Childcare Costs

Written by Meg Haley
Published February 8, 2019
the costs of various kinds of childcare and daycare the costs of various kinds of childcare and daycare

Daycare Costs How Much?

Ok, so did you just have a baby? Are you still basking in the newborn glow, casually scouting out daycare costs on the internet? Welcome. Take a deep breath. It’s expensive. On the one hand, your reaction may be along the lines of "They sleep all day! What am I paying you for?!." However, on the other hand, you may also be thinking, "It’s my precious baby. Take all my money and take the best care of this incredible being." Maybe you’re thinking both at the same time – we hear you!

Regardless of your mental state (no judgment, babies will do a number on your sanity), childcare costs are high. Until the federal government does something to adjust them, we parent types have to work with what we’ve got.

Luckily, even those of us who have to be working parents do have a few options:

Costs of Traditional Daycare

Depending on where you live, you’ll have a good handful of traditional daycares to choose from. Some will be national chains, some locally owned, and even maybe some run out a person’s home. All will be licensed with the state, (do your due diligence on any place you’re going to leave your child!) but will set their rates. Because infants require a lot of time and one-on-one care with feedings and diaper changes, the costs for full-time infant care is highest.

So, if your baby is starting in a daycare setting after the traditional 12 weeks of maternity leave, expect to pay $250-300 per week.

Church Program/ Mother’s Day Out

If your church (or one near you) has a childcare program, it’s worth investigating. Church-based or Mother’s Day Out programs are often more flexible on hours and days than traditional daycare. If your work is also flexible, this is a great option—so you’re only paying for the one, two or three days per week you need childcare. For example, you might only pay $100 per month for sending your toddler one day each week. Even if you need full-time care, most churches are more affordable than private daycare facilities.

Montessori School

While the monthly fees will probably be on par with traditional daycare costs, Montessori schools follow specific educational philosophies and have either national or international accreditations. Depending on where you live, there are growing numbers of public Montessori programs, and some start as early as 6 or 12 weeks. Plus, most will at least have programs that go through a traditional kindergarten year, so your baby could go to one school (of course different classrooms) for her first five years or more. Building a relationship with a school for that length of time is a great asset that you can’t attach a price tag too.

Local Nanny

Websites like Care.com make finding a local nanny so easy. Everything from photos and reviews, to background checks, and a payment portal are available from your smartphone. A nanny is a great option for many reasons:

  • if you have a child with a compromised immune system or special needs and believe they will be most comfortable and safest at home;
  • if you work hours that don’t match up with traditional daycares or schools;
  • if you simply like the idea of your baby having more one on one attention.

The costs associated with nannies varies a ton, based on age and experience level, hours and more. To save on nanny costs, many parents have entered what’s called a nanny share—where you find another family looking for similar traits in a caregiver, and you split the costs.

Au Pair

Did you know that au pairs were still a thing? It’s true! Lots of families go through an au pair service and find a great new (adult) member of their family, who becomes the primary caregiver for the kiddos while parents maintain focus on careers. There are websites like www.aupairinamerica.com that vet potential au pairs and provide all the necessary guidance on how to make this live-in childcare option a reality. Associated costs include an annual fee of around $9,000 and a weekly stipend you pay to the au pair, of around $195.75. Don’t get sticker shock! Remember: this extra set of hands will be available 24 hours a day—even sick days and holidays!

Career Shift

Another option that’s becoming more and more realistic for many industries is a shift in what your work life entails. If the above expenses are sounding a lot like what you bring home in a month, full-time daycare may not make sense for your family. If you’re working in a corporate setting, is working from home, even a couple of days a week an option for you? What about a job share? Perhaps this could be a motivator for taking a break from work and going back to school online while you remain the primary caregiver for your new bundle. It may seem scary to consider a big change when you’ve just undergone a big change, but for some, it’s a catalyst for huge happiness.

At the end of the day, kids are expensive, especially babies. Keep in mind: these costs can be temporary. Once that little bundle is five or six, a public school is an option! However, you may want to maintain a relationship with your past daycare or childcare program, in case they offer holiday care for days when your school is out of session. No matter which route you choose, we hope you’ll find the right childcare for your family that will fit into your budget.