Daycare vs. Babysitter – Is There a Right Choice?

So I am about to do something I never ever thought that I would do…Hire a babysitter to watch # 3 in my house – Gasp! I am a big, big proponent of daycare and I am famous for standing on my soap box and telling anyone who will listen why to choose day care over a babysitter. And here I am seriously considering a sitter. So let me tell you why I’m torn. For my 1st child I absolutely was sending her to daycare. In a nutshell I prefer it. Let me say generally when I say day care I am referring to one that you have thoroughly researched and are sure it is licensed and has no violations against it and one that is NOT in someone’s house.

I can honestly go on and on about daycare but I don’t have the space here so I’ll put my top two reasons.

  1. Socializationthe socialization children receive in a daycare setting is priceless. Your child will learn how to share, play with other children and wait their turn and wash their hands and eat together at a table and …the learning is endless.
  2. Accountabilitychances are your child will never be alone with an adult in day care, it’s pretty difficulty, most daycares have open bathrooms for the little ones (no doors) so there’s no privacy. In all the years I have been a prosecutor in child abuse and sex crimes I have handled thousands of cases, I personally have never had a physical or sexual abuse case where the child was victimized at day care. My office has handled a handful of physical abuse case against a daycare worker but that is the exception not to rule. However, and this is huge, in most of my cases (when I say most I mean 100%)… where there is an allegation of sexual or physical abuse of a child the accused is a family member or a close friend. The accused is NOT a stranger. Unless you have a nanny cam there is no accountability for your sitter.

It is a huge step to trust someone with your child especially your first because chances are you have never seen the sitter take care of a child before. So you may ask why would I go against my own advice now and choose a sitter for #3? Convenience, that’s why. I am all ready to go back to work (not really but I must) and I have no child care lined up for #3. I was considering a few daycares and discussing this dilemma with my cleaning lady/ occasional babysitter/friend when she said “I’ll watch the baby!” WOO HOO really I thought? I love, love, LOVE this woman and so do my kids. I never even thought about having a babysitter until she suggested it. And you know what she said to me? “You can’t send #3 to daycare, you need someone here to clean up for you and to cook dinner for you!” REALLY? Yes I do actually. I really trust this woman and I have seen her with my kids. I have been to her house and know her family. Sometimes she even stops by unexpectedly on a Saturday and plays with my kids.

Returning to work with 3 kids will be a lot. And the less I have to do when I get home the easier my life is. My job is tremendously stressful and I don’t want to worry about all the extras when I get home from work. I want to come home and play with the kids and hear all that I missed while I was at work. All of my worries went out the window with a 3 minute conversation with a friend. I know my kids will be safe and happy with the sitter … still, that’s not to say there won’t be a camera in this house.

About the Author

New York Prosecutor has been a Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Prosecutor in the NY Metro Area for over 10 years where she has prosecuted 100’s of cases where children have been the victim of physical and or sexual abuse. She is truth seeker, protector of crime victims, safety girl and blogger. She resides in New York City with her husband and three children. Follow New York Prosecutor at PedSafe Editor's Note: Due to the nature of SafetyGirlz' work, she has requested to remain confidential on this site.


21 Responses to “Daycare vs. Babysitter – Is There a Right Choice?”

  1. Nina says:

    I commend you for moving out of your comfort zone on this subject and try something new. I have my #1 in daycare and absolutely love it. Since #2 is on his way this has been a topic for discussion recently, we decided to continue on with the daycare program we are currently involved in.
    I know if I had someone in my home I would want cameras in more than just a few places! My husband disagrees and say’s that’s not fair to an employee. I say, I exist to protect my children………fair has plenty of opportunity elsewhere. Best of luck to yu and I look forward to progress reports!

  2. Ayse says:

    As a working mother of 3 I know how hard these can be but we have great instincts. I know in my heart you will make the best decisions for your family.

  3. Tina says:

    It’s definitely hard with 3 little ones. It sounds like you know in your heart you found the right babysitter so you have to go with it. I think at some point though as #3 gets older you may want to go back to daycare since it will be time for him to learn how to interract with others his age. Good luck!

  4. Good insight, NYP- thanks! I tend to agree that there is more socialization and accountability at day care, but what about individual attention? I’m sure you’d agree, but it has to be a very good one and with a decent care provider to child ratio.

  5. Hazel Owens says:

    I totally agree with your two top reasons for using a day care over a baby sitter. While a sitter may be more accessible for emergencies or weird times, a day care is a much more reliable way to make sure your child is safe. As you said, there is more accountability at a day care than at home, unless you put cameras up, so you never have to worry about if your child is in danger. Plus, your child can make friends that they couldn’t have made if they were at home with a sitter. Thanks for the article!

    • Stefanie Zucker Stefanie Zucker says:

      I think it helps if – like in this case – you’ve known the babysitter for years. But I think it’s always a tough choice, and it’s going to be different for each parent based on their particular circumstances. Thanks Hazel for stopping by! 🙂

  6. Tara Allen says:

    Child care facilities sound like a good option to help you child get socialization. I am impressed that child care centers teach children accountability in being in the care of another individual all day. I would agree that trusting another with your child is important and something that you need to learn to.

    • Stefanie Zucker Stefanie Zucker says:

      I think it will always be a difficult choice…and there will never be one “right” answer. But at some point trusting “someone” will likely be important for your child’s development (and probably for your sanity) 🙂 Thanks Tara for stopping by!

  7. Silas Knight says:

    It sounds like there are benefits to both a babysitter and daycare. I agree with you, I think socialization and accountability are huge pluses for taking you kids to daycare. We don’t have any kids yet, but I will definitely remember this when that time comes, thanks!

  8. If the baby is too little, I think it is still best to leave the baby with the nanny. There is always a nanny camera to install.

    • Stefanie Zucker Stefanie Zucker says:

      I think it never hurts to have an extra set of eyes… even if the only thing it does is make you feel more secure in your absence. Thanks for the suggestion…and for stopping by 🙂

  9. larissa says:

    Choosing a correct daycare center for your child involves asking plenty of questions and being observant. Start your search at least six months before. Also a good daycare center should have a welcoming, friendly atmosphere and be known for its nurturing environment too. Thanks for the great tips! Awesome post!

    • Stefanie Zucker Stefanie Zucker says:

      Hi Larissa, welcome back! Great input! Your comments are a terrific addition to the post 🙂 Thanks very much!

  10. And every parent must know their child too to know if they can fit in with the surroundings of the day care.

  11. When you’re visiting a potential site, pay attention to how the staff interacts with the children. Ideally, a caregiver should be on the floor playing with the kids or holding one on her lap. In their early years, babies need close, loving, interactive relationships with adults in order to thrive.

  12. My sister and her husband need to find a solution for my nephew this upcoming spring when my sister starts working again. Thanks for explaining that they will want to consider socialization. It is good to know that daycare can help him start to make friends and learn how to be around other kids.

  13. Elna Marie says:

    I am a wife, mother to six (29,27,24,11,10,8), a full-time student and I own and operate for almost 24 years a state licensed in home daycare. We have a 5 in the Kentucky Stars program, as well as have a great record with the state. I have worked really hard for the last 24 years to educate myself, hire well educated staff so that we are meeting all of our littles milestones and are kindergarten ready. As you stated ALWAYS do your homework as a parent on a program, but please do not disregard all in home programs. There are great, high quality in home programs that families will highly benefit from.
    Just wanted to give my perspective on this topic.

    • Stefanie Zucker Stefanie Zucker says:

      Hi Elna, You’re absolutely right…research matters… and it typically takes a little digging to find a diamond in the rough. Glad you stopped by 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend!

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