Daycare vs nanny. Pointers on how to choose either
September 11, 2018 5:22 PM   Subscribe

I need to find a daycare or nanny in and I could use some help in what my criteria should be. I'm brand new to this and completely lost.

I'm currently pregnant with twins, first time mom. (Woot!!) Both Mr. Attackpanda and I have to work, one of us quitting to stay home and watch these two isn't an option unfortunately. Most of my friends with babies did stay home, so I really don't have anyone's referrals/experience to use. Every coworker I've asked has a family member watch their kid or this is the job they got when they decided to go back to work. I'm in Houston if that matters.

My questions are:
1. What do I look for in a good daycare?
2. How do I even know it's a good daycare?
3. Is a nanny better in the long run since I'm having twins?
4. Would a nanny be less expensive than a daycare?
5. Where does one even hire a nanny?
6. What should I look for in a nanny?

Any other pieces of advice about this are welcome and appreciated. I saw a nanny question, but that was on 2013, so I figured there might be updated information
posted by Attackpanda to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Are you on any local mom/parent Facebook groups? Daycare recommendations are a common question and after 5 years of reading comments on mine and speaking to people IRL with personal experience, its clear that you can get good advice from strangers on FB.. at least enough to make a list of good places to visit.

My friends who used nannys also found them on the mom FB group.
posted by gatorae at 5:38 PM on September 11, 2018

I have 2.5 year twins. We had a nanny for two years, after my maternity leave was over, and we just transitioned to preschool. We loved having a nanny and thought it was very cost-effective for our twins. I found our nanny on, and she's been amazing.
posted by studioaudience at 5:58 PM on September 11, 2018

In my area (Vancouver, Canada), daycare is really hard to get for infants. It’s expensive, but the cost goes down as they get bigger. I took a Canadian 1 year mat leave, then we got a nanny, as it was cheaper than 2 daycare spots. We moved them to daycare at 3.5, as the rates are lower in the preschool room.

We hired our first nanny through a Craigslist ad. When she moved away after a few months, she referred a friend, who was awesome. If you’re getting a Nanny, remember to pay well, and there are taxes, sick days, etc.

Nowadays, our city “twins and more” Facebook group trades around nanny with twin experience references. Enough that our old nanny has basically only helped with twins. Look for a local twin group, often called “mothers of multipes” or MOMs. Often someone will be transitioning to daycare or school, and is happy to help find a new job for a Nanny who has cared for twins.

Good luck! If you’re in Vancouver, message me and I’ll invite you to our twin group.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 6:01 PM on September 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

My state has a daycare rating system that goes above and beyond accreditation - I looked for a place with the top rating. You might see if your state has something similar. I only have one, though - I do suspect that a nanny would be more cost-effective and/or practical with twins than daycare (but you won’t know until you look).
posted by eirias at 6:34 PM on September 11, 2018

1, 2, 6 In general, meeting potential nannies and touring daycares will give you a lot of helpful information. You will probably have strong opinions. I wouldn't use an uncertified daycare, and I'd want the nanny to have gone through one of those background-checking systems and have references. For nannies, you want someone who will interact with your kids (not surf the Internet whIle they sit in a stroller). We skipped the nannies that felt too nice, like they'd tell us what we wanted to hear, and found someone who would tell us the real story and what the kids really need. But ultimately, we picked the nanny that my then 4 month old seemed most relaxed around. With the first 6 we interviewed, we felt a range of things from "we'll never be able to go back to work" to "how do we choose between all these people we feel meh about?" Then, the person we ultimately hired showed up, and we immediately knew we wanted to work with her.

3 Probably more convenient (they come to you) and more targeted attention (1:2 adult:kid ratio whereas daycare is 1:4 for infants, at least in California). With a nanny, you're depending on them (e.g., what happens when they get frustrated, what are their cleanliness standards) whereas with a daycare, there are other providers around and standards about all sorts of things. With a nanny, you don't have care if they're sick or their kids are sick.

4 This really depends on the local market. I think nannies are generally more expensive until you get to three kids, but I find daycare costs to vary a LOT from place to place.

5, urban sitters, local parents Facebook groups. You could also look into au pair services, if you're willing to combine your care situation with basically hosting a foreign exchange student in your house, in exchange for lower costs.

The AskMe archives have some great previous questions on this, too. Good luck, this can be stressful. Whatever you pick, you can always change it if it isn't working.
posted by slidell at 6:56 PM on September 11, 2018

Twins were so expensive for us to put in daycare that my wife, a schoolteacher with 5+ years of experience at the time, ended up staying home for two extra years because we would have lost money every month if she’d gone back to work. That may be a commentary on the perpetually sad state of teacher pay, or more likely it’s just that expensive to send infant twins to daycare. We briefly looked into a nanny and found it was about the same money wise, maybe a bit cheaper, and certainly so with an au pair, but then you’ve got to house and feed them too.

FWIW their daycare today is still $1000+ a month for just before/afterschool care and they’re nine.
posted by togdon at 7:09 PM on September 11, 2018

In my area a nanny was cheaper than a daycare for me. (90 a day for infant) I left for work early, nanny came, my husband went to work, then I relived the nanny at 2.
I loved my nanny so much. Just a really nice woman I found on Craigslist.
I just had a feeling with her. She got pregnant very young, was a nanny with another family while raising her kids along side them. Her kids and her employer's kids were old enough and no longer needed them.

I loved not delivering a sick kid to a day care, and having my kid at home. My parents weren't the type of people that could take care of a kid (even when I was a kid!) But they could visit the baby at the house when ever They wanted.
posted by beccaj at 7:33 PM on September 11, 2018

What part of Houston? Depending on the area, I may be able to memail you specific suggestions.

I'm in Houston and among my friends, they've generally found the break even for when nannies are more affordable is 3 kids.

Several of them have had good luck with Morningside Nannies as a placement agency
posted by pineapplerunner at 7:36 PM on September 11, 2018

I would do a nanny until about two. In the first 1.5-2 years lots of one on one time with an adult is really important. Around two it’s a good idea to introduce lots more peer time, so I’d look to switch to a quality daycare unless the nanny is much more cost effective and you have access to lots of kid stuff where they interact with peers regularly. We did parks, library story time, music class, kids gym, and swimming for regular peer time.
posted by JenMarie at 8:05 PM on September 11, 2018

I have two young children who are in day care. This week I have been home with one of them 3 days. They’ve been in daycare since a few months old and I really like it for the stimulation and socializing but they’re home so often sick in the early years. I think last winter we didn’t get a full week in all of January/February.
posted by catspajammies at 4:40 AM on September 12, 2018

Oh! And daycare didn’t always listen to us or pass on info to colleagues after hand overs. Where I live a nanny is more expensive otherwise I would have got a nanny.
posted by catspajammies at 4:43 AM on September 12, 2018

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