Daycare vs. Bilingual Nanny for 4-month old infant

We have a 4-month old that we will need to send to daycare (already secured a spot at Cornerstone Childcare Center) or hire a nanny. We hope the baby to be bilingual but are unsure how important it is for the baby to be immersed in that environment now. We would love to hear from other parents and especially if you have opted both options for different kids. Other pros and cons for us: 

Pros for daycare: 

  • More affordable 
  • Only 5 minutes walk from us 
  • Social interactions (? we're also unclear how important this is at this stage) 

Cons for daycare: 

  • I need to go in to breastfeed (or substitute one feed with a bottle; I hope to continue breastfeeding for as long as possible, but worry that she'd develop bottle preference after) 
  • little time to see the baby if the baby goes to sleep at 7pm (I have some mom guilt here) 
  • More germs and sicknesses (but some say early exposure is not a bad idea?) 

Pros for nanny:

  • The nanny speaks our mother tongue
  • Flexible timing 
  • Baby will nap better (she currently is not a good napper, but are crappy naps at daycare just something we need to accept?) 

Cons for nanny

  • We won't save as much financially (it's workable, but not comfortable) 
  • We considered nanny share, but our space is not big. We could potentially make the space work to host two babies, but it would be tight. If we were to go to another family's house, then it would be further than the daycare option we found. 
  • I work from home 100%, perhaps I will crave some quiet space without the baby at some point, even though now it feels hard? 

Appreciate any thoughts/insights or advice! 

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If you’re happy with the quality of your nanny, I would definitely opt for a nanny until your baby is a year or more. You’ll get more time with your kid and have more control over the environment. 

I'd strongly recommend a nanny share for a baby that age. Once they are crawling/walking then the benefits of social interaction at a daycare are more tangible. For sicknesses, early exposure is good but not before 6 months - earlier than 6 months if they get a high fever, you are headed to the hospital. For the share. you can switch off (one week their house, one week yours) to get the quietness you crave. Honestly though for a baby that small, being close by (in the same house) is not a bad thing. 

Just came here to say that our daughter naps much better at preschool than she ever did with our nanny.  Not sure if the same is true for really little kids but I've been amazed!

This is a totally personal decision and IMO the biggest factor here would be financial. The nanny option sounds like far & away the better option, both in terms of convenience and in terms of supporting bilingual language development, but of course it is considerably more expensive. Socialization is great at all ages & stages but I think there are plenty of ways to achieve that outside of daycare.  

Having to go into the daycare center to breastfeed sounds very challenging to me - I had not heard of this before! Beyond just getting the timing exactly right (since this changes and can be at times unpredictable) - I also imagine that this would make the transition to a care center very challenging emotionally. If your daughter develops any separation anxiety (which is extremely common), you'll not only have to go through that at morning drop off, but also every time you come for a feeding & leave again. 

From my own experience: we host a nanny share for my 2nd (youngest) kid who is almost 1 y/o. Hosting at our home has made a HUGE difference for us in a) prolonging breastfeeding, b) convenience - we have an older child so this is critical; and c) getting a little more quality time with him. On mornings where I don't have early meetings, I can nurse & put him down for his morning nap which is a gamechanger. The mother of his nanny share mate had to give up breastfeeding around 7-8 months because babies often consume more by bottle than you can keep up with by pumping (this happened to me as well with my first kid - we did a nanny share hosted at the other family's house). 

I may be biased since I took this approach with both my kids, but I think a nanny share could be a good compromise for you. Will help defray the cost and add in the socialization benefit. Maybe discuss with your nanny your concerns about space - most try to get the kids out of the house as much as possible, so while you would need to make sure you have space for both babies to take their morning nap, for instance, it's likely that the nanny would take them out as soon as they wake up and be out the rest of the day, so they would not be in your space the entire day. Perhaps you could also use it as an excuse to get our yourself, and work from coffee shops or other locations (if that's an option for you).

Hi there! 

We did a nanny share for our older daughter B (before the pandemic) and then sent our younger daughter H to Cornerstone starting around 4 months so I feel like I have lived your questions. You asked so many of the questions I struggled with in making my decisions and keeping H in Cornerstone. 

The bottom line is we loved sending H to Cornerstone even though her naps were sometimes crappy / stressful for us. 

more details: 

besides H’s own sicknesses (of which there was a comparable amount if not less than in B’s nanny share) and due to “COVID outbreaks” in the classes, we had much more reliable care from Cornerstone. If our nanny was out sick, that meant one of us had to take off work for B. Cornerstone, of course, generally always has staff to take care of the children and the staff are phenomenal. So loving and attentive. 

for naps, H’s naps were much worse at the beginning because they didn’t follow our schedule but her naps as a toddler are much stronger (sleeps for longer periods) probably because she’s used to the distractions and noise from the center? That’s just a guess. 

B’s nanny spoke Spanish which B learned. Once we were done with the nanny share (just after 2 years old), we sent her to Chinese immersion preschool and B was able to pick up Chinese without missing a beat. H is about to make the same switch and we are very sad to be leaving the comfort of cornerstone, to be honest, versus with B we felt it was time for her to socialize more (even with COVID out there) and learn from more adults. 

when H was littler, I’d sometimes pick her up earlier to spend more time with her just for the snuggling. Now that she’s older, she is a bit upset if we pick her up early because she’s having so much fun. :) 

we also considered hosting a nanny share for H from our home but we both work from home and that would be many bodies in one space. 

At the end of the day, both of our girls were/are well-loved by their care providers, happy learners in their environment, and not adversely impacted by our decision(s). They both loved their care. So I don’t think you can make a bad decision at all. My husband would pick Cornerstone again and again because of the reliability of the care though we did initially stress out a lot about the state of her naps. 

I hope that helps? Feel free to DM me directly. Happy to chat more :) 

A daycare so close by sounds like an absolute blessing, and to have the flexibility to either drop by to nurse or to send a bottle is amazing. I don't think you should worry at all that a bottle or two a day at daycare is going to cut you off from breastfeeding. Both of my kids were so excited to get back to snuggly boob time at the end of the day. I laughed at your comment about crappy naps, as I had the exact opposite experience with BOTH of my kids--eventually they were ONLY napping at daycare, where they were surrounded by babies chilled out doing the same thing. And, yes, I am SURE you're going to appreciate your house being empty during the day when you're working at home, especially once your little one is mobile. 

I found a nanny share to be much more affordable than day care.  I chose a monolingual Spanish speaking nanny -- not even bilingual as bilingual nannies often revert to English even if it is their 2nd language.  I found it incredibly important to immerse the child in Spanish language and culture from the very beginning, and for as long as possible.  Every child is different, but mine even now as a teenager, still has fluent Spanish.  

Re the nanny situation: is there a park where your nanny could bring the baby? My nanny spends the vast majority of the day at the park, so they're rarely in our home space. My baby gets pretty bored at home, and the park has other nannies and babies to see. That would mean you could potentially do a nanny share, and you don't have to worry about your quiet space.

I would do a nanny at this age and consider day care once you stop breast feeding. The social aspect won't really matter until they are 1.5 or 2 anyway. I had a nanny for the first year and it was great not having to get my baby ready and out the door to daycare - they want your child delivered in a fresh diaper too and you can underestimate how long the morning routine will take. So having a nanny come to your house is a huge time and stress saver. Nannies will also usually tidy up a bit, at least mine did so coming home to a house with the breakfast dishes put away and the laundry folded was wonderful. And of course babies are such fragile things, it's nice to have one-on-one care, assuming you have a nanny with great referrals.

Firstly I think either option can be good care for the baby and you have to consider what you can afford. For me, we went the nanny route. I didn’t think social interaction was important at that age. Rather, secure attachment to caregivers and (if you can) breast feeding. I thought of it as an investment for a defined period of time (two years) then we switched to daycare. One of the big factors to consider is that your child will likely get sick a lot when they first go to group care. And that means a lot of last minute scrambling to find care so we could work or canceling work meetings. We felt that having our child be a bit bigger when that happened would be less stressful for all of us. Our baby wasn’t sick at all at home the first year so we could focus on sleep and routine and everything else. We could also tailor the environment to suit him (dark room for naps, calm quiet environment etc). We definitely thought it was worth it but I’m sure either choice can be good. 

It seems that Cornerstone has glowing reviews, so that's great! My feeling is that 4 months can be a good age to start daycare because the baby doesn't express as much of a preference for a specific caregiver yet (versus at 6 or 8 months, at least that was my experience). You could try daycare and see how it goes. If you feel that it doesn't end up being a good match, then you can always look for a nanny or a share. Babies often do better with naps with other caregivers/in daycare/preschool than with their parents, I have no idea why, but I wouldn't worry about naps.

My personal experience has been that when my first child was 6 months we started him in a daycare center and it didn't work out at all. Signs were that in every picture they sent me of him, he was in distress; every time I picked him up, he was crying; they didn't communicate with me about how his day went and how to improve the bad experience he/we were having. So these are things to look out for. I pulled him out and set up a nanny share instead and that worked well. I am sharing this so you have some examples. I do think that the reviews from the particular daycare center you chose, are great and a good indication that you probably will have a good experience there. With my daughter, we had a nanny from the start and then a nanny share. As you said, it was nice to be able to nurse her pretty much on demand and check in on her. However, as she got older and more active, I didn't enjoy being in a room next to her working, while someone else was taking care of her. It was just hard sometimes. If you have a share and the other family can host or you can split hosting, then that works. All the best!

I would go with the nanny until 2 or 3. Less sickness, more flexibility, more attention for your baby.

A 4-month old baby benefits greatly from dedicated 1-1 interaction and closeness, something that can sometimes be challenging in a day care environment where babies might have competing needs. If you can afford it, working with a nurturing nanny could help the baby development a strong secure base and attachment. 

In terms of language immersion, the earlier the baby can have exposure to the language the faster they can pick it up, and integrate it. Our nanny speaks to our baby only in Spanish since she was born, and now as a toddler, she understands and speaks it, too. One parent, one language is a method many families follow. 

It’s tough balancing work and motherhood. I work from home as well, and I’ve found working with a nanny has allowed me to feel closer (even while working) to the baby, stay in their orbit, and sneak more moments together here and there. 

One resource I’ve found helpful in this parenting journey is Aha Parenting. They have a few resources that talk about daycare vs other care options and learnings from research.