Child Taking a Quiz

Nanny vs Daycare in Chicago

Childcare logistics are the number one stress for working parents. It’s a given: you want the best for your child. So what is better, a nanny or daycare? It comes down to your family’s personality profile and what works best for your family. Take our quick quiz to discover more!

Childcare Quiz

Select the answer that best fits the description of your family:

1. This is how we roll…

a. We’re a family of early risers that get up and going right away.

b. Our family prefers a leisurely start to the day.

2. How important is it for you to have a say in your child’s daily routine such as nap schedule, diet and activities?

a. Somewhat important, but I trust the pros.

b. Very important, I know my child best.

3. Our philosophy on kids and “bugs” & “germs” such as common viruses, contagious ailments such as pink eye, lice, etc is….

a. It’s best they’re exposed early on to build up their immune system before they enter kindergarten.

b. It’s best to at least attempt to prevent babies and tots from too much exposure.

4. Do you agree or disagree? Too much activity is taxing and can be stressful for young children…

a. Disagree

b. Agree

5. Which statement do you agree with more…

a. When it comes to young children, structure throughout the majority of the day is important to us.

b. Structure is important but we value our young child(ren) to be able to have free time/quiet time when needed.


Flip to reveal!

If you answered:

Mostly A’s: A daycare setting would likely be the better fit for your family.

Mostly B’s: A nanny would likely be the better fit for your family.

If you answered a mix of both: do both!

Consider a Combination of Both

Why not keep your child in the home setting with a nanny for the first few years and then enroll them in a daycare or preschool program?

Research shows:  

“For the first three years, infants and toddlers do best in home-based settings. They tend to experience less stress, less illness, and fewer behavioral problems.”

Dona Matthews Ph.D.

If you can swing it, this will provide your child with the individualized care at home while they are young and introduce them to a more structured setting as they age.


Hiring a nanny to come to your home is great for families who value:

  • Individualized care
  • Convenience
  • Say over how care is provided

A nanny is not for you if:

  • You aren’t ready for the responsibilities of being a domestic employer
  • You aren’t able to afford to pay a competitive rate and/or you aren’t willing to do a nanny share
  • You don’t feel comfortable with someone in your home while your are not there

Common types of in-home care:

  • Babysitter- casual, occasional childcare
  • Nanny- regular, professional childcare
  • Household manager- assumes other household responsibilities in addition to caring for the children

When to start your search:

Occasionally, a nanny will start their job search well in advance. This typically happens when the family they are employed with is moving or the child will be starting school. More often, a nanny is looking for a job more immediately.

It is recommended to start your nanny search 2-4 months prior to the start-date. Search for nannies and build your childcare network through those you already know on


A daycare setting works great for families who value:

  • Structured activities
  • Schedules
  • Socialization

Daycare may not be for you if:

  • Your work schedules doesn’t fit within daycare drop-off/pick-up times
  • You’re particular about your child’s schedule- most often they will be expected to mold with the masses
  • You don’t have the flexibility to stay home with your child when they are sick (Facilities have strict policies sick kids. You must be available to leave work at a moment’s notice if they fall ill)

Most common types of daycare:

When to start your search:

There are hundreds of daycare facilities in the Chicagoland area. The length of their waitlist can vary just as much as the quality of the facility and the price points. It is advised to start your search well in advance. You will need ample time to do your research, tour the facilities and register.

Wait-list for top daycares in Chicago can be over a year long!

Financial Considerations

Often times budget and finances dictate childcare decisions more than we’d like. As a middle income family with two young children, I understand this all too well. Real wage growth is falling, while the cost of childcare has risen higher than the cost of college tuition in 28 U.S. States!

Via The Village’s mission is to help families find trusted, quality childcare with ways to make it more affordable.

Employing a nanny is on the high end of the cost spectrum. If you need or desire in-home childcare, but it isn’t within budget, consider a nanny share.

Cost Cutting Strategies

Nanny sharing can save you over $10,000 per year on high quality care! When you come together with another family, you can both benefit from a 33% reduction in cost while feeling great about creating a higher paying job for a nanny.

If the single family rate is $15/hr, the nanny share rate would be $10/hr per family, so the nanny earns $20/hr.

If you prefer a daycare setting, home daycares are the way to go for the cost-conscious family. Just be sure the daycare is licensed.

Whether you go with a nanny or daycare, your child is in good hands. They have a parent that takes the time to read articles such as this and thoughtfully make decisions. Good luck with your search!

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