How to Find Part-Time Childcare

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • How to find childcare for 4 hours/week

    (7 replies)


    I am in need of some advice. I am returning to school soon and I’ve arranged most of it to be online. However there is one class that requires in person meet ups. My MIL originally agreed to care for my infant but has ultimately chosen to to do so anymore. This leaves me in a dilemma because I only need short term care once a week for about 4 hours maximum. This is not enough work to entice a nanny/babysitter or to enroll him in daycare. My ideal situation as of right now is maybe finding a family who needs ocasional care as well, where we can exchange “babysitting” days.

    Is that even feasible? Any who, I’d love to hear feedback or hear from families whom might be interested in this type of short term arrangement. Thank you.

    You can also try UrbanSitter. 

    As someone who had babies during grad school, I strongly encourage you to get more than 4 hours/week of childcare if you can possibly afford it!! That might be all you need right now to attend class, but there will also be assignments, meetings with faculty, possibly meetings with classmates, etc. And you didn't mention the age of your infant but you have probably already seen that they change rapidly. There might be stretches now when you can do stuff while baby sleeps, but that will change, and of course you need some time for showers, meal prep, etc!

    But to answer your actual question, I think you can likely find a college student to babysit four hours/week (or maybe even a high school student depending on the schedule you need, if you are comfortable with a teen sitter). Try posting on the college job boards.

    I did do the exchange with another family for my first semester post-baby and that worked pretty well. Your college/university may be able to connect you with other student parents and I guess posting in the BPN childcare digest is a good option too but might take a while.

    I think if you post here with the specific dates and hours, there are plenty of folks, including college students or other parents, who might be interested in an arrangement like this.

    We do not fall into the category of needing occasional care, but just wanted to say that if you don't find another family to 'trade' childcare with, or would be good places to look for a recurring babysitter, if you have not checked there already. I know it's not a lot of hours, but the fact that it's recurring/predictable for some period of time could be a draw. Of course I see the appeal of a barter with another family, but worth considering if that does not work out!

    Hi there,

    Have you tried posting on I have needed several short term arrangements and have always found success on I don't know if you're close to the university at all, but I've also found success posting on Craigslist specifically asking for students who are interested in a short term low hour job. Currently, we found a wonderful student to hang out with our daughter for just an hour and a half 3 mornings a week. If you're patient, you can definitely find someone great using those resources. Good luck! 

    Hello! I am in nearly the same boat! I love your idea of finding a family to exchange with. We are pretty Covid-cautious, so I'm not quite sure how to work that out but seems like a live chat would be best? A little info about us--my husband is a historian in a fellowship but looking for a FT position. I studied psych and now do life coaching but mostly mom-ing to my 3 year-old and 4 month-old. My 3-year-old is in a Covid-cautious preschool part-time. Let me know if you'd like to talk further! 

    I had a baby while in grad school and also highly recommend more childcare. Even if your classes are online, if they are synchronous, what will you do if your baby is crying nonstop for an hour (this happens, ask me how I know)? Even if they are asynchronous, you will need time for them and your homework, and your baby's nap schedule may be unpredictable and ever-changing. If budget is a concern, I'd suggest making the effort to find a family to swap with. We started a small babysitting coop when my kid was a baby and it is hands down the best parenting decision we have made. It can take effort to find the right family who you trust with your kid, but so worth it. Your other option is a babysitter or, if you're going to be in the house you could even get a mother's helper (usually someone younger and less experienced, but fine if you are around in case they need you, and cheaper). 

  • I am hoping anyone has experience or knows of a daycare/preschool that takes children once per week, sometimes twice. Something where you can be flexible. I do not need to put my son in daycare all the time yet and also he is with his Dad half of the time. I've noticed that very few places offer a 2-day per week schedule, but have found nothing that's a more "as needed" basis. Is that not done?

    My limitations are: must be in North Berkeley, and hopefully not too pricey as I'm on a super tight budget. 

    Does anyone have any ideas? I appreciate it, thank you!!

    Due to limiting the mixing of students and teachers to minimize Covid spread, daycares that previously offered partial schedules (Model School, Cornerstone), do not anymore, at least until Covid stable cohort requirements change. Further - if you're looking for something cheap, the one or two day a week thing is typically far more expensive per day than five days a week.  They also require firm commitments on days, typically, like every Monday, Tuesday - they need to be able to schedule staffing. Home daycares almost always offer more flexibility and are often cheaper and I suspect would be the only type of daycare that could accommodate your needs.

    You didn't mention your son's age - I think there are generally much more options for kids once they are two or three. I can't think of a daycare center that takes kids under 2 in North Berkeley, but there are a bunch of preschools that take older kids in North Berkeley.

    If you're really looking more for childcare than school, I'd guess that you are best off getting a nanny or babysitter, both in terms of price and availability of options that will meet your needs.

    I have also been looking for this without much luck. The 2-day per week prices that I have been quoted are all >$1000 which doesn't make sense for me to spend.

    Kidsland Channing provided this type of care for my daughter last year and we were so happy with it! It is a Spanish immersion program and the care is wonderful and flexible. They have a page on BPN, so just use the search field to find them. Best of luck!

    This is definitely something that is difficult to find in a more traditional daycare setting, but with some luck you might be able to find something. While I totally get the desire, the ask for a flexible schedule is generally too big of a lift for daycare centers and staff that need to manage scheduling, supplies, and legal limits on the max number of kids that can be in care at once, not to mention the staff that depends on consistent work.

    This home daycare: might be able to help. It ended up not being right for us in the long term, and I have no idea how she has handled covid, but Manar is extremely kind, warm, and flexible and affordable, and genuinely cares about the kids in her care.

    I imagine you might have better luck with a nanny type situation, or some sort of unique situation where you have a part-time student or another person who doesn't need/want full time work, but who does need/want a bit of extra income on the side. I ended up finding something similar to this with a nanny share, but again it's the flexibility aspect that will likely be difficult. Have you tried posting your need/requests for care on BPN, or, or even nextdoor? Best of luck with your search! 

  • Does anyone have some good East Bay resources (for reference, I'm in El Cerrito) to post jobs or find occasional babysitters? I have been using, but finding that most of that site is geared toward identifying career nannies. I need to find regular, after work childcare for a couple hours, a couple days a week.. are there message boards for local community colleges or the universities that anyone has found successful? Other sites? Or is it all word-of-mouth and friends-of-friends? TIA for any ideas.

    [Moderator note] The listing "Nannies & Sitters available" on BPN's website contains posts from babysitters currently offering care - BPN has more than 350 nanny subscribers and 200 college students who subscribe. Parents can also post a message to the listing to look for childcare.

    I've used the app urban sitter to do occasional date night babysitting. It does have a fee, I can't remember how much. Now that I've found a great sitter of the app, we just use her each time since shes typically available. and UrbanSitter are similar. I haven't been on them in a while but I think they typically skew toward folks looking for occasional babysitting (vs. career gigs). I wonder if the balance has tipped over the past year due to COVID (former career nannies lost their jobs when parents went remote and went on those sites to look for new ones; occasional babysitters dropped off because fewer people were hiring for that). Hopefully it swings back in the coming months! 

    I would also suggest posting your specific needs (hours, days) to both BPN and to the Bananas childcare forum if you haven't already. 

    Hi! I got a great list from the Kensington Community center, all had been counselors at summer camps in years past. So far every sitter on the list has been great. 

  • Looking for part-time daycare/preschool

    (4 replies)

    Hi all
    My family and I have just moved to the East Bay and we are looking for a part-time preschool option for my 3.5 year old son and a part-time care option for my 1 year old. I know the year is just started and most schools are at capacity but any ideas are appreciated.
    Thank you!

    Not sure where you're located, but East Bay Waldorf in El Sobrante offers morning preschool with aftercare for kids ages 3 to 5, and parent-child classes for young toddlers (no dropoff for toddlers unfortunately). We have been attending the parent-child classes for a year and a half and are very happy with them, and have several friends enrolled in the preschool who are very happy there (especially with the 3-day classes). I know that both preschool classes are pretty small, so it's entirely possible they would accept a child for enrollment even though the school year has started. Give them a call or check out the website:

    Where in the East Bay are you located?

    [moderator note: inner east bay - Berkeley, Albany, El Cerrito]

    Check with Ducks Nest - they're terrific (and so very popular) but they have 3 campuses now and might have room for a part-timer. Our son finished his 3rd year at the 41st Street campus last year and we have nothing but good things to say about DN!

    I highly recommend checking out Kensington Nursery School (KNS). Both of my sons have attended (younger son is still enrolled) and we couldn't be happier with the school. The teachers are truly excellent, and my kids have really thrived there thanks to lots of fun, play-based learning and a wonderful community of friends. We switched to KNS from a home-based preschool where my then-three-year-old son was struggling a bit to fit in, and I'm forever glad we did because it made his life so much happier (and my life a lot easier.) 

    I know they have space in their morning program. Here's their website if you're interested in setting up a tour.  

  • Question about part-time day care

    (1 reply)


     Do any of you know of any day cares that offer part time care for infants? I will be returning to work in September when my baby is 7 months old, and am hoping to find day care for her 2-3 days per week. We will have grandparents caring for her on the other days.  Alternatively, do any of you have experience setting up a part time nanny share? We would be flexible with days as the grandparents can take any days of the week. I just felt that it might be more complicated doing a part time share with another family to find a matching schedule and to find a nanny to match. This is our first so any advice is welcome. We live in North Oakland and I work at UC Berkeley so ideally the day care is located in North Oakland, South Berkeley, or Emeryville. Many thanks, Brook (and Juno, 11 weeks)

    You are unlikely to find a daycare that can offer you part-time infant care.  Daycares are limited by state law in how many children under 2 they can accept, so it can be hard to find a daycare that has a spot available for a baby. Even if you do,  their preference is going to be for a full-time baby to fill that spot, not part-time. Your best bet is a nanny share. Lots of families only need part-time nanny care and many of them are flexible on hours, so there's a good chance you can find a nanny share that works for your days and hours.  Good luck!

  • How difficult is it to find part-time childcare for weekday mornings? I am considering a job in the southbay which would require me to leave very early in the morning 3-4 days a week. We would want someone willing to arrive at our house around 7 and get the kids ready and to school. Just wondering how challenging it will be to find someone looking for just a few hours a week. We would also consider giving this person extra duties- like laundry and grocery shopping- if they wanted more hours. I am hopeful we can find this person, but would love to know others experiences/ advice.

    When my child started preschool, I only needed care in the afternoons, and my sense was there were a number of parents in my situation. I would have loved to have partnered up with someone like you who needed morning work only.  Instead, I ended up paying the nanny for morning "work" that consisted mostly of her napping on the couch.  I could be wrong, but I think it would be easy to find someone who is using their nanny (or wants to use their nanny) for afternoons only, and share the nanny this way.  

Archived Q&A and Reviews



Do kids have a harder time with part-time daycare?

May 2004

We have been looking for part time daycare for our 20-month-old son for several months now, and have been disappointed to find that most daycares require either fulltime or at the least, 3 days per week attendance. After much frustration with the process, we have found a daycare we really like, that has an opening for us.

The problem is that we really would prefer our son to go 2 days a week, since that is the amount of time we need the daycare for, and we value and want to keep the rest of the time we spend with him during the week. This daycare (and it seems, most that I talk to that will do part time at all) has a 3 day per week minimum. The care provider says that it is because otherwise the kids don't integrate well with the other kids.

My question is this: have you found this to be the case, those of you who have your kids in daycare 2 days a week or less? Is it worth it to do the 3 days, or should we keep looking for a good daycare that will let us do 2 days? Thanks! Jen

One of the little boys at my son's current daycare has only been going two mornings a week -- and I so often come to pick up my son, and see this little boy playing all by himself, while the other kids play together. He seems fine emotionally, but it still seems sad to me. I know that my daycare provider is excellent, and that she would do what she could to help the child integrate... but it does seem like he is not integrating well with the other kids. When I asked her about it, she did attribute it to his only coming twice a week. Karen

Hi, A lot of this may depend on the child's personality - but i'll give you my spiel anyway and see if it helps. At 20 months we started our son in daycare 2 mornings a week (8AM - 1PM) so that he could have some socializing time away from me and I could have time to work out, run errands, etc. He is a pretty easy going boy but is also very attached to his parents. It took him about 1.5 months to get to the point where he was not crying on pick up and drop off, calling the teachers ''mommy'' and having teary moments throughout the day. Several other parents i talked to during this period were telling me that they didn't think he was going to daycare enough etc. I was torn. I didn't want to add hours to his day care and I didn't want him to be miserable, when this was supposed to be fun for him. We started talking to him much more at home about ''school'' and his friends and teachers and the fun things they do. About 2 months after he started, he began to love it and got excited to go. Now it's six months later and he loves his two mornings a week. He is into the school routine and has a fun time with his friends - and his teachers always comment on how social and interactive he is with the other kids - so integration has not been a problem. I am glad I didn't add or subtract any time as it's a perfect schedule for us. So my advice is follow your instincts as to the amount of time you want him to be there, and also give it a little time in the beginning - as it may take him longer to get used to it as he is going less. EB

My son has been in family daycare (full-time) for 2 1/2 years. I spend a lot of time there and have gotten to know all the kids pretty well. I have definitely seen firsthand that kids who go only 2 days a week are more likely to have trouble adjusting. They cry for long periods of time and just generally seem to have a hard time. My provider has seen this enough that she has now stopped accepting kids for less than 3 days a week. She's been doing this a long time, and is very good at what she does, and I trust her instincts on this. When I was temporarily unemployed I reduced my son's time to 4 days a week and even then I could tell that going any less than that would have been difficult for him. It was very hard for him to get back into the routine of going to daycare after 3 days in a row with me.

Of course, every child is different and perhaps some may do just fine with only two days, but I have seen enough kids struggle with it that I would advise against it. If you are set on 2 days perhaps you could call Bananas to see if they know of places that will let you do that. Best of luck! anon

My daughter, now 25 months, has been attending a day care since she was 11 months old, but only one day a week, and two Fridays a month. I think it was tough for her for quite some time, mostly because I was leaving her, but also because it in some ways was like starting over for her each week. I commend you for wanting to spend as much time as possible with your son. That was our primary goal as well, hence as little time at daycare as possible. I would go with the daycare you really like--it can be hard to find a good match. Even though you only need him to go 2 days a week, perhaps you could, when you needed to, use that 3rd day to run errands or have time for yourselves. (That's why my daughter goes 2 Fridays a month in addition to her one day a week.) c's mom


Where to find part-time childcare

June 2002


I am considering putting my 10-month old daughter into daycare one or two days per week but have several concerns. I have been told that children who go to daycare less than three times a week take a long time to settle into the new routine. Has anybody had experience with this frequency of daycare at this age? Also, one of the daycare situations I am considering has the children take their naps at the same time in the afternoon, which would be a switch from my daughter's current schedule of one morning and one late afternoon nap. Is ten-months a good time to transition a baby into the afternoon nap? Any advice would be appreciated. Madeline

If you are going to put your child into daycare for 1-2 days a week I'm assuming that you need a break, or to work. Therefore, my experience was that if the setup is good, loving, and compatible, your baby will do just fine 1-2 days. There is the common feeling that 3x week is easiest on the child but I think you should put your child into care for exactly what you need, and go from there. My child did fine one and then two times a week, and then when she was three something seemed to enjoy herself even better 3x a week. There is no one rule so I'd experiment. Ilona

My son started in part-time daycare at Linda's Family Daycare with no problems when he was six months old. I think he started with two half days per week and later switched to three half days per week. My kids switched from two naps to one nap per day around their first birthdays. Ten months may be a little early, but it probably depends on the baby. Jennifer N.

My son started a part-time nanny-share situation only 2 days a weeek, although he was younger than your daughter when he started (6 months). He was fine with it -- although he is a very calm baby and adapts easily to things. So I think some of it depends on your child's temperament.

About naps: My son is now 12 months old, and still takes 2 naps a day. When he only gets one nap, he has a harder time sleeping at night, and is in general somewhat crabbier than usual. The other two kids that share the nanny with him are a month older than he, and they also still take 2 naps a day most of the time. I think you should (if possible) let your child tell you when she is ready to move from two naps to one a day. Karen

Our son, now 16 months old, began daycare at age 7 months for 10 hours per week, and went to 20 hours per week at age 10 months, when I went back to work regularly. Maybe because he was in a one nanny to 2 boys ratio, or because he was already familiar with the babysitting house [friends], or because he has a relatively outgoing personality, but he took to it and to his babysitter like a fish to water.

The other 3 weekdays [he goes for 2 long days and an occasional 3rd when my work is busy] he's home with me. He is very happy, playful, healthy, and still has an inquisitive friendly personality.

We started him on one nap a day at 11 months, pretty much because we figured it might be the only way we'd get him to sleep before 10 at night. His afternoon nap, at 1 - 2 hours, suits him quite well, and he goes to sleep pretty regularly now at 8 - 8:30 pm. -Jean


Where to find part-time childcare



I was able to find a couple of different sitters over the last year for our baby. Banana's has some referrals, but I found that most wanted more hours than they indicated initially. You might be able to find someone who is already working the other three days a week. You should check Banana's split share file. These are called in by parents who are trying to fill in the week for their sitter so that they don't lose them to full time work. The two people I hired were 10/hr. There are people out there who work for less as well as more.