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Childcare Providers: In Your Home vs. a Childcare Center

Choosing between hiring a nanny or sending your child to a daycare center shouldn't feel agonizing. First, forget about comparing your family to any other. Prioritize your list of requirements for a care setting and go from there. A nanny's ideal if you need flexibility; if your kiddo thrives in a crowd, a center might be best. There's a right setting for every family.

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Financial Factors

The average annual cost for an infant in a center ranged from about $5,000 to $16,000 per year according to a 2012 report by Child Care Aware of America. Prices are usually highest in urban areas. Typically, full-time, in-home child care is more expensive than a center. The nanny placement service Nannies4Hire.com claims the typical salary for a nanny in 2012 was anywhere from $250 to $850 per week. It all depends on her experience and the cost of living in your area.

Your Child's Experience

A center isn't geared toward individual experience says the University of Michigan Health System. Constant one-on-one attention isn't part of the deal. However, if your child is nearing kindergarten age, center experience could help her learn to make friends and function in a classroom setting. In a home setting, she can learn at her own pace without being overwhelmed by other children. Babies used to schedules could have trouble adjusting to the times set by a center. At home, a nanny can follow the schedules to which your baby's accustomed.

Administrative Concerns

Being the boss comes with its own set of challenges. When your in-home caregiver catches a cold, it's up to you to find a replacement — and you're the one responsible for monitoring her behavior and investigating her background. And if you employ an in-home caregiver, says Care.com, you'll have payroll and tax responsibilities that vary by state. Before signing enrollment paperwork at a childcare center, verify that background checks are done on the staff, that the center follows state and county licensing requirements, and has adequate staff to care for your child.

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Weighing the Options

Child care centers are structured, while in-home care is flexible, says the UMHS. Centers have set daytime hours, so the flexibility of in-home care is a bonus if your work schedule is a problem. In-home care can also be more affordable than a center if you team up with another parent to split the cost of a nanny to watch both your children. The child's temperament matters too. A baby who's a light sleeper, for instance, might struggle in a care center where there's a lot of activity during her usual nap times.

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