Daycare vs. Nanny for Babies

Parent Q&A

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  • How young is too young for daycare?

    (9 replies)

    Hi parents!

    I'm a first-time mom debating on when to put my son in daycare. While I want him to be as much social as possible, I'm also concerned about his development during the first year of his life... What is your experience with your kids? Would a nanny share be best for the first years? I appreciate any recommendations/ experienes you might have to share. 

    Many thanks!

    We enrolled our daughter at seven months. We wanted to wait longer but between being drained and having several months of work piled up we went for it and found a home-based daycare with four babies (incl ours) and seven kids 2-5. For our daughter it was beneficial to learn skills from kids a little bit older, and she seemed to develop a confidence and sense of independence that might not have happened at home or by just playing at the park and a few times a month with friends older kids. 

    We started our daughter at a wonderful in-home daycare full time at 6 months. And to ease her in, she started going 2x/week for a few weeks prior. She absolutely loves it. She loves the socializing, loves being around other babies and bigger kids. It's been a great decision for us and I'm convinced this has been a better option than having a nanny would have been. The only downside is that she's gotten a LOT of colds. Keeping her home from daycare when she's sick is really disruptive on us and I have friends with nannies who have been far less disrupted. We contemplated switching to a nanny because of this, but in the end feel the socialization piece for her is worth it.

    We enrolled our two kids in a full-time school-based Infant Care center when they were both 6 months old. My younger daughter was enrolled for about 3 months before Covid hit, stayed home for 6 months during the 2020 shutdowns and then went back on a part-time basis for a few more months before ramping back up to full-time. Compared to my older son who was enrolled in the center continuously, I think it took her a little longer to adjust socially (or maybe it was just being isolated at home for 6+ months!) but I didn't see any big differences in other areas of development (motor skills, etc.) She now loves her Preschool and has definitely "come out of her shell" more and is more independent and vocal. Another thing to keep in mind is whenever you decide to enroll in daycare (or PreK), your daughter will probably get sick off and on from the usual daycare germs so be prepared!

    I'll preface this by saying that my kid hasn't done either of these, because my spouse and I unexpectedly switched careers and ended up jettisoning our plans for daycare and then our plans for a nanny share so she could stay home.  But we looked into both options and felt that either could be really good, so these are the considerations we saw. 

    Lots of people send their kids to daycare quite young, and it's totally great.  But they don't NEED social interaction with other kids the first year or even more, especially not on the full time cadence of daycare.  IMO the advantages of a nanny share, if you can afford it, are considerable: much less disruption from illness (especially in the covid era), smaller and less overwhelming environment, much more flexibility in scheduling (typically), easier to tailor the schedule/activities/etc to your kid since it's a smaller group.  With a share, it's easier than with an individual nanny to pay a living wage, and you get some social interaction built in (and nannies can take the kids they're caring for to the park or whatever for other interaction.)

    But they can be somewhat less reliable -- if the nanny gets sick, or has other responsibilities (like school age kids), you have less backup than in a daycare setting where typically there's a floating.  The full burden of screening etc is on you, though you can also work with an agency. Either you or the share partner needs to provide space, which can be tough if you work from home. Also more expensive of course. 

    Mainly I wouldn't get too deep in your head about what's optimal for development.  There are major considerations in terms of your family's well-being and logistical needs -- think about those first, and then see if you can find options you're happy with in the care style you're looking for.  

    The other caveat to my advice is that we looked into all this before the staffing/daycare crisis of the last 6 months, and I don't know how much the general daycare crisis has changed things.  Staffing is increasingly challenging for daycares, lots of covid exposure closures, etc etc.  

    We put our son in daycare when he was 4 months old and they were wonderful. It's so scary leaving them when they were that young but the daycare was incredible and his caregivers were like our Parent advisors (since we had no idea what we were doing :)

    Our daughter started daycare at 10.5 months. Our original plan was to send her when I was done with my maternity leave at 4 months, but the covid situation and my partner and I working from home more often delayed things. We found a great home daycare with a small class size and love it. Our daughter is extremely social and thrives in that environment. Echoing what others have said, the colds are more prevalent. My daughter is sick about once a month. I imagine when she starts kindergarten she won't be sick as often as a child who was never in the daycare environment.

    I think daycare or a nanny share are both great options, and it depends on what works best for the parents.  My baby started daycare at 5.5 months and has been thriving there (she's almost 11 months now).  I would imagine she'd also be happy in a nanny share.  Here are the things that went into my thought process:

    - my husband and I are both working from home and have a small house; we wanted our baby out of the house during work hours

    - I didn't want to have to be responsible for nanny payroll taxes or coordinating COVID expectations, schedules, etc with another family - daycare is easier logistically for us

    - I found a daycare very close to our house so it's very convenient 

    The downside of daycare is that my daughter has cold symptoms more often than not!  The frequent colds don't seem to both her, but do impact our social life on the weekends - hard to have playdates with mom friends whose babies stay at home with them or are in a nanny share and are therefore not exposed to the same germs

    I have two kids (3 yo, 9 months). The first started in small in home daycare around 7 months. She started mid-August and it wasn't until January that she really enjoyed herself there. It was a really stressful time, but I stuck with it thinking the socialization would be best for her. Eventually she came around and did enjoy it and is still best friends with one of the girls that was with her. My younger daughter started at the same place around 5 months. We thought starting sooner would help with some of the trouble we had with my older one. She hated it, she was miserable, we did half days to help her adjust, she cried the whole time and after a little over a month got kicked out. I was so apprehensive about getting a nanny: how to find someone we like, share or solo, taxes / under or over the table, the disruption of having someone else in my house. My daughter started with a nanny share in January and I LOVE it. My daughter is so happy. They go to the park everyday for hours, our nanny says there are two other kids at the park she plays with regularly in addition to the kid in our share. I'm sure this will expand as she gets older. In our old daycare, the kids stopped going to the park after covid. We had a worst case scenario, but I'm really happy with how things ended up. I loved the idea of daycare, and it really didn't work for my kid and our nanny share so far has been great. I guess, if you find a spot at a daycare you love give it a try but don't be afraid to try something else if its not working. 

    First off I would say there is no right answer, obviously you have to do what works for you and your family!

    Mom of three here. My older sons started daycare (this was in San Francisco at the time) at ages 4 months and 3 months. The daycare itself was big (100 kids) but the infant classes had a ratio of one teacher: 3 babies and we really loved it. Throughout daycare/preschool the teachers did so many fun things with them (art projects, music, reading, field trips to the Ferry Building, etc) and they were stimulated every day. These two boys are now in 1st grade, and entering K at Head-Royce.

    For my younger baby (age 9 months) she has mostly been with a nanny. She will start daycare at age 1 at Rockridge Montessori. I look forward to getting her out of the house, with other babies etc. and having more stimulation for her throughout the day. I do feel like around age 1-1.5 these toddlers become so active and it is nice for them to be in an environment with other toddlers. 

    The obvious advantages of a nanny are more personalized attention, possibly a more flexible schedule for you. But if a nanny is sick then it is tough on the parents. I am in a situation where I really cannot call in sick to work so daycare was better for me logistically because it is more reliable in that sense. However, you do have to be prepared for the colds/illnesses that can come with daycare. That eventually does taper off and the kids have a robust immune system!

    Good luck!

  • Hello,

    We are going to be first time parents (due date April 29) and we both work full time. We are planning to split the parental leaves between us two until our baby turns 6 months old and we will both be going back to work full time starting November 2021. We are having trouble navigating the whole daycare/ nanny situation. Even though we've put ourselves down on the waiting list for a bunch of daycares, there's no guarantee that we will be able to enroll our baby in one in November 2021. What do other parents usually do in this situation? Do you usually find a temporary nanny gig for the gap until a daycare spot is available? 

    Any advice will be greatly appreciated!


    If you haven’t already, you should consider in-home daycares. We sent both our children to an in-home daycare starting at 4 months old and they have stayed as they get older. I think they can be kind of hit or miss, and you have to do more actual visits since they tend not to have fancy websites, but we loved ours (Alarcon Family Daycare near Fruitvale, if that happens to be close to you). I find that I felt more comfortable with a smaller home-based daycare for my infants because I knew there were fewer kids and they would get more attention, and also because they’re a little more flexible on things like schedules and other issues that may arise. Daycare centers are a little more rigid in their policies. Plus our in-home daycare was a lot cheaper than any daycare centers we looked at, and easier to get into. 

    nanny share spots and sometimes daycare spots pop open randomly so in addition to being on a waitlist your best bet is probably to keep searching for a nanny share.  They tend to be more expensive but maybe you use it as a stop gap until a more cost effective option becomes available.

    Hi! Great question. When we had our first baby three years ago, we got him into a daycare right when I went back to work at four months post partum. Our little guy had other ideas. He cried all day at the daycare and after two months the daycare asked us to leave. We thought we couldn't afford a nanny but we were able to adjust our work hours so my husband could be home until 10am and I could be home by 4pm, and we found the most amazing nanny who our baby loved and we never looked back. The point of this story is just to say that you can try and plan... And also to expect some wrenches being thrown in your plans and being adaptable, just like everything with babies! Good luck!

    I think yes, people find a temporary nanny or nanny share situation if they are intending to enter a day care when a spot opens up. There are frequently situations where a nanny share will be looking to fill a spot temporarily, or nanny shares that are happy to add on another child for a while, as long as they know the context. Having been on the other end of this, sharing a nanny with a family that intended to move on to a day care without letting us know the timeline for their day care situation, I would be up front with your nanny and any other families you share with that you intend to move on as soon as it is an option. In my experience, it's more ethical to look for a share that is happy to add a kid than to go into a split with a family who is invested in a long-term relationship with both their nanny and their nanny share families, and then take off when your day care spot opens up. If you become a primary member in a nanny share, you can put the other family in a situation where they are responsible for the entire cost of the nanny while they try to replace you, which can take a few months, and the costs really add up. When we had to replace the family in our share that moved on to day care, we were careful to ask the new families we were interviewing if they were intending to move on to day care, and more than half actually were, so we were able to let people know we couldn't accommodate that, and ultimately find a better fit for our situation the second time around. Kudos to you for asking about this before committing to something. 👍

    I had a late April baby in 2016. At first I was informed that we were not being offered a spot for the Fall, and then eventually a spot opened up. I made do in the meantime with a part time temporary nanny and also looked into nanny shares. The childcare industry is in crisis right now due to Covid, and some centers are on the verge of closing. So this is not a great year to find daycare for an infant, which has always been tough. My advice would be to focus on finding another family to get into a nanny share arrangement.

    We gave up on daycare after only even making it onto one waitlist and went with a nanny share. Depending on the daycare provider, a nanny share is cheaper, the same or more expensive. Personally, I'm so glad we went with the nanny share. We found a great nanny (through BPN) and she has been flexible with us in a way that daycares could not have been. We hosted, so we also skipped out on having to handle packing him up and getting him ready in the morning. I found my nanny partner really early, and we started interviewing nannies about 2 months before we needed care, which I think is typical.

    This doesn't directly answer your child care question, but since you state that you two are planning to "split" your parental leave, I wanted to be sure you are fully informed of all of your rights.  I am not a lawyer, but I do work with families and try to keep up with leave and accommodation rights. As I understand it, in California, there are no longer any situations where two parents need to split their allotted leave; EACH parent is entitled to the full amount of leave as determined by their own employment situation and eligibility. I suggest you review all of your rights to paid and/or job-protected leave (as well as pregnancy and lactation accommodations).  There are a lot of different programs, and some may be "stacked" to maximize the time.  Many of these rights were expanded within the last year or so, and depending where your employer is located, you may have additional rights beyond state and federal. Every job situation is different, so not every regulation will apply, but it's worth understanding what you are ENTITLED TO so you can then decide what will work best for you.   A great resource, with clear hand-outs you can look at and share with your employer(s): 

    And this is a good summary:


    You should consider a nanny (if you can afford it) or nanny share (which is often in the same ballpark cost of infant care at a center). Day care for infants is fine but hard - rigid hours with the provider, lots of other kids so your child may get sick, sometimes hard to get personalized attention. If you can make it work try a nanny share. Start taking to other families in your neighborhood about nannies and shares - and look in the archives here for tips. 

    Hi, first of all, congratulations on your new baby! 
    I just had a baby last May 2020 and was in a similar situation as you. I was stressed out about the wait lists and not being able to tour because of the pandemic. We wanted the best care for our child (like any good parent), yet, a lot of daycares didn't allow us to tour their facility in person. Luckily, my partner and I were able to work opposite shifts in order to care for our daughter as long as we did and for that I am so grateful.
    We finally found an in home daycare (Kidsland) that we found to be flexible, friendly, affordable, and a good fit given their small class size. My daughter just started daycare last week at 10.5 months old and she's adjusting really well.
    It seems you are doing exactly what I did by contacting daycares/nannies about 6 months in advance. Sometimes it just takes a bit of time to find one that has spots available and is a good fit. Best of luck!

  • Hi-

    I am moving to Oakland at the end of March and I am trying to figure out if it is best to get a nanny or childcare center for my 10 month old. The rate of the nannies I have interviewed is $25-30 per hour, does this seem to be the average rate? I also found a daycare center but they have a capacity of 24 infants which seems a bit high to me, although their caregiver to infant ratio is 1:4. I will need childcare full time and being a first time mom I am really overwhelmed especially moving to a new area. Any recommendations on daycare centers or where to find nannies would be greatly appreciated. 

    thank you!

    We are in a similar situation with our 9-month old.  The nanny rates you mentioned seem reasonable for a nanny share, and I think it is typically a little cheaper if it is just one child.  Is the daycare center you mentioned Child's Play Wonderschool?  If so, we were told that they will not have any full time spaces available until December.  We were only able to find one daycare with an opening any time soon (Dimond Babies Nursery, Monique Fanney, dimondbabies [at], but we have decided to go with a nanny share instead. In general, it seems like there is way more demand for infant daycare than there are spots available.  There seem to be more options available once they hit 2 years.  Good luck!

    I only have experience with nannies and nanny shares, but I would agree that 24 infants seems like a lot for one daycare facility, although the child/caregiver ratio seems reasonable. Daycares can be extremely competitive just to get a spot in the Bay Area though, so if you're able to get a spot and it's more affordable, you'd be lucky to find an open spot with short notice. Re: nanny rates for a single child, $25-30/hour is pretty standard. I personally was able to find a nanny with a lower rate but she has only two years of experience as an au pair (although she's FAR better than the other two nannies I have experience). If you're looking for a nanny, I recommend posting on this site with exactly what you're looking for and also browsing other parents' and caregivers' posts with recommendations. You could also join the Facebook groups Berkeley Moms (covers all east bay) and Main Street Mamas: East Bay and posting about your needs there. MSM East Bay is how I found my first nanny share situation. Good luck!!!

    Thank you all for the great information! I appreciate all of your insight. We decided to hire a nanny full-time. We did check out Child’s Play Wonderschool and it did have a waitlist and we also weren’t sure if it was a good fit for our daughter. I am hoping the nanny works out for us!

  • Nanny share vs Day Care Center

    (6 replies)

    Hello all!

    I am about to become a first time mother in March. I have started looking into childcare now because I know things fill up and there may be waiting lists. My husband and I anticipate needing full time day care beginning in October when we both return to work full time. I have done some research on day care and know that it is going to be quite expensive. I have not yet been able to get a lot of information on the cost of Nanny shares in the area and how that works. 

    Do any of you parents out there have any advice or recommendations? Is a nanny share typically less expensive that a day care center. Are there any positives or negatives to each that I should know about?

    Thanks in advance!


    I am in the exact same boat as you.  My wife and I will have our baby in April and are looking for full time help in October.  We don't know what to do and what is preferable.  Most nanny shares are available right now.  I want to be prepared for October.  Maybe we can keep in touch about our findings.


    Hi, there are basically three options for you: a nanny or nanny share, a daycare center, or a home-based daycare. Nanny and daycare center will be similar in price (at least from my experience), Home-based daycares are cheaper. Home-based daycares seem very popular in the East Bay, Bananas can provide you with a list. They also host workshops on how to find childcare. For home-based daycares and daycare centers you want to look and register now. For nannys you can look now but it might be easier to do once the start date comes closer. I registered at a daycare center before my son was born, but it did not work out for me and I pulled him out after 3 days. The switch from being 1:1 with mom to a daycare center with  several other babies and 2 care givers was too much and stressful for us. So we found and joined a nanny share 2 weeks later. My preference is with nanny shares or home-based daycares that provide more individualized attention and attachment for your baby while exposing him/her to some kids as well. This is just my own experience and preference, others might feel differently and only you know what will work for you once you try it out. 

    You might consider taking the infant care class offered by BANANAS. My husband and I took it while I was still pregnant and it was super helpful. 

    There are certainly pros and cons to both (we've done both). The bigger obstacle to consider is that the number of young infant spots (younger than 18 months) at daycares is quite low -- they're required to hold to a 4:1 ratio (4 babies to 1 teacher). We ended up going with a nanny share for when I first went back to work simply because we couldn't find a spot at any nearby daycare. If you can find a spot at a place you like, great! But you might find that you have more flexibility with a nanny share until your child reaches the 18 month - 2 year range, when the number of available spots at local daycares and preschools opens up quite considerably. 

    The comparison of cost can also vary. Standalone daycare centers are often more expensive than small in-home daycares. Nanny share rates will likely fall somewhere in the middle. 

    Hope this helps!

    A nanny share is going to be more expensive than a day care almost all the time. For reference, I’ve had a child in a nanny share for almost two years with one other child. The nanny charges $25 per hour total, so $12.50 per hour per family. We employ our nanny on the books and follow all applicable laws, so we pay for overtime, taxes, sick leave, and workers comp insurance. Our total cost including all those items plus the fees we paid to a payroll service to handle tax reporting, and a holiday bonus to the nanny,  came to about $3300 per month average for 2018. That was for 9.5 hours per day, five days a week of care. Some people - actually many people, as far as I can tell - save money by employing their nannies illegally, ie, they pay cash and do not pay taxes or overtime or provide paid sick leave (required by law in CA), or secure workers comp insurance (which is a crime in CA). I would strongly encourage you, if you do hire a nanny, to do so legally both for the sake of being a good and humane person and employer, and to avoid serious legal consequences to yourself and the nanny should the IRS or the state find out. 

    Daycare rates vary but there are very few that will charge as high as $3300 per month, and you will generally get more hours of coverage. My first child was in a daycare from 2014-2015 and our monthly cost was around $1700. The hours were 7:00 to 5:30. That was a few years ago and it was one of the more affordable daycares I found so I would expect most daycares to be more expensive but it would still be quite a bit less than a nanny share. 

    As far as positives and negatives, a nanny share will give you more control over your child’s schedule and activities. Your child may get sick less often in a nanny share than in a daycare. A daycare will be more affordable and provide more coverage of hours daily. Nannies get sick and have emergencies and run late, whereas daycares are always open when they say they will be and provide more coverage throughout the year. I chose a nanny share for my second child because my first child was sick constantly from being in daycare, but it turns out my first child was just especially prone to illness the first three-ish years and my second has a heartier immune system so I probably could have put my second in daycare too and saved a lot of money. These are things you can’t predict so just make a decision based on your budget and other needs and remember that there is no such thing as perfect child care. Good luck!

    Following for responses, as I’m in the same boat!


    A 9 or 10 hour day full time daycare schedule seems to be running about $2100+ a month for an infant at a regular daycare in Berkeley, less at home daycares. Nanny share seems like it is cheaper or similar to the cost of daycare if you want fewer than 40 hours a week. If you want 40 hours a week (or maybe 45 or 50), daycare is most likely more cost effective. This article on BPN will probably be useful to you on nanny share pricing:

    I have a 9 month old who has been in a formal daycare for 3 months. The pros I see for daycare are it's out of my home (no messes, it's preserved as my own environment, better for working from home - this is a huge personal factor for me, as I often work from home; this can also be resolved by doing the nanny share at the other person's home), it's completely legal, more eyes on the kids, more structure, more activities and equipment to play on, extremely consistent and reliable, and no issues on firing/rehiring when a nanny situation goes sideways or the nanny moves/has a schedule change. The cons are: a lot of sickness at first - my baby went from no illness the first 6 months to about 1 or 1 1/2 illnesses per month since starting, with a very persistent runny nose a lot of the time now, generally louder more chaotic environment that is tougher to take naps in, probably less personal attention than she'd get with a nanny and also less opportunity for her to go to parks and get outside.

    Overall, I've been happy with doing daycare but I had that preference all along (mainly because I often work from home) so I tried to get into daycare early to avoid having to go the nanny route. I have friends who have loved/ do love their (shared and solo) nannies. Some of these people also had a nanny they had to fire because, for example, the nanny was very verbally harsh with the children. My only friend who has done both daycare and nanny says she prefers daycare, partly because it's more transactional for her. As with anything, a lot depends on the specifics of the situation.

    Good luck! Hope all goes well for you and your family.

Parent Reviews

Hi There,

I was in a similar position when on maternity leave and even had a spot in a daycare, but then they had to take the spot back because there was no longer a vacancy (a family ended up not moving away). We have a nanny share and are in love with our nanny. It’s definitely more money than we wanted to spend and decided we will reassess once our baby turns 1, but for now, we are dealing with the finances and are just happy with how well it has worked out and how much our baby loves his nanny. I know this doesn’t solve your problem, but wanted to say hang in there and a nanny share could be a temporary situation until you find something more long term. 

congrats on your little one!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Nanny vs. day care for 5-month-old 2-3 days/week

Nov 2009

Hi all, Soon I will be going back to work and I need to make childcare arrangments for 2-3 days/week. But I am not sure whether I should get a nanny or find a daycare center. So I am asking for suggestions for both great nannies and daycare centers near fremont. My baby will be 5 months old. All suggestions/information wanted. Thanks confused about daycare

Do a nanny if you can. It's more affordable for a nanny share, and for me at least, offers more piece of mind. My daughter is in a nanny share--ever since she was 3.5 months old, and she enjoys playing with the other kids. Plus I know that she is getting more personalized attention than a daycare setting. Not to mention the reduced likelihood of her getting sick as she is exposed to less people. Nanny share works best for us

The biggest difference between a nanny and daycare is that daycare cares for your baby, whereas a nanny cares for the whole family. If you have a job that has unpredictable hours especially, go for the nanny, so you don't stress every day about being there in time for pick up. A nanny will also help out with household chores such as laundry, shopping, prepping dinner, maybe light cleaning - all negotiable. I also liked that my kids were playing with their own toys, reading the books that I picked for them, etc. If you can afford it, go for a nanny. Love my nanny

My son is now 2.5 and happy in his 24 kid pre-school. But when I went back to work around the same time as you and I had the same difficult decision to make. At the time my thinking was that a daycare center was best because the caregivers would be watching each other, hence less chance of anything going wrong. I was uncomfortable putting all of my faith in one person, a nanny. In retrospect, I think I was wrong to be so mistrustful and wish I had committed myself to finding a really good nanny share or very small home-daycare. I don't think that most kids are ready for a large group setting until at least 2 years old, or even 2.5. just my opinion.... best of luck! working mama with sensitive kid

We have a 4 1/2 month old and just decided on a nanny. We felt that less exposure to sickness in the first months is important. Also, this si a great time to be looking for a nanny. There are many who are looking for work and it is possible to negotiate a very reasonable rate. If you have a kid that naps, some nannies are also willing to help around the house. cleaning, dishes, laundry, occasional meal prep. 1 week into the situation and we love the extra help that we wouldn't have gotten in a daycare. Makes going back to work much more manageable. To find the nannies, call Bananas in Oakland and see if they can give you some referals. You'll just have to talk with a bunch of them to see who you are comfortable with. loving our nanny

I didn't see the original post, but I noticed that all the responses recommended nannies over daycares, and I wanted to put in a plug for daycare. Our son started at a home-based daycare when he was 4 months old (and our daughter would have gone there if I hadn't gotten laid off), and we loved it. He went there until he started preschool at 2 1/2, and it was great for him to get the interaction with multiple adults as well as a bunch of other kids. It was a relatively small place (3 adults, 8-12 kids on any given day), and I don't know that I would have been as comfortable with a large center, but I liked having him exposed to more people - kids and adults - than a single nanny (and maybe one or two other kids in a nanny-share). I also liked having him get used to being in a different place than our house - it's made it easier to transition him to preschool and to use childcare in other settings. (And it meant that when I was sick, I could send him to daycare and sleep/read/watch TV all day - a big plus in my book!) And it was a LOT cheaper than a nanny would have been. To be honest, we might have looked into getting a nanny if we could have afforded it, but I'm glad we couldn't! If you're more comfortable with a nanny and can afford it, great, but if you find the right daycare setting, it can be just as good an environment for a baby. Jennifer

I missed the original post on this topic but wanted to respond when I saw all 4 responses recommended a nanny over daycare. This is a very personal decision for every family, but I strongly believe that both options can be good ones, and that daycare can be the better choice.

My husband and I chose a high-quality daycare (BlueSkies for Children, which I strongly recommend) over a nanny for the following reasons:

- Our daycare is structured to be developmentally appropriate for children as they grow. The environment is safe, the toys are appropriate, and the activities are geared towards the needs of the children. There is no TV, no personal phone conversations, no exersaucers, no bouncers, no sitting in strollers -- infants are free to move and explore.

- The teachers at our day care have far more experience, education, and supervision than most nannies would.

- I agree with the poster that said infants are too young for ''group settings,'' if group setting means coordinated play or instruction. But infants and young toddlers who are free to explore and move about on their own are perfectly content to ignore the other babies. They bond with their caregivers and do their own thing. Sometimes they watch and interact with other kids, sometimes they don't. Well-run infant (and preschool!) programs do not force group activities on those not developmentally able to partcipate; they allow the babies the space to be babies. It just happens that there are other babies next to them doing the same thing.

- I personally am uncomfortable with not paying social security for or providing health care to someone as important to my family as a primary caregiver. By using a quality daycare center, I know our caregivers have sick leave, vacation time, health care, and even some retirement benefits.

- While this is not universally true, I have found that my daycare does help take care of my whole family. Our daycare provides homemade food and cloth diapers, so I don't have to worry about those things. The teachers and co-directors are a knowledgable resource for parenting questions. This doesn't help with home chores, as (some, not all) nannies might -- but it does provide a great deal of relief.

- I have never worried about either of my children, even once, while they were at our daycare. For me, this piece of mind is priceless. Good luck with your decision. Happy Daycare Parent

I was surprised to read that most of the previous responses advised that nanny shares were the way to go.

I wanted to give a slightly different perspective. There are both wonderful and not so great nannies just as there are wonderful and not so wonderful daycare centers. Pros and cons exist for both options. Nannies are the most expensive and offer most flexibility. But if your nanny is sick or is on vacation or needs to go to the doctor (which you will need to provide) you have to have a back up. Some nannies are amazing, others not so. We interviewed a few that I would not leave my kid with. You have to rely on your gut and references.

On th other hand, daycares employ licensed professionals, many of whom have training in child development. The benefits are that you aren't left in the lurch ever and your kid gets some good socialization, but of course the schedule is more rigid and your baby is more likely to catch a cold.

I think that the current economy helps you find a better nanny or a daycare situation but maybe not for less $. While it is a ''mommy's market'' in terms of the number of nannies looking for employment, I'm not sure you want to negotiate for the cheapest nanny you can find. The dilemma with nannies is that its a lot of money for the parents but still not that much for the nanny. Similarly, daycares that formerly had long waiting lists now have spots, but I'm not sure they cost much less.

Many default to a nanny or nanny share out of guilt or equating that the most expensive option must be the best. I say explore both options and make a decision that works for you.

Good luck with the process - it is hard, but you will find a situation that works for you and your baby. Been there recently...

Given the lopsided responses you got to your question, I just wanted to put in a good word for daycare. We put our son in a wonderful day care center (in San Francisco) when he was 4 1/2 months old. Yes, it was hard to leave him, but it would have been hard no matter what. Yes, he got sick a lot the first year. But there are many studies that show that ALL kids get these illnesses, it's just a matter of what age they are when they get them. It was tough but we got through it and so far (knock on wood), we're having a much easier time of it in the last few months. More importantly, I'm thrilled with the care that he gets at the center -- his teachers are loving, warm, and fun. They know him as an individual and really respect his needs. They do amazing fun activities that I'd never be able to pull off at home (and doubt a nanny could either), like making a huge batch of spaghetti and letting the kids roll around in it; or letting them smear their entire bodies with pudding. And the chef at the center makes amazing meals, lots of variety and healthy options, helping our son become a MUCH better eater than many of his peers. I also feel that the socialization he gets at day care really shows. If you find the right center, you can have a wonderful experience with day care, so don't write it off. Happy we went with day care

Nanny vs Nanny share vs Daycare for 11-week-old

Jan 2008

My daughter is 11 weeks old and I am returning to work. I'm wondering if anyone has advice about whether I should hire a nanny, do a nanny share with another family, or send her to family day care center (run out of a private home.) I would love any advice on the pros and cons of each approach. We like the social aspect of day care, but wonder if our daughter needs more attention than a day care could provide. Cost is somewhat of an issue for us, even sharing a nanny, the cost seems to be 1.5-2 times the cost of family day care center. I appreciate your advice! Mom returning to work

Hi- Being that your daughter is so young, she is not in need of socialization yet. That is not a factor till 9-12 mos. For the first months of a child's life, providing individual attention is the absolute best thing you can do for her. If you can afford a nanny or nanny share, do it!! Bite the bullet financially and experience long-term rewards of building security in her, and helping her to feel her needs are met by being responded to. After she turns a year old, you can feel fine about switching to good daycare. early childhood educator

Congrats on your new daughter. Ultimately what matters most is whether the specific childcare situation (nanny, nanny share, or daycare center) feels right for you and your family. But you knew that already. That said, having tried all of these options with my kids, here is my view on pros and cons.

  PROS OF A NANNY - Can give your kid the most attention (1-on-1) - Schedule flexibility (i.e., if you have a good relationship with your nanny you might be able to ask her to stay late one night, work an extra day, etc. - always helpful to a working parent) - Caregiving style flexibility (i.e., you can ask your nanny to follow your own particular childcare preferences, which a day care center might not be able to accommodate) - Usually in your own home (no dropoffs/pickups/packing lunches, etc.) - Sometimes you can ask a nanny to help out around the house (e.g., laundry), although you might have to pay more for this.  CONS OF A NANNY - Most expensive option - Even the most experienced nanny will have less experience than an established daycare center, which sees *lots* of kids over a year, so may not know what to do with your child's unique challenge - Less secure - can quit at any time (and they do, believe me) - You know less about them than a licensed day care center, which does through extensive background checks and gov't inspections  PROS OF A NANNY SHARE - Less expensive than a nanny obviously, while still getting a low child ratio - May still be at your own home, at least some of the time  CONS OF A NANNY SHARE - Add'l logistical difficulties of the other family's schedule -  will you take vacations at the same time? What if they need the nanny to come earlier than you? etc. etc. - Add'l relationship difficulties of the other family - what if they turn out to have different childcare philosophies than you? What if your house is not clean enough in their view? What if one of the 2 babies is easier to take care of than the other? - All the same cons of a nanny apply here, too, especially the insecurity component  PROS OF A DAYCARE CENTER - Security/stability - this is a biggie. They are not going anywhere! You can count on childcare for your child, rain or shine. You don't have to wonder each morning if the nanny will actually show up! - Licensing. Again, the gov't checks things out, and the caregivers, too. - Least expensive option (usually). - Socialization for the kids - but, importantly, this does not really come into play until late in the first year of life. An 11-week-old needs responsive caregiving, not socialization with other kids.  CONS OF A DAYCARE CENTER - Not in your home obviously, so you have to dropoff/pickup each day. - Less flexibility to change a small issue you're not happy with. - More kids per teacher - especially challenging for infants. 

My two-cents: Try to keep the ratio as close to one-on-one as you can afford until the child is two. Social doesn't matter at this young age(the don't start playing interactively until three-ish anyway). Little ones prefer social contact with adults until after age two.

I work at a daycare and think that the environment is WAY to noisy, overstimulating, etc for the really little ones. The center (mixed ages 3-months to five years) is all that some parents can afford and I do my best to provide the same SAHM experience that I provided for my own children. I genuinely love the children in my care. But, I would never have sent my own children there. -like the lowest ratio possible

The bottom line? You have to look at your budget and lifestyle and decide what's right for you. But I can almost guarantee that the childcare choice you make now will not be the last choice you make. Every time I thought I was done finding childcare for one of my kids something would happen and we would have to try something new.

Also, I would reiterate that responsive caregiving and a low child-to-teacher ratio is absolutely the most important thing for a baby your daughter's age. Better to find a childcare arrangment that meets that need now, and worry about socializing her later.

I would put in a plug for small home daycare centers that take infants, if you can find them. There are good people out there who will take 2-4 little ones in their home (some of them unlicensed), and that can be a really good option. When I went back to work I underestimated how much it matters not only to have a good childcare arrangment, but also a secure one. Nannies are not secure. Just when you think that everyone is happy, something in her life will change (a spouse's new job, a decision to go back to school), and the nanny will leave. Nannying is not something that people expect to do on a long- term basis; most see it as transitory employment. And it was a major, unexpected source of stress for me to have nannies for my kids when I was never quite sure how far ahead I could plan my work life, how long they were going to stay, whether they would show up on Monday morning after a hard week with my kids previously, and so on. If the nanny said something in the morning that made me worry if she was really happy in her job, I would not be able to relax at work for the whole day.

If I have another baby, I'm going to look *first* into small daycares the next time around, before going the nanny route. But that's just my 2 cents. Good luck with your search! Childcare veteran

hi. i have two kids - 2.5 yrs and 1 yr. i did daycare with my first and it wasn't good. the napping situation isn't healthy for the most part. a family daycare might be better if they have enough space for kids to take good naps and are able to attend to them.

the nanny share we switched to was awesome. they go to the park, get good social interaction with other children, and get a lot of personal attention. i paid 9/hr for the share. now i have a ''share'' out of my home (my kids with their own nanny). and that, again, is a great situation. they are getting socialized and get a ton of personal attention(16/hr). when my son goes to preschool i am going to get a share partner for my daughter. they really learn a lot from that type of interaction.

i think the most important thing at that age (up to about 2yrs) is a loving caregiver with attention for them. they need a ''mom'' around to give affection and get a little social learning. beyond that (in terms of learning) i don't really think they need much. anon

All of these options are viable and can have good results. I have been a nanny for just one family as well as multiple families. I admit, when I'm with just one child, that child gets way more intense focus than when shared with other children. Personally (must be my temperament), I prefer the closeness and great rapport we develop when I'm just with one, but I can also successfully care for multiple children, making sure each feels loved and gets attention. But all throughout the day on clingy days or days when an issue is up, I have to alternate holding each child (sometimes I hold two at a time, but just for short periods). They sometimes feel jealous that the other one is being held, but I re-assure them that I love them and we do our best.

You need to understand that the more children there are, the more the caregiver's individual focus is dissipated - if you ever have a second child, you will see what I mean in your own household. This is not to scare you into paying more than you can afford and getting a nanny, when you budget really calls for a daycare.

Don't kid yourself about the socialization - that doesn't really matter until about 22 months, but having other kids around isn't a detriment either. There are some wonderful home daycares out there.

If you go for a home daycare, just make sure there aren't too many infants there (I would want 2 infants max with one provider). Let your heart and gut instinct guide you as to providers. What is most important is someone who will shower your baby with love, and make her feel secure during her daytime hours. You may luck out and get a woman with older children who really misses babies, and then it's like having a dedicated nanny for part of the day. Good Luck.

Go w/ what feels good! Even a large daycare can be terrific. I had one fabulous nanny (enthusiastic, energetic, loving, kept me abreast of everything), & when she moved, had a nanny share that turned into a nightmare: she lied to me on several occasions, denied it, I confronted her w/evidence, justified it because she believed she was a better caretaker than me! I had thought family day care would be perfect, but every one I saw left infants unattended in exersaucers for hours at a time, some were filthy, & none actually had enough help to provide real one- on-one care (the other families seemed happy, & I know some family daycares are fine). I finally settled on a rather large daycare (16 infants, in theory, though in practice they weren't all there at once), which went against my perceptions of what was best (and the fired nanny warned me my child would be permanently damaged), but in fact it was perfect for us at the time. No worries about lying caretakers, I knew the annual schedule (2 wks off per year), teachers were treated well (turnover was low), & my child got PLENTY of one-on-one & thrived w/ the other kids. The dire threats of catching every virus never materialized. I got detailed daily reports of food, naps, diaper changes. The facility was clean, & the babies' schedule was according to their own needs (didn't have to conform to the older kids or the caretaker's needs). I could (and did) pop in unannounced to check, and no one was offended or surprised by it. It IS important for infants to have one-on- one. At a daycare, make sure you understand & are comfortable w/ policies/schedules & teachers, and for a family daycare/nanny/share, make sure you are compatible w/ the personalities as well as schedules. (You don't have to love EVERY teacher at a daycare). In all cases, make sure your questions are answered and concerns are addressed. PS. You & your child will survive...

I would second those who suggested you go with what feels good, adding that you should also go with what works with your budget/schedule, etc. My 2-year old was in a daycare center beginning at 6 months, and loved each of the 3 main caretakers there, and he was held a lot and given lots of attention even though there were other little ones (not all infants, some toddling around). I think there is a perception that a nanny/nanny share is best for the littlest ones, but although a nanny is the most expensive option, I don't agree that it produces any superior results and studies don't support this perception anyway -- in many cultures children get attached to multiples family members/care providers and they can here too if the setting is right for your little one. He's now in a home-based preschool (also costs a lot less than larger, more formal preschools) and is absolutely thriving with a 1:6 ratio (though sometimes it's much less than that) and lots of personal attention, art, music, etc. For me it was most important that he be in a warm, loving, atmosphere with lots of stimulation and that can be found in many places...good luck to you! anonymous

Hello, I would definitely make a stretch for the nanny option. And do your research. Interview, interview, interview and like the person you hire. Accept that a nanny would never do the job as lovingly and deliberately that you could do as a mother. A nanny will not respond to every one of your child's needs on an intuitive level like you yourself would, but you need to trust their efforts to the nth degree. In the nanny business, you get what you pay for. I have certainly witnessed bad nannying at the park, around town. Remember, it is your child in his or her formative years! Consider options such as working part time or evenings when your husband returns home from work. Anon

Nanny vs. day care for 9 month old a few hours a week

March 2006

I'm a first time mom of a 9 month old and am needing a few more hours of childcare. Currently I need four hours and will likely need four more on a different day in the next few months to half year. I'm not sure whether to go for a nanny or a day care. I worry that a nanny who only has so few hours may leave if she finds more/better work and having a good, consistent caregiver is very important to me. I'd be willing to pay for a full day of daycare and not use all the hours. THe one day care I've called has a minimum of three full days required, which doesn't make sense for us right now. I think my daughter would enjoy being with other kids. On the flip side, I worry about the many cold etc... My mom has been taking care of her for about 10+ hours a week, but can't do anymore. I know that part of my hedging has to do with being nervous about entrusting strangers to care for my baby. My daughter is not sleep trained as we do not subscribe to this method of childrearing. I worry that this might be a problem, especially at a day care, but also with a nanny. Any suggestions, experiences, recommendations, words of wisdom etc would be greatly appreciated. anon

I'd try going with the nanny route...only because of the developmental stage that your child is in. Right now at 9 months she is pretty egocentric and although it might be great to you that your daughter be around other children she does not really care right now one way or another. She is, in her mind, the center of the universe. The sleep situation, although, it is crucial that she get her sleep (and you get yours and take a break once in a while too). A nanny can better assist in that department than say a daycare. As far as the colds...she needs to build her immunity and become a strong child and if she is not at a daycare she will get those germs elsewhere. It is your decision. There are pros and cons to each. Good luck! anon

Nanny vs Day Care for 3-mo-old twins

June 2003

Greetings, My wife and I are expecting twins any day now, and we have been have difficulty finding a nanny to look after the boys, especially when we are both working (around Sept 1st.) We both really want to spend as much time with them and desperately want in home care, but with each interview, we get more frustrated. My question is, should we give up trying to find a nanny and bite the bullet and look for day care? Additionally, they will be about 3 months when my wife goes back to work, do any centers out there take infants that young? Oh yeah.... we live in Hercules. Thanks, Joel

I'd keep trying on the nanny front. First of all,it's early to be looking -- 4-6 weeks before start date there may well be more people available. Secondly, in my experience I have sometimes had to interview 10 or more nannies to find one good one. You'll know the right one when she comes along. Infant care if available but likely more expensive, more demanding on you and the babies, and might entail very long waiting lists. Best of luck! Sabrina

Both of my children have been attending a high-quality daycare center (AOCS in Oakland) since they were 3 months old. (They're now 4 1/2 and 21 months.) It's been nothing but a positive experience. From day one, my kids have been treated with love and respect by caregivers with years and years of experience as well as considerable education and training in child development. With a high-quality daycare, you get a licensed facility that must meet or exceed state requirements, a kid- friendly environment, trained professionals as well as great parent resources (experts to talk to and instant friends for your kids and you, to name a few!). Research carefully - they're not all great, and the great ones have long waiting lists. Bananas is a great resource, and a tour of AOCS will give you an idea of things to look for in a childcare center. happy working mom

Have you contacted Bananas yet? I highly recommend their seminar ''How to Choose Childcare''. If you can't make the seminar, give them a call anyway. They are a fantastic resource, even if you live in Hercules, and can offer more specific advice relevant to the cause of your frustrations. 510 658 7353 Ellen

You didn't mention why that you've found that ''with each interview, we get more frustrated.'' What is frustrating ? Why are you having difficulty ? Without knowing this, it is difficult to give advice on whether or not you should give up looking or not. Although daycare can be fine for infants, in- home care is a most wonderful thing for brand new parents; I don't have twins, but I imagine that not having to get two babies out the door at a specific time in the morning would be a godsend. It took me literally hours to get me and my up-to-6- month-old singleton out the door (I'm sure you don't believe this now; but I used to be one of the world's most on time and efficient people, so trust me on this). I can't imagine what two would be like ! So, do not underestimate how important it may be to have someone come to your door in the morning and ''rescue'' you in those first 6 months ! It would also be worth it to hire someone and go through a trial period before September when you absolutely need them (as you are trying to do); I wish I had known that before I gave birth; you will need help more than you think you will, at least that was true for me with even just one child. Especially given that you have twins and will likely want someone experienced to care for infant twins, you may want to call Mom's Away nanny agency, who found our terrific nanny for us. It's a bit expensive but in the long run their fee is more than worth it, and they also have the most fair payment policy of any of the Bay Area agencies I checked out. Since you are frustrated and having difficulty, using a professional nanny finder could give you the peace of mind -- and the nanny -- you are looking for. kb

After reading the previous responses, I wanted to respond as a mom of twins (who are now 4 y.o.). Please continue your search for care in your home. Personal attention that is loving and individual is so important to a baby's development. I believe a licensed facility can have up to 4 infants per one adult. That just doesn't leave any time for play after all the care duties. Plus, for your sakes, it is so helpful to have someone who can also at least fold some baby laundry or wash bottles during the day. Every little bit helps. Another aspect of group care is the exposure to colds. Keeping your babies home will keep them healthier their first year - extremely important if the babies come early!

Have you joined the local twins club (maybe Twins by the Bay)? Maybe someone there has a nanny that only wants to work with infants and is ready to move on to another family. There's also a pretty active mom's club in Pleasant Hill that may be a good contact, I can't remember the name. I think the best sources are word of mouth. 2 1/2 years ago, Bananas didn't want to talk to me as I wasn't in their county, and the Contra Costa Childcare Council didn't have updated listings for local childcare - and only a couple nanny references. Best wishes, Lori

Nanny vs. Daycare for Half Days for 5 month old

Oct 2001

I'm planning on going back to school on January, I'll be studying 5 days a week 8-12. I'm not sure whether I want a daycare or a nanny for my baby (he'll be 5 months on Jan.)and would like to hear opinions about both the possibilities. I heard that if I want a daycare I should start looking now - any recommendation? thank you sharon 

I don't know many daycares that will take a baby for less than full-time (even if you take them home for 1/2 the day, you will still pay for the full week, I believe)... but the main gist of your question is which you should choose. Only you know that answer; I was much happier with a daycare center for my 4.5-month-old than an in-home daycare or nanny. But to help you make that decision, BANANAS in Oakland (658-0381; let it ring FOREVER) periodically holds seminars on deciding which kind of childcare to choose. Oh, also, many daycares have long waiting lists, so if there are some you're possibly interested in, get on the waiting list *now*, even if you're not sure you want to choose that one. Good luck! Jennie

Nanny at home or daycare for 4-month-old?

Nov 1999

I'll be going back to work in January and will need full-time or close to full-time care for my son, who will be 4 months old. My husband & I are thinking about having a babysitter at home for the first year and then switching to family day care, but we don't feel like we have enough info to really make a good decision, particularly about any benefits there may be to being around other kids at that age. I'd appreciate any advice or thoughts people might have on this issue. Thanks!

I would suggest going to Bananas (childcare referral service and so much more!) on Claremont near Telegraph and talking to someone there as well as picking up some of their handouts on these topics.

We didn't really have much option of choosing between a family-style daycare and a nanny - a nanny is simply beyond our means. But we have been pretty satisfied with the home daycare situations we've found. Our son likes the interaction with other kids, and the variety of activity, and he really enjoys his days there. You do need to shop around though - all daycare providers are not equally good, nor are their facilities or prices. Also, a provider who is great with infants may not be the best with active toddlers, so you need to be alert for problems once your kid starts to run around (as I found out a bit belatedly). On the downside, the first six months he went to daycare were essentially one nonstop cold for us and him, but his immune system is now top-notch and he seldom gets sick. In short, I think both options have their plusses and minuses.

I took care of my baby son for 8.5 months before considering daycare, and this is why we started it (sort of long, but I hope you go ahead and read it, it's probably pretty typical in a general way, YMMV):

1. Home with Baby Mornings were fine, and the baby was happy being in the house and with whatever I could come up with for him to do -- swinging, singing (especially songs with gestures), dancing, reading, making faces, playing with toys, playing with a Gymini, playing on an exersaucer, The Bouncy Chair (not a jumper, the vibrating bouncing reclining thing Fisher-Price sells to soothe babies), and breastfeeding every couple of hours. By the time he was 8 weeks old, I was taking him (at first in a Snugli, later in a stroller, then a jog stroller, and sometimes a backpack) for a daily walk of a few miles R/T on any one of a number of paths in the ridgetop complex of parks. The exercise was good for me, and I had discovered that he sleeps MUCH better at night if he has at least an hour's worth of exposure to fresh air. Gradually his own routine, his natural timing of eating and napping, emerged. And also, he became restive in the afternoons, would react very positively when we went out after he awoke from the morning/noon nap, and basically indicated in a variety of ways that he wanted to see some new people, not only Mom all day. The walks on the trails, by the way, were NOT fulfilling his need for social interaction with other-than-mom people, but they did have the positive effect of exposing him to DOGGIES -- he _loves_ dogs :-)

2. Baby Bored? Kindermusik helped... a bit... So in the afternoons we would run errands, go to the tot lots and play, get Mommy a coffee at Peet's, and hit the ridges for a walk. That was good as far as it went. Eventually, all of this seemed to be a bit too familiar to him, and I started him in Kindermusik at about 6.5 months. He loved it! The only drawback was that it was only one day a week. He would look forward to that day, to seeing the other babies, to the play and music and a number of people doing the same things, and he would love to hear the CD when we were riding in the car. At playgrounds, he lean toward other children, from sessile (?!) babies to those old enough to stand, and try to touch them, to explore and make contact. He's a beautiful boy, and has a sweet personality, so this was not a problem, but it struck me that basically, he was lonely, especially for children near his own age.

3. Effects of isolation(?) on mood and development rate... self-weaning... In the rainy season if we couldn't go out, he would be fussy (the angry-tone rather than sad-tone cry) at trifles he'd usually have ignored. He also seemed to me to be very slow in developing the crawling skill. He has a large head, so I wasn't too surprised initially; the pediatrician told me large-headed babies don't have strong enough neck muscles for head-up crawling and they will usually take longer to get to that stage. He also had a cold, which slowed him down a bit, and during the cold he had weaned himself (at about 8 months), since the bottles I use (Playtex Avance) are MUCH easier to get milk from than breasts (at least mine) if you have a stuffy nose for two weeks. But I worried a bit when he still couldn't get more than a couple of wiggles' worth of crawling in at 8 months and a week. He seemed to be unwilling to take any hints about getting his bent knees under him (an endearing stubborn streak -- he will refuse to pay any attention to anything you show him, but then if you go do something else across the room, he will eventually try your suggestion and then at the next opportunity will show you this wonderful new method he came up with).

4. Daycare in Someone Else's Home I began to look into daycare, stumbled into a very nice one (max of four children, stepped in ages above and below my son's age) right off, and during the visit to it, my son was watching the little boy, a month older than himself, crawl around as though jet-propelled. By the end of the visit (30 min on a Friday afternoon), my son was crawling five feet at a time (!), and he became totally fluent in the new crawling thing over the next two days (a weekend he spent with us in the usual way). They also, because they have babies all the time, can justify the expense of toys and soft climbing structures, a pool of balls, etc.

We decided to go for the daycare, half-days. His improvement in coordination and mobility continued, and he was delighted to BE there -- excited about arrving each day -- but happy to see me when I'd pick him up at 1 pm. Finally, when he was 11 months old, he started objecting to half-days; he was having too much fun to want to leave. Coincidentally, the daycare provider informed me that they really needed a full-time baby in that slot, so that we would have to start full-time the following month (which they really hoped we would do, as they like our son and he gets along very well with the other children) or find another situation. We discussed it and went for the full-time involvement.

5. Visitation Rights: A Very Good Idea The idea was that if I got a bigger job than the P/T evening one I'd been doing (leaving dada with baby for male bonding and play), we could afford it, and he was happiest and learning the most by being with the other children and exposed to a different environment. He's 13 months now, and I still have pangs of missing him in the afternoons! But I will soon be working very close to his daycare, and they are very open to visits by parents at any time during normal business hours (it's in the contract). I also think that this policy is some kind of licensing requirement now -- it's a good idea, as it avoids setting up conditions which historically have accompanied abuse cases (especially physical privacy, and lengthy separation from the parent). Bananas also recommends asking about access to your child during daycare -- restrictions on this should make alarm bells go off for you, unless there is a very obvious good reason for a specific restriction. The parents of the youngest child in my son's daycare spend every lunch hour with him, and the mother of the oldest boy drops in randomly during the day. My husband and I were thinking the once I am working P/T nearby, we could start regular lunch visits, and that I could even take him for an hour in the park if his naptime wasn't meshing well with the other children's.

6. Naps, Timing, and the Importance of Being Outside This is the latest thing -- my son (not yet talking) seems to want to sleep on his own schedule and simply won't nap if it's not the right time, with which I utterly sympathize. I do understand that the daycare provider has to try to coordinate FOUR sleep schedules in order to actually get any group outdoor time for the children, but this is one area in which it's not really feasible to be regimented -- he'll just stay awake until exhaustion drops him -- we are trying to come up with a good way of resolving this afternoon-nap timing mismatch). I would recommend for this reason that if you go with a small daycare provider, you find a place that already has all of its physical improvements completed -- our provider was making noises about clearing out the back yard for a play area when we signed on, five months ago, and this hasn't even started, although winter is now approaching. So their only option for real outdoor time is to do it en masse in the outing-stroller (cute cart for four), which requires synchronized napping.

7. The Joy of Fingerpaints He has started being interested in crayons and drawing little wavery lines in different colors, and he loves fingerpaints -- even on the paper, although better still on his face, and in his mouth, apparently -- good thing they're non-toxic. Does anyone (who's read this far!! :-)) have any recommendations on what to mix into them to make them un-tasty to toddlers but not dangerous to eyesight?

Good luck with your son's solution. I hope our experience helps you in your weighing of options. It felt like a long time from the front end, but the last two years (pregnancy too) have gone by in a WHOOSH!!! I can still feel the breeze. That's one reason I favor part-time daycare; I want more moments of my son's babyhood to be with me, and to stay in my memory. I understand why some mothers become baby addicts! Thanks for listening :-)

I placed my son in a daycare center when he was six months old. At the time I was very nervous, felt guilty that I wasn't there for him, etc. But in hind sight, I think putting him in this particular day care was the best thing for his development. The day care takes children 3 months to 3 years. There is a room for year so that children of the same age are together, although there is a lot of intermingling between the age groups. The big kids love to play with the babies and the babies love watching the big kids. My son has learned so much from having to interact and share with other kids. For example, he know that when another baby is playing with a toy, it is not his turn. And vice versa. The other thing I noticed is that he learned certain words and behavior from other kids. While some of the behavior was not exactly desirable, I found that the way the teachers help them learn what is appropriate and not appropriate very effective in helping him understand that the world is not centered on him alone. In other words, he is learning that he has to be conscious and aware of others. This, I believe, is an invaluable lesson!!! and I don't think he would learn it as quickly if he were the only child being taken care of.

When he first started, there was a transition period. But once he was oriented, he learned to love certain kids and we have a couple of kids we get together with on a routine basis for play time. This way he develops friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime. He also looks forward to our going to school routine. He even gets frustrated with me when I don't move fast enough to get out of the house in the morning.

I recommend a day care situation where your baby can interact with other kids.