In home Daycare, vs business daycare, vs Nanny, where to start?

It looks like this topic has come up briefly before but I'm still struggling with it as I don't feel like I have all the information. My wife is due in March and I'm not sure how/when to find a daycare provider.  My wife will go back to work after 12 weeks, and while she would love to stay home, and that's the best, its not a reality in our case.  I've driven by, searched the internet for in-home daycare, and seen the very limited info online from the businesses (ie: Blocks and Little Beginnings).  

One big priority for me is flexibility which it looks like the businesses offer compared to the in home day cares that close down for vacations and all sorts of holidays. A Nanny would be convenient, we would need him/her 4 or 5 days a week and I'm not sure what negative trade-offs other than potential significant cost there would be?  We don't have family that lives close so that's not an option.  I'm not opposed to either option, but this is our first child and we're trying to get the scoop on good experiences.  We live off of Madison so something in our proximity would be ideal, both of the businesses have that going for them.  Unfortunately we haven't gotten any info from neighbors because we don't already have kids so we are a little out of the circle.  Other people we know in surrounding communities seem to just "know" some person down the street who does a great job.  

Does anyone have recommendations, guidance, personal experience, know someone, or anything else we should be aware of? If you know some specifcs, feel free to email me as I'm all ears.  

Thanks in advance.  

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Sam - Sarah Corbin just wrote an article on about shopping for child care today. It might be worth a phone call to Parenthesis Family Center to find out if the providers that will be at their Fair next Thursday night will include care for newborns. Hope it helps and good luck!

Nice plug Brian.  Thanks.  

And I would also say - most of the early childcare providers on have a little round logo next to them. (I may have missed a few)  There are extensive at home daycare listings right now.  We have been really fortunate to partner with the Collaboration for Early Childhood  And visiting their website is worth it.  The 2010 directory is still on line at their web site right now.  But the new 2012 printed directory is released the night of the Parenthesis Fair.  

For center based preschools and daycares you are going to go here.  Many have parent feedback and ratings and photos.

For home daycares and other general early childhood resources here 

Good luck. 

Sam, we were in a similar position almost 2 years ago. I'll tell you how it worked for us. I went to the Parenthesis fair when I was still pregnant and found very few centers that I liked. Researched ABC Toon Town prior to birth. On my maternity leave, I started to explore the options of a home daycare or a nanny share. I used West Suburban Home Daycare Association's referral # and Mom Mail to find our situation. (We don't have family here, either, and at the time had very few friends with children of similar age.)


When you call West Suburban Home Daycare Association, you reach an actual provider who will ask you some questions and find you some home daycares, licensed or not, to call. As a type-A organization freak, I have to say this really turned me off at first, but I called and found 2 home daycares that I then visited and asked a lot of questions. I think Collab 4 Kids as Sarah references, and Parenthesis, have lists you can use to prepare yourselves for an interview & tour. I ended up choosing one of the home daycares and loving it for the last 2 years. And you'll find that once you have children, you'll meet more families, and you'll find out even more about child care around here. I didn't find my provider until about 10 weeks after my daughter was born.

The other thing you might do is sign up for Mom Mail, which I think you can search for the information somewhere on this site. It's a listserv that I find really useful and she has a weekly sitter/daycare update. You'll be able to ask for referrals and lots of information if you are interested in a nanny or sitter instead.


Things to think about: cost, insuring a nanny, comfort level of having someone in your own home (nanny), socialization for your child, commute (I work at home, so I'm OK with the fairly strict hours most home daycares have, but if I were ever running late from work, I'd have a hard time keeping her schedule), how you want to diaper or feed your child, outdoor space, etc. I thought I'd prefer a center before my daughter was born because I like the idea of all the regulations, etc., but have found a home daycare a really perfect environment for us. She learns so much, without being in an institutional setting.


Friends use a couple of Montessori schools locally that have infant care. You can find those via the booklet at Parenthesis. I think if we hadn't found our perfect caregiver, I would have gone with a Montessori preschool with infant care.



Great, thanks everyone for all of your suggestions.  We really appreciated the great information!




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