Child Care
The Complete Guide to
Child Care
Option Definition Cost
Nanny
Nanny

A nanny is a household employee whose primary job is caring for your children and is highly committed to their growth, education and safety. There are many different types of nannies, depending on whether you’re looking for part-time, full-time, live-in, or live-out care. It’s a nanny’s responsibility to create daily schedules and engage in activities to ensure healthy mental, physical and emotional growth of the children they care for. Most nannies are willing to prepare meals, help with household work (e.g., dishes, laundry, etc.), drive the children to and from activities and assist with homework. BEST FOR: • Personalized care • 1:1 attention • Flexible scheduling, can be part time or full time • Home environment • Investment in child's development and interests • Maintains child’s daily schedule and activities CONSIDERATIONS: • Higher cost than day care • Socialization must be arranged • Nanny taxes if you pay $2,100+ in a calendar year • Benefits for nanny • No built-in backup care

$$$$$

Nanny Share
Nanny Share

A nanny share is when two or more families employ one nanny and share the cost of her salary. Most nannies watch all the children together, but many families will work together to come up with a schedule that’s tailored to their specific needs. A nanny share offers the socialization that you typically don’t find with a private nanny, as well as the one-on-one attention and flexibility that’s hard to come by at a day care. The biggest draw of a nanny share is its cost-effectiveness; the overall cost of sharing a nanny is about two-thirds what you’d typically pay just to have your own. BEST FOR: • Personalized care • Flexible scheduling • Home environment • Socialization with at least one other child • Shared costs • More affordable than 1:1 nanny care CONSIDERATIONS: • Higher cost than day care • Nanny taxes if you pay $2,100+ in a calendar year • Benefits for nanny • No built-in backup care • More to search for — a nanny and a family • Increased coordination among more people • More complex communication

$$$$

Babysitter
Babysitter

A babysitter is someone who cares for children on behalf of the children’s parents or guardians for a few hours. Most babysitting jobs are part-time and paid by the hour. They can be scheduled regularly (e.g., every day from 3-6 p.m.) or for special occasions (e.g., date night). A babysitter’s main tasks are to watch the kids and play with them; she may even be tasked with putting them to bed. A babysitter may be willing take on additional responsibilities (e.g., cooking, light housekeeping, driving children to and from scheduled activities and homework help) for extra money. BEST FOR: • Flexible scheduling • Usually part-time • Often available under short notice • Home environment • More affordable than a nanny CONSIDERATIONS: • May have less child care experience • No built-in backup care

$$

Day Care Center
Day Care Center

A day care center is a form of child care that is offered by private providers in stand-alone centers. Many parents choose a day care, in part, because day care centers are often made to follow strict rules and regulations. They must be licensed by the state, and the qualifications for licensing vary state to state. A day care setting can also provide a wonderful opportunity for children to play together, learn from peers and, in many cases, gain preschool skills. Day care provides children with a learning or activity structure; you may even get regular written reports/updates on your child’s development. BEST FOR: • Socialization with other kids • More affordable than 1:1 nanny care • Full-time child care • Built-in backup care • Usually operate during similar hours to most parents’ work schedules • Plenty of supervision • Staff members have some early childhood education • Licensed and regulated • Most learning is play-based although some may integrate preschool curriculum CONSIDERATIONS: • Higher child-to-teacher ratio • May not offer infant care • May have age and potty training requirements • Exposure to shared germs • Must abide by day care sick policy • Closed most holidays • Strict pickup and drop-off times • Don’t generally follow an academic curriculum

$$$

In-Home Day Care
In-Home Day Care

An in-home day care (sometimes called a "family day care") is a form of child care that is offered by private providers in their home or another private residence. These day care centers are known for their homier settings and often can be found in a family’s neighborhood and close to home. In-home day care programs usually offer a mixed age group with a collection of infants, toddlers and preschoolers, so it's more like a family than a classroom. This diversity can be a great learning environment for kids of all ages. BEST FOR: • Home environment • Socialization with other kids of mixed ages • Siblings can remain together in care • More affordable than 1:1 nanny care • Full-time child care • Lower child-to-provider ratio than day care centers CONSIDERATIONS: • May not have built-in backup care • Exposure to shared germs • Some states do not require them to be licensed

$$$

Au Pair
Au Pair

An au pair is a person from another country who provides live-in child care in exchange for room and board with their host family, along with a stipend. Au pairs must be between the ages of 18 and 26, and must have 32 hours of child care training, or 200 hours in infant care experience if caring for a child under 2 years of age. An au pair can do light housework as it pertains to the children. They can clean areas of the house the children use, change their linens and do their laundry — but can't do any hard scrubbing or wash windows. Au pairs can provide child care up to 45 hours a week, and up to ten hours at a time, but because of work visa protection, they cannot be scheduled for more than that. BEST FOR: • Full-time, live-in care • Personalized care • 1:1 attention • Flexibility • Home environment CONSIDERATIONS: • Must provide room and board • No built-in backup care

$$$$

Child Care Cost Calculator
Find estimates for full-time nannies, nanny shares and day care centers in your area.
Guides to child care Complete guides to child care

I would like to:

The care you need. The jobs you'll love.

Find caregivers or jobs