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

Image : Shutterstock

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.

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 a daycare, you will be able to resume work after your maternity leave is over. Your additional income will boost 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, one that is near your workplace too. 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.

2. Desire To Witness Those Precious Moments:

Image: iStock

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. 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.

3. Making Your Child Independent And Social:

Image: iStock

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

  • Daycare: Your baby will learn how to stay away from you for long hours, without any anxiety. Your baby will also learn how to eat and sleep on her own. At the daycare, your baby will be in the company of other babies and kids. 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. 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 curtail your freedom 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 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, these stress levels will gradually decrease depending on the quality 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.


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.

Was this article helpful?
The following two tabs change content below.

Mitha Shameer

Mitha is passionate about writing on topics related to women and children. She loves to present the brighter side of life to her readers in the form of her articles. She writes on games, stories, arts & craft, celebrations and more for MomJunction. When she isn't glued to online shopping websites, she loves reading books and watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

Aika Marchant

Aika Marchant is a marriage and family therapist, licensed in Texas and California. She specializes in trauma, couple therapy, and multicultural counseling. Her mother is a Japanese immigrant and her father is a white American. She grew up in Japan and moved to America when she was nine years old. Aika came from a family of teachers, so she initially...
View Profile