15 answers

Daycare Center vs In-home Care

I have two girls. One is almost 3yrs and has been going to a daycare center. I now have a 1 month old girl also. We originally planned to have them both go to the center, which we LOVE, but it's pricey. We were just offered two places at an in-home daycare for less than a third of the cost of the center. My dilemma is...either my husband gets a second job to pay for the daycare we LOVE or we take our 3yr old away from friends, fun learning activities and familiar faces to move the girls to an in-home sitter. What we love about the center is that my toddler learns so much, it's structured, the staff is fabulous and she can socialize with her age group. I'm afraid if we move them, my infant wouldn't have those opportunities. Is it worth the savings to take them away from that?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

We met with the inhome daycare lady and we were impressed! A friend of mine takes her baby there and had nothing but good things to say. However, it is quite far from where we live, on the other side of town. We sat down to look at our budget and after cutting a few things out, we're able to afford staying at our daycare center while my husband works 8 hours per week for his dad. We're going to stay with the center. Thanks for all your input!

More Answers

I'm bias for sure since my Mother runs an in-home daycare. Both will have pros and cons. The big issue is the people working at a center or in-home care. Do your research ask a lot of questions and have your list of what you expect with the care of your children. I would not be so concerned about the socializing of certain ages. My Mom has mixed the age groups for set amounts of times and they do really well with it. The older children love to help and be considerate of the little ones and the younger kids get great socializing good play time with the other kids.
I will say that I've run in to kids and adults over the years that have gone to my Mothers daycare. All have said it was the best place they'd been to and had lots of fun. It's amazing how your childhood experiences will stick with you. If your daughter likes it and is learning and having fun pay attention to her opinion.
Just do what feels right and works for your family.
Best wishes,

Although you pay more for center base care, it is the only way I felt comfortable. My child was fussy and I knew she was hard to care for, I worried that if I took her to in home she might be shaken. At centers there is more than one person so if one person gets frustrated they can pass the child off to the next person. That isn't to say that there aren't bad centers and good in home care. I think you really need to research both and do your homework. I don't think you can put a price on your childs care. We just cut back on other expenses. Good luck congrats on your new baby. Some centers are full so if you pull your child and a month down the road decide you want to go back would they even have room for your child?

I think you have already made the decision yourself. You being a family should out way anything. If the in-home child care is a loving and caring environment, then i would go with it. Is it possible for you to stick your daughter in a preschool program a few mornings a week and still save money. My son goes to preschool two days a week and loves the time away from daycare. He is able to interact with other children hiis age, but it doesn't break the back. This would also allow for you new little bundle of joy to get the kind of love and care that you would give your daughter yourself. Good luck on your decision.

We use an in-home care and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I think the key is make sure they are licenced. There are standards about how many children of what ages the provider can have depending on thier licence.

I like the smaller size of our daycare. She works only with infants and toddlers, so all the kids are around the same age, right now everyone is 2 and under (I have a 2 year old and an 8 month old in her care. She keeps a structure to thier routine, when she can. Now that some of the kids are getting to preschool age (or close to it) she can keep more of a structure. My son does real well with it. Every morning he's so exited to go to daycare. He gets there and he starts showing me the kids art on the wall and telling me who made it. We are the early arrivers and one other girl shows up early too, he's sooo excited when she comes in. They play real nice together.

Yoou can find the kind of care you are looking for in an in-home care. Just go to lots of interviews and like the other poster said, be very picky. Ask lots of questions, watch how the interract with the kids. And definately make sure they are licenced, call her references and then there's a city number I think you can call to check on the licence and any incidences that may have been reported.

I am a little bias on my comments because I am an in-home provider but you may find that your 3 year old does even better at an in-home center. Be PICKY!!!! Visit a lot of in home centers in your area and find the right fit for you and your family. Don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions and let the provider know your concerns. People seem to think that in home centers are just babysitters and that they park the kids in front of the tv all day....if you work with a licensed or certified provider that is committed to their business you may find even more structure there than in a center. I am not saying all in home providers are good and that is why I suggest meeting with a lot of them and also asks family, friends, and coworkers for referrals...they will tell you if they have had a negative experience of if they have someone they really love!!! Another suggestion would be to look for someone that has mixed ages....your 3 year old would really benefit from hearing the conversations of older children and yet learn to be gentle with the youngers ones and your darling 1 month old is going to be a little sponge picking up information from all of the children...this seems like a win win for you and if it is more affordable then I think it is a good move....just make sure you educate yourself on what is available in your area and BE PICKY!!

My son had an in-home daycare provider from the time he was 3 months old until he was about 3 1/2, at which time we decided he needed a bit more socialization. He now goes to a daycare center 2 days a week so that he can interact with peers, but on the other days he is still one on one with his in-home daycare lady. It works out great. I personally think that the baby would also benefit from having one on one time with the private provider if you sent the older child a few days a week to a public facility. We love both our private sitter and the center that he goes to, and he seems to love the variety - fun with friends and time with a great woman who has taught him so much with the time she has for him one on one. I think that you can enjoy the best of both worlds with a little creativity, and the kids would both benefit tremendously.


I am a in-home daycare provider, and I understand where you are coming from. I also have 2 girls and love scrapbooking by the way. Anyways, I think in-home daycare is great for infants and young toddlers. However, centers are great for pre-school age children, because they can offer so much. I watch 7 kids, ages 10mos-4yrs. The parents that come to me, say they would rather put their kids in a in-home setting rather then a center. They feel it is more personable. I've worked at a center as well. I personally feel closer to the children I watch now, verses the children I watch at a center. I've been doing to for over 4 yrs, so I feel like these kids are part of my family. I am very structured. I offer lesson time, which gives my children the opportunity to explore their creative side. I teach them the skills they need for pre-school and kindergarten. The children I have watched over the years have been my daughters best friends. I'm sure I'm a little bias, but I would always recommend in-home daycare. Especially for younger children. Just make sure it is someone you can trust. Also, don't be afraid to ask the provider if she/he will do crafts and lesson time with the kids. Most providers would love to do that kind of stuff, especially if parents are willing to help with supplies. Good Luck!

I worked at inhome daycare that had a preschool curriculum and plenty of kids to socialize with. I think a inhome daycare teaches the same as a center but is more like a home and more nuturing so the kids may learn more practical skills like eating together family style at a table and learn to clear their own plates from the table etc...

My daughter's been in both and she learned more loving, practical skills, behaviors and mannerism in at a inhome daycare.The other chlidren were like siblings to my daughter.

I did like a few daycare centers my daughter went to but I felt it was much more like a institution like she was another number. My main objection to a center is they usually have horrible turnover rates and bounce through employees.

There is also evening preschool in district 191 for working parents. My daughter did inhome daycare during the day (i worked there) and twice a week she went to evening preschool where she was seperated from me and learned to socialize with a whole bunch of other kids and learned classroom behavior and rules etc.

My daughter goes to an in-home daycare and I LOVE it. I think she gets pleanty of socialization and she definitely gets more one-on-one attention from the daycare ladies (my in-home daycare is a mother and a daughter so there's two). At 3 years your daughter won't really notice that she'll miss her friends as she'll quickly make new ones at the new daycare. The in-home daycare will also have pleanty of fun learning activities. I bet if you move your girls to an in-home daycare, you'll find you like it even better than the center!

My son went to an in-home daycare from 1 1/2 - 4 1/2 (we took him out because we moved), and the provider was fabulous. There were two other boys near his age range, and when the "big kids" came home from school, the toddlers got "homework" too. She would sit with the kids and help them with their school work, but she would also teach colors, shapes and letters/sounds to the toddlers.

I couldn't imagine ever taking my kids to a center because to me that's just too many children and too few providers. (I can't afford the "nice" centers) My son is at the top of his class and is reading on a 4th grade level in 1st grade. I know much of it has to do with what my husband and I have taught him, but our daycare provider certainly helped us lay the groundwork for his education. Talk to the in-home provider and see what he/she offers as far as activities for the children.

We have taken our son (6 years old) to in-home daycare all of his life and would not trade that for anything. Now we have an 11 month old and she goes to the same day care. It makes me feel good to drop her off in the morning, because she is so excited to see the daycare providers (woman and her mother). Yet, when I pick her up, she is super excited to see me and is ready and rarin' to go home with me. I feel that the in-home daycare is able to give more individualized attention to each of the children and you can tell that childcare is their life and they love every one of their children just as though they are their own children. It is a very loving in-home daycare. I think part of the reason they are so loving and accepting at our in-home daycare is that their culture is all about family. My husband and I are treated like part of their family too.
I guess I am a little biased, since we have only taken our kids to in-home daycare providers. I worked in a childcare center years ago and the environment--although caring--didn't have that feeling of love that we get when we walk into our provider's home.
I would really look at do you want daddy to be home, spending time with the family (even if it is only until she starts school) or having daddy at home and your 3-year old making new friends (which being as young as she is, would probably happen pretty quickly).

Good luck on your decision. It sounds like it will be a tough one to make and I am sure you will make the decision that is best for your family. Just make sure you weigh all of the pros and cons. Good luck!

Hi J.,

You have so many responses that I did not read them all yet! I have an almost 4 year old that is in her second center (we moved and had to change her daycare but we loved the first one too). I don't really know if it matters much for an infant where the care is taking place as long as the care is GOOD. But I do feel that a daycare center can offer more to an older child then an in-home provider can. Our current daycare organizes field trips, has in-house field trips (the person or place comes to the daycare), provides group structure and has a mini-school feel (her current daycare receives expectations from the surrounding school districts and plans their curriculum to ensure preparedness for Kindergarten. They boast that their kids are more prepared for school then others). I am so grateful that we found this place because my daughter is very shy in new situations and things like taking a bus to a field trip or being in a room with a lot of kids can be intimidating to her -- so much so that she will cry and just break down. She is experiencing so much at daycare that I am comfortable she will be ready for Kindergarten once it rolls around instead of it being an overly traumatic experience. Oh she will still be clingy and teary-eyed I am sure but she will adapt much faster because of the experiences she has already had.

I am not against in-home daycare at all. I have just had great experiences with the two different centers that we've used and would not trade them for anything. Maybe using in home care for the new baby for the first year or so would help with your expenses?

Good luck to you -

If you stayed with the center, your husband would have to get a second job? Or an inhome daycare and your daughter gives up her friends? I am NOT being mean one little bit when I say if it comes between Daddy being home and having to make new friends in a smaller setting vs Daddy exhausting himself with two jobs, seldom seeing anyone at home, and your daughter keeping the old ones, I'd go for Daddy being around. Also, the center may be more ideal for your older child, but the smaller ratio and hands on attention is MUCH more ideal for the new baby. There are PLENTY of inhome daycares with preschool programs, flexible hours, smaller ratios of children to adults. In a couple of years, the three year old will be in school, there's plenty of time for socialization!

Good luck in your decision. I found an inhome daycare with a nice mix for my 2 year old and did inhome daycare myself for three years, so I am partial to the home feeling of inhome providers. There's good and bad apples no matter which way you choose.

Hi J.~

I'm not sure this will help your decision or make it tougher, but I wanted to share my opinion. My son has been in one center, and two in-home. Both have their benefits and pitfalls. With my experience I have found that the center is more appealing for pre-school age children. When my won was an infant in a center he just sat in a swing or in his carseat (in his crib) all day. He was understimulated. I would not send an infant back to a center again, unless I had no alternative. The upside was that I knew he was safe! I didn't have to worry about him being abused, mistreated, or being fed something inappropriate.

In-home daycares are wonderful if you can find someone that you trust 100%. We are having issues with ours currently, but the important thing is open communication. It's really hard not knowing what goes on while you are working, so trust is the biggest issue.

The other thing I wanted to say is about your husband having to get a second job to make up the difference for a daycare center. I believe that is not a good way for a family to be a family if one or both parents are away from the children so much. But, if you can't find an in-home that you are comfortable with, then it is a sacrifice that has to be made.

I wish you the best of luck with your decision!

Are the two locations close enough together that you could take them to separate places for awhile? That's a hard choice to make...I'll just feel you in on my experience to give a some insight since there's no easy answer...

Both of my children went to an in-home daycare from the time they were about 9 weeks old until last Fall (they were 3 and 4). First, let me start by saying I can't say enough good things about our provider (maybe she was a bit eccentric and opinionated, but she did put up with me and my "by the book" attitude as a first time mom, what a change when it comes to the 2nd child!!!). She provided lots of love and a place for them to feel secure...she was their second mom (if you really think about it, with me and my husband working full-time, she spent more time with them during the day than we did!) While the larger centers offer many things for infants, I'm glad I went the in-home route because I feel they were given more attention than they would have gotten at a large center. That being said, there came a point where I felt they needed to move on to a different place that had more to offer them in the way of socialization and things to do. They were perfectly happy where they were at, but moving them was the best thing I've ever done! Now they get field trips, plenty of outdoor time, interaction with many kids their own age, plus they teach them so much! My in-home care provider also did preschool, however, it was on a much smaller scale. If it's possible for you to take the baby to the in-home care provider and leave your older daughter where she's at, that would be my advice. It might be kind of a hassle at times, but for the money and the type of care, it may be worth it. You have some tough decisions to make...good luck in whatever you choose to do!

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