Nanny care: Overview

Nanny care: Overview

If you prefer to have childcare come to you rather than have to deliver your child to home daycare or a daycare center each morning, a nanny may be a good option for you. Many parents also like the one-on-one attention for their child and the freedom to oversee everything from naptime to snacks that comes with hiring a nanny.

Some nannies even have specialized training or experience in caring for newborns, multiples, or in helping babies and children develop good sleep habits.

All this care and nurturing comes at a price, of course. You'll probably have to pay a nanny more than a daycare center costs, but many parents are willing and able to bear the cost. According to the International Nanny Association, as many as 1 million nannies work in the United States.

What do the experts say?

Experts who favor one-on-one care tend to prefer nanny care because it provides the focused attention that is especially important for infants. But a study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development suggests that when it comes to childcare, what matters more is the quality of care, not the type.

If you have a nanny who is not only experienced, reliable, and responsive, but also understands and nurtures your child's developmental and emotional needs, then you have a childcare arrangement that is pretty close to ideal. And if you supplement nanny care with playdates or other social opportunities, you have a situation that will grow with your child.

Sometimes though, it can be hard to evaluate your nanny because you're not there to monitor her. (For help, see signs of a good nanny.) If you're not confident your nanny is doing a stellar job, consider finding someone else or looking for a high-quality daycare or homecare arrangement instead.

Top questions about nanny care

  • Is the nanny licensed?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages?
  • How do I find a nanny?
  • What are the signs of a good nanny?
  • What are the signs of a bad nanny?
  • How do I make the relationship work?

The bottom line

Although the idea of having someone care for your child in your home sounds like the perfect arrangement, it does take some effort to find and keep a good nanny. Being a good employer is important if you want her to stay.

There are also legal issues to consider when employing a nanny. But if you're not fazed by the other paperwork involved in hiring a nanny and are willing to invest the time in building and maintaining a strong relationship with her, it could be a great option for you and your family.

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