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Which child care is best?

Once you understand the different types of child care available, you need to decide which option is the best for you and your family. It is important to compare the pros and cons of the different types of child care, and consider:

  • When you need child care, e.g. full-time or two days a week
  • Where you need child care, e.g. at home or near work
  • Your budget
  • Your child’s temperament, interests and needs
  • Your values and parenting philosophies, e.g. discipline

Child care comparison table

The table below summarizes the main advantages and disadvantages of different types of child care.

TYPE OF CHILD CARE

ADVANTAGES

DISADVANTAGES

Long day care (child care centre)

  • For a single child, it is usually cheaper than hiring a nanny.
  • Care is always available during opening hours. The centre will manage replacement staff if any carer is ill or unavailable.
  • Provides a structured program with routine and activities.
  • Centres are licensed facilities, and all staff will have relevant experience and qualifications.
  • Child meets a range of other children and educators.
  • Less individual attention than nanny or au pair.
  • Child is exposed to more people and more illnesses.
  • Child may find it hard to settle in to unfamiliar environment.
  • Many centres have long waiting lists and fees can be expensive.
  • May not be flexible enough to suit your child’s individual temperament and needs.
  • You will have to arrange travel to and from the centre.

Family day care

  • A more affordable child care option.
  • A safe, home environment with consistent care.
  • Most educators have had children of their own.
  • Interaction with a small group of children of varying ages.
  • Can be arranged to fit in to your schedule.
  • You will need to arrange back-up care if the educator is ill or unavailable.
  • There is not the same range of toys, equipment and activities as at a child care centre.
  • You will have to arrange travel to and from the educators home.

In-home care

  • May be the best option in special situations eg parents working non-standard hours, sick child.
  • Flexible child care to suit the hours you need.
  • Individual attention for your child.
  • Child stays in home environment. Routines do not have to change. No need to travel and less exposure to illness.
  • Can be expensive, depending on how long care is needed.
  • Child may miss out on daily social interactions if there are no regular play dates and outings.
  • You will need to arrange back-up care if the carer is ill or unavailable.

Babysitter

  • Flexible child care, especially for short periods over evenings and weekends.
  • Child stays in home environment.
  • Gives parents a chance to take a break without a long-term child care commitment.
  • Child care experience varies, and babysitters are not always qualified.
  • May not be available for regular long-term care or longer hours.

Choosing a carer or child care centre

After you decide on the type of child care you want, you will need to choose a carer or child care centre. Use our online child care search to find child care in your area or near you.

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