When to start looking for in-home daycare or nanny?


I'm due in October with our first. We'll need full time childcare starting in March, when baby is about 4 months old. I started looking several months ago, and got on several daycare center waitlists, but I don't expect to get off those lists by march, so I'm looking at either licensed in-home daycare or a nanny.

When I was looking at 4 months pregnant, I was told by Bananas it was just way too soon to know who would have openings. That said, I don't want to miss my chance to find a good fit for childcare for our family. When do you recommend looking? How far out will places know about their openings?

We're mostly looking in Berkeley, though we might consider Albany, El Cerrito, or Oakland if it was an amazing fit.



Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

It seems to vary a lot. With my first, I tried to look far in advance and in-home centers all told me it was too early and check back just a couple of months before we wanted care. With my second, remembering this experience, I waited until about six months before we wanted care and most in-home daycares told me they didn't have openings for more than a year. Don't know if that's because things have changed in the three years between my kids or if it's just a coincidence (these were all different daycares as we moved to a new neighborhood between kids). So we are doing a nanny share because I couldn't find an opening at a daycare that worked for us.

I'd recommend looking as early as possible for a daycare - the worst that can happen is they'll tell you it's too soon for them and then you can call back later.

Nanny timelines are totally different - if you want a share, you can look for a family to share with in advance, but you probably won't be able to find a nanny until closer to the date.

The way to think about it is, how far in advance do families give notice when they no longer need a nanny or daycare, and when do nannies start actively seeking another job? From what I've observed, it seems that a lot of nannies hit the job market about a month or so before they're available. In-home daycare providers often don't get much more than a week or two advance notice that an infant is leaving. If you get lucky, you hear about an upcoming vacancy further in advance: a family moving away or graduating to preschool. You might start putting out word of mouth feelers just before your baby is born, and start advertising and actively looking 6-8 weeks before you need care.

Also, when your baby is born, email the daycare centers where you're waitlisted to let them know and that you're still interested. 

Hey, we are in the same boat. There are some daycares that accept early submissions - Berkeley ECEP being one. That said, it's a crazy process!! One places told us they were already full until Fall 2020! 

For in-home daycares, I started looking about 3 months in advance and still managed to find a few places with openings, but I think that was in part due to luck. I don't think it's too soon for you to look at in-home daycares right now, especially since it will be much harder to do after the baby is born and you are busy with the newborn. Also, you would be looking for infant slots (as opposed to toddlers), so many in-home daycares have regulated ratios for how many infants vs. how many toddlers they can care for, which is also in part why getting on the waitlist is good. Nannies need less lead time in my experience, and we found one within 1 week, thanks to the great childcare resource on BPN. However, if entertaining a share or just want to have time for securing a nanny, it's never too early. All said, it is an overwhelming task, so it is definitely worth it to do your research now because then you will also be able to narrow it down to what fits your family regarding approach/cost/convenience, etc., i.e. bigger center, home daycare, nanny/share. Good luck!