Nanny, grandma, day care, au pair: Which childcare option is best for you?

So here’s the good news: You have a lot of options when it comes to childcare options for your little one.

But each has its pluses and minuses—and the cost can vary wildly depending on where you live, so start asking around now about pricing. (Here’s a breakdown of average day care cost by state.)

We rounded up the 4 most common childcare options to help you decide which is best for your family.

The nanny

A photo posted by Maryann (@windycitynanny) on

The upside

Your little one gets the undivided attention of a childcare provider, and you can set the terms that work best for your family. Your nanny can come to your house, making it easier to get out the door in the morning. Since she’s around, you can negotiate light housekeeping duties when your baby is napping, which can help you stay on top of dishes, meals and even some errands. Lots of moms love knowing that their little one is in stable, loving hands. You can also try a nanny share, splitting the cost and coverage of childcare with another family.

But you should also know

You basically now have a full-time employee, which can be a big expense. ? Plus, you’re the one responsible for her training and all HR matters, so you’ll need to run a background check, make sure she’s first aid/CPR certified, file her taxes and provide cash for any enrichment activities (classes, toys, etc.) inside the home and out.

A family member

A photo posted by Lena� (@lenanova__) on

The upside

COST. Although some parents pay a family member for childcare, it’s almost always at a reduced cost, making this a seriously affordable option. You get the comfort of knowing that a family member is caring for your little one, which makes it a lot easier to stay focused at work.

But you should also know

When a family member, like your mother-in-law or sister, watches your child, things won’t always get done your way. Your mom might feel like she’s the farthest thing from your employee, so it can be more emotionally fraught to pass along your preferred menu options for baby or to suggests some activities other than another episode of Sesame Street. Try keeping things a bit more professional when you’re talking about childcare, and set ground rules from the get-go.

A day care center

The upside

Baby gets the benefit of lots of socialization, lots of stimulating activities and lots of loving caretakers. Since you’re sharing the cost of the facility and the ratio of children to caretakers is higher, this can be a more affordable option for a high-quality experience. Even run out of a home, a good day care center should be licensed (you can find ratings in your state) and should have guidebooks of policies and procedures to make it easier to deal with any issues that arise.

But you should also know

The quality of day care can very wildly, and so can the cost. It’s important to do your homework by checking Yelp reviews and licensing status, randomly dropping in and talking to parents in your area for the behind-the-scenes scoop. The churn of teachers at some day care centers can be off-putting to some parents looking for a more stable option for their kids. Some facilities can be more expensive than nanny care in some cities.

That au pair life

The upside

At $18,000 a year for 45 hours of childcare a week (regardless of where you live), this can be a more affordable option to parents in some high-expense areas. Au pairs, through a program run through the Department of State, are international young people (largely women) ages 18 to 26, who match with American families through agencies like Cultural Care. An au pair lives with you for 12 months and shares their culture and life with your family. It can feel like having a big sister watching your kids, and the flexibility is unmatched.

But you should also know

You have to provide a separate bedroom for the au pair, and are expected to treat her like a member of the family (paying for all her meals as well). This is an added expense, and can be a burden to families who wish to have more alone time after the au pair’s work is done. Some families won’t be comfortable with having another person living in their home, and if for some reason it doesn’t work out with the au pair, you’ll have to go through a rematching process, which can be awkward and painful for some families.

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14 sweet 'just thinking of you' gifts for every mama

A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.


Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.


Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.


Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!


Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.


Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.


'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."


Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.


Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.


Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!


Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.


Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.


Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.


Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


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I personally found myself wanting more core support in my early postpartum months.

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It's my personal opinion that this belly deserves some love. So starting with my second pregnancy, I've relied on Belly Bandit's postpartum belly bands (which I own in three sizes) to help support my core, reduce swelling, and begin to activate my midsection after nine months of being stretched to the max.

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