Nannies: The Best Childcare Option

Photo by mac.rj via Flickr Creative Commons.

by bridget kathleen kelly

Parents have to make big decisions for their young children starting even before they are born. Will they name the baby after crazy Grandpa Cornelius or wacky Grandpa Walter? What kind of diapers will be used? Will the nursery be painted yellow or green? While the effects of having a unique name may last a lifetime, there is one decision that will make a huge impact on how a child develops: what kind of childcare to use? According to the National Network for Childcare, “quality child care has the capability of promoting trust, autonomy, and a true sense of happiness and well-being in children. It can lead to positive social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development.” What more could a parent ask for?

More than two thirds of children in America have working mothers and therefore are in need of childcare. Most parents must choose between finding an opening in a daycare center or hiring a nanny to care for their bundles of joy. As with most major decisions, many factors must be taken into consideration. However, after closer inspection, it is clear that nannies can offer everything a daycare does and more.

Promoting Socialization

Gaining social skills is crucial for children to grow into intelligent, compassionate adults. However, a daycare may not be the best way to accomplish this as many would assume. A good nanny knows how important socialization is in a child’s development and will cater to those needs. The nanny can accompany her charges to early childhood classes and play groups where they can interact with the same children repeatedly and build relationships. They can also attend fun outings such as the playground, library, or the grocery store. Taking turns with others on the slide, asking the librarian for help finding books, or putting groceries on the conveyer belt for the cashier are all forms of socialization. Being exposed to a variety of people, environments, and situations will broaden a child’s skill set and knowledge of the world.

One-on-One Attention

Children who are cared for by nannies receive more one-on-one attention than those in daycare centers. According to www.childcareresourcesinc.org, “one of the most important quality indicators for child care centers is its staff to child ratio. The fewer children served by each staff member is critical to higher quality care.” Depending on a child’s age, the staff-to-child ratio in daycare centers may be anywhere from one adult for every 3 to 15 children.

Nanny Joy Schreiber of Des Plaines, Illinois, recalls her days working in a childcare center. “Having worked in infant classrooms, I would say that for infants it would be much better to hire a nanny. There is no possible way for an infant in daycare to get the one-on-one attention that they need. Some days all you can do is meet basic needs of feeding, diapers, and naps. By the time you get done with one round, it's time to start the next.” Only being able to meet the basic needs of infants is sufficient. In addition to food and sleep, babies need physical, emotional, and mental stimulation.

For older children, one-on-one attention is just as crucial. Nannies can tailor activities to a child’s individual interests. Nanny Carrie Corbin of Chicago, Illinois explains, “I come up with age-appropriate activities that I know the child I watch will enjoy. At a daycare, where there might be a variety of ages in one setting, those age-appropriate stimulating activities may be harder to come by.” Toddlers have their own interests and preferences, which nannies can use to enhance learning opportunities.

Family Convenience

Another great reason to hire a nanny is convenience. Many parents do not work nine-to-five jobs, which means the cookie-cutter start and end times of daycare centers will not meet the family’s needs. A nanny can start and end her workday at any agreed upon time. Many nannies will also be flexible with their schedules as we all know things don’t always go as planned when there are little ones involved.

Having children be able to spend their days in the comfort of their own home is an attractive idea to many parents. After all, home embodies all a child really knows about the world. There are favorite toys for entertainment, loveys to wipe away tears, food chosen by Mom and Dad, and a familiar bed for naptime.

A nanny also means there is an adult at home during the day. This allows a world of tasks to get done that would not with a daycare. Nanny JoAnna Ryan Becker of Perkasie, Pennsylvania, lists “children’s laundry, homework help, meal preparation, grocery shopping, accepting deliveries, and being home for service people” as some of the many ways she helps make her NannyFamily’s life more convenient.

Caregiver Consistency

Consistency means that rules and expectations are the same at all times. Consistency makes the child’s world predictable and less confusing.4 Hiring a nanny allows the parents to choose a caregiver that will be consistent with their style of parenting. For example, new mother Haley Williams of Olympia, Washington, explains why she hired a nanny. “We knew that going with a nanny would allow a constant in my daughter's life instead of the constant turnover of other daycare kids and teachers. Ideally, we'll have the same nanny for several years so that she'll become close with us, understand our family, and ultimately care for my daughter the same way that we would as her parents.”

All children learn at a different pace and go through phases that require special attention. Whether it’s potty training or transitioning to sleep in a big kid bed, nannies and parents can work together to provide consistent encouragement and learning experiences while helping kids meet developmental milestones.

Final Thoughts

Hiring a nanny is the best childcare option. Nannies can provide children with everything a daycare offers and more. With individual attention, socialization, and consistency between parent and nanny, children can grow into confident, happy people.