Daycare Vs. Stay-At-Home Parenting – Which Is Better?

You may love spending your entire day with your adorable newborn, but as the end of your maternity leave approaches, you may be facing the dilemma of opting for daycare vs. stay-at-home care.

Given our modern-day lifestyle, choosing between your career and taking care of your baby is not easy. You may wrongly equate prioritizing your career with neglecting your child and feel guilty about it. On the other hand, quitting your job to bond with your baby may cause your partner to feel burdened with the financial responsibilities of the family and compromise the quality of life you can offer your child.

For starters, you should be fair to yourself and figure out what works best for you. The final decision, whether it is choosing to refocus on your career or be a stay-at-home mommy for your child, should be entirely yours. Despite all the advice you receive, your decision should not depend on others’ judgment as you may regret it in the long run.

Read on as we discuss the pros and cons of both options to help you arrive at an informed decision along with your partner.

In This Article

Day Care Vs Stay At Home–Common Concerns:

Weigh your decision on the basis of the following factors:

1. Financial Compulsions:

Image: IStock

Your financial requirements and commitments play a huge role in deciding whether or not you want to go back to work. Consider the following:

  • Daycare:Once you leave your baby in child care, you can resume work after your maternity leave. Being working parents adds to your income and boosts your family’s finances. An increase in the family income will help you provide better services and facilities for your baby. You can select the best daycare for your baby based on the cost and location so it is convenient for you. You will also be able to guarantee your child a good education.
  • Stay at home: You will become financially dependent on your spouse. Your family income will take a hit, and you may need to cut down on expenditures. Some moms start to feel like a burden since they are not contributing financially to the household. Some partners may also start to have resentment towards the woman for not contributing. Nonetheless, you can spend more quality family time.

protip_icon Do remember
Whichever option you choose, do not feel guilty about it. It is not an easy choice to make and so do what you feel will be best for you and your baby.

2. Desire To Witness Those Precious Moments:

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A major concern that you may have about going back to work is that you will miss the joy of watching your baby cross those initial developmental milestones. Consider the following:

  • Daycare: When you choose a daycare, it will mean you will not be present with your baby most of the time. Your baby will achieve most of her developmental milestones in the first few years of life. You will probably miss watching her sit up, crawl, walk, and speak for the first time.
  • Stay at home: If you choose to stay at home, you will probably be the first one to witness all your baby’s little achievements and get more bonding time. You will be motivating your baby when she struggles to crawl towards you the first time and hold her when she takes her first few steps and falls.

Roxane Maar, a mother, writer, and tech startup founder, shares the reason behind her unconventional choice not to enroll her daughters in daycare or nursery. She says, “I wanted them to have the opportunity to be deeply connected with their family in their first few years of life, to be in a stress-less environment, to be able to do things at their own pace, without being rushed or interfered with. I wanted them to be exposed to different cultures and languages; I wanted them to be close to nature (i).”

3. Making Your Child Independent And Social:

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Many people believe that a daycare helps a baby become social and develop independence. Consider the following:

  • Daycare: Your baby will learn how to stay away from you for long hours, without any anxiety. Your baby will also develop a routine for eating and sleeping on her own. At the daycare, your baby will be in the company of other babies and children that will boost their socialization skills. She will soon form her circle of friends and learn how to play and interact with people other than her parents.
  • Stay at home: As a stay at home mom, you will always be by your baby’s side, babysitting them. It can strengthen the bond you share with your baby, but your baby may not like the company of strangers and may feel uncomfortable in a social gathering. Also, it might restrict your flexibility to go out without the baby. Being around a child at home 24/7 can be very stressful and overwhelming. You can feel disconnected from other “adults”, and lose a sense of identity outside of being a parent.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is enrolling in a daycare harmful to children’s development?

The effect of daycare on a child’s development depends on the quality of care provided by the daycare program. High-quality daycare arrangements promote social and cognitive development and early learning. Meanwhile, poor-quality childcare can be unstimulating and present safety hazards (1).

2. Can attending a daycare affect my child’s attachment?

According to the available data, childcare does not necessarily affect the parent-child bond. Some studies show that childcare does not affect attachment, while others show that it could positively or negatively affect attachment. However, several studies show that mothers play a significant role in determining the quality of their bond with their children (1)

3. Are daycares stressful for toddlers?

Attending a daycare may be stressful for many toddlers since they are in a foreign environment and away from their primary caregivers. However, the stress will gradually decrease depending on the quality and structure of childcare provided.

4. Do babies feel abandoned at daycare?

Though separation from parents can initially be stressful, most children learn to cope with it over time and do not feel abandoned. Parents generally tend to feel more uneasy than children regarding the separation. However, it is advised for at least one parent to nurture the child at home for the first six months of life before enrolling them in childcare (2).

5. Is it better for a child to have a stay-at-home parent?

Evidence strongly suggests that having at least one stay-at-home parent in the first year of the child’s life can result in significant positive long-term outcomes for the child (3). However, in many families, the second parent’s income is essential for the smooth functioning of the family. Hence, based on your situation, you should make your decision regarding staying at home.

There are always two sides to every coin, and your priorities determine the verdict for daycare Vs stay at home for your child. While staying at home can ensure that you would witness every milestone your child reaches, it may also mean a financial crunch for your family. On the other hand, a daycare helps your child develop social skills faster, whereas infants at home may find it difficult to interact. Discuss with mothers from both sides to have a clear idea of the pros and cons and decide what works best for you and your baby.

Infographic: Day Care Vs. Stay At Home

Deciding between daycare and in-home childcare can be tricky. It’s important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each option and how they align with your circumstances and priorities. To assist you in making this decision, we have created an infographic outlining the pros and cons of both ways. Review this information and consider it as you decide.

daycare and stay at home pros and cons (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Do you want to know the differences between home daycare and child care centers? In this video, we’ll look at the pros and cons of each option to help you decide which is best for your family.

Personal Experience: Source


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development.
  2. The Abandoned Baby Syndrome.
  3. Eric Bettinger: Why Stay-at-Home Parents are Good for Older Children.
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