Deciding what type of daycare is best for your child can take time and effort.

A parent only wants the most ideal situation for their children and family. So, there is no shame in being stuck between putting a child in daycare or creating a similar learning environment at home. In fact, many parents often struggle with determining which route to take.

At the end of January, news anchor Cleo Green shared an Instagram video about her experience figuring out childcare for her son. In the video, she expressed how she found a daycare center. However, it was difficult for her and her son to part ways from each other as she dropped him off for his first day of center-based care. As a result, she reverted back to in-home daycare.

Green’s story is similar to those of other moms and parents who struggle to decide which direction to take for their family.

What Is The Difference Between Center-Based and In-Home Daycare?

The distinct separation between these two types of daycare is the setting. A center-based environment takes place in the traditional daycare or preschool setting. Attending a center-based program occurs outside of the family home. Parents can find playgrounds, classrooms, groups of children, teachers and other resources at daycare centers.

In-home daycare, such as a nanny, is based on the family’s needs and schedule. Nannies are more convenient for the household than daycare centers. Parents do not have to worry about daycare schedules or coordinating pick-up times and drop-offs. A nanny fits into a family’s day-to-day routine. This allows for more flexibility and room for a nanny to adjust to changes throughout the day. Nannies are beneficial for staying on track with essential activities such as meal time, nap schedules and more. 

What Are the Benefits and Disadvantages of Center-Based Daycare?

It is important to note that whichever route parents take, both experiences differ. One benefit of center-based daycare centers is that they allow children to socialize with other kids who are around or the same age. Socializing with their peers contributes to their social development. As children interact with different types of kids, they learn to build relationships and foster friendships early. As a result, children’s communication skills, ability to work with others, confidence and other life skills will improve.

One drawback of center-based daycares is the cost of attendance. Although prices vary, data estimates from 2022 show that the average price of preschool center-based daycare for one child can range from roughly $6,000 to more than $10,000. Additionally, daycare centers have more children than teachers present, which limits personalized care.

What Are The Benefits and Disadvantages of In-Home Daycare?

A benefit of a nanny is the ability to provide individual attention and care. Due to the private setting, a child’s needs can be met more effectively than in a setting filled with other children. A child and their caregiver have the chance to form a deeper bond through a personalized experience.

Another advantage of in-home daycare is that it limits the exposure to germs from other children. Because the child remains in a secluded environment, the likelihood of catching a cold or any other illness is reduced. In addition to being a caregiver, a nanny may also help with chores such as laundry, washing dishes and keeping the home tidy if indicated in the contract.

However, children lose those social interactions with other kids because of the smaller, more private environment. This can impact their social and developmental skills due to the limited interaction with their peers. For parents, hiring a nanny can be a laborious and extensive process. After conducting background checks and several interviews, finding the right person for the household can take weeks or even months.

Is center-based or in-home daycare better?

It depends on the preferences of the parents or guardians. If finances are a deciding factor, daycare centers can be pricey but less expensive than hiring a nanny. The average weekly cost in 2024 to hire a nanny is $766, versus a daycare center’s $321.

Both are viable options that contribute to a child’s growth and development in different ways. The child’s and parents’ needs can help influence the decision-making when weighing which option fits better.