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Choosing Child Care

Nannies and Au Pairs

Many parents of infants and very young children prefer to have their child cared for in their own home, by a nanny or au pair. This is probably the most expensive of the three main approaches to child care, and it also requires backup for any time your nanny is sick, on vacation, or needs personal time.

On the other hand, having a nanny gives your child much more one-on-one attention, and being cared for in your home means less exposure to germs -- which may be particularly important to you if your child was in the NICU or is otherwise fragile. You can also set a specific schedule with your nanny; many centers and home-based day cares close at 6:30 p.m., but if you can't leave work until that time, a nanny may be best for you.

One good source for finding a nanny is the International Nanny Association (

Things to ask a prospective nanny (besides checking her references thoroughly):

  • Why are you interested in working with young children?
  • Have you worked with young infants or newborns before?
  • Why did you leave your last position?
  • Are you certified in CPR and willing to undergo a criminal background check?
  • How would you handle discipline? Temper tantrums? Toilet issues?
  • What would a typical day with you be like for my baby?

No matter which type of child care you think is right for you, be sure to visit each center or home-based day care center on multiple occasions, or meet with each nanny candidate you're seriously considering more than once.

Observe the children. Do the children seem happy? Is this a place you could see your child thriving? If something just doesn't feel right to you, move on. But if the answer is yes, then you've probably found the right child care.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD on June 18, 2014
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