Child care center/daycare:
What it looks like – Your child attends a group child care setting with other children of a similar age
PRO – Child care centers have strict regulations, so the staff is usually certified in First Aid/CPR, and the child-caregiver ratio is low. Many centers also require their caregivers to complete an early childhood certification program, so they are trained in working with young children.
CONS – Your child will probably contract more than her fair share of viruses, especially her first year. Because there are several children per adult, your child may have to adjust to a group schedule of feeding and napping that may differ from the one at home.
Nanny or babysitter:
What it looks like – Your child receives care from an individual in your home
PRO – Your child has the undivided attention of a caregiver in a safe, familiar place. It also makes maintaining a feeding and napping schedule easy.
CONS – Lack of socialization. As your child gets older, you may want him to interact with other babies or toddlers, not just adults, to learn about sharing, taking turns, etc.
What it looks like – A grandparent, aunt or uncle, or other family member cares for your child in your home or theirs
PRO – Family members have a personal relationship with your child, so it’s probably the closest thing to having you there.
CONS – If your family member doesn’t agree with your way of doing things, they may do what worked for their kids. They may feel more comfortable doing their own thing without consulting you.
What it looks like – Au pairs are typically young female nannies who live in your home and work up to forty hours per week caring for your children
PRO – Because most au pairs come to America from another country, they introduce new cultural perspectives and ideas to your children. If you go through an organization like Au Pair in America or Interexchange, the candidates are pre-screened. Often the overall cost is less per hour than traditional babysitters or nannies.
CONS – Having someone enter your home (and your lives) for a year is a big commitment. You need to make sure you and your family are prepared for this. Most au pairs commit up to one year, so you’ll have to repeat the process again next year.
What it looks like – A combination of any of the options listed above
PRO – You can customize care to meet your needs, and possibly save money. Your child gets to experience different settings, and learns to socialize with a variety of people.
CONS – Change can be confusing for children, and if your hybrid schedule isn’t regimented, your child’s routines (eating, sleeping, etc.), may suffer.