creating opportunities for socialization and learning.

Licensed daycare centres employ certified teachers who follow curriculum with milestones for the children to achieve. A daycare will provide opportunities for your child to participate with other children his or her age–something most preschoolers crave. They’ll participate in stimulating games and activities including outdoor playtime. Your child may miss these things if you choose nanny care.

On the other hand, at a daycare, your child will be one of many children and not necessarily receive the same amount of one-on-one care they would receive from a nanny. They may also have to cope with other unruly children and their germs!


A nanny will offer your child consistency of care, whereas some daycares interchange teachers and have high staff turnovers. You may be better able to personalize your child’s care with a nanny, instructing her to carry out duties as you might.

Nanny agencies make searching for a nanny easy and effective whether you’re interested in finding a full-time nanny, au pair (domestic assistant from a foreign country), student nanny or a part-time nanny.


If communication is important, you may find it easier to keep in touch with a nanny over a daycare centre. You and your nanny may be able to exchange text messages and photos. You may be able to check in by means of a nanny cam installed in your home. On the downside, if you feel awkward having someone in your home all day while you’re at work, you may prefer going with a daycare.


Online ads provide you with a wide range of options so you can be selective about who will care for your children. It is important to set aside the time needed to do careful research, contact references, interview candidates in person (in a public place for the nanny), and order a background check, so you and your family will be happy with your choice.

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