I'm always surprised by mothers who assume that a nanny is a better child care choice than a daycare center for their infant. Maybe they feel this way because a nanny is usually much more expensive. To me, there are important differences of a nanny versus daycare that should be considered before you decide.
Nanny Advantages. Since I never used a nanny personally, it seems only fair to begin with the pros of a nanny. These are the one-on-one attention your child will receive, and the consistency of a single caregiver for as long as you employ her. Many nannies also provide household services, such as cleaning the kitchen after meals, light laundry or even tidying. Your child won't be exposed to other kids' germs in the first years of life, meaning fewer winter colds. Nannies may be more flexible with hours than a daycare, if you have to work late or even be away overnight for work travel. Finally, a nanny cares for your child in your own home -- you don't have to pack up your child and the baby gear every day for drop off at daycare center.
Daycare Advantages. On the other hand, daycare centers provide your child with exposure to multiple, caring adults rather than just one nanny. There's more supervision of how your child's caregiver is interacting with him -- even with a nanny cam, you only know so much about how your nanny behaves when you're not there. Daycare centers socialize your child, help him build relationships with other children and teach routines for sleep, eating and good manners. You also may enjoy getting to know the community of other dual-income families who use your child's daycare.
With a daycare, you avoid the hassle of dealing with your nanny's life crises, whether that's getting sick, a car breaking down or other emergencies that prevent her from showing up for work. (Not to mention the expense of the nanny tax.) And your child gets to build immunity to colds early in life, so by the time he starts kindergarten, he's less likely to be home sick from school. Typically, daycare centers must meet government standards and pass licensing inspections. Daycare is also more affordable child care than a nanny, and introduces you to a steady supply of potential weekend babysitters.
As you can see, there are many factors to consider in choosing between a nanny and daycare. Ultimately, the best choice will depend on the care providers available in your community. An excellent nanny is always better than a lousy daycare center; and an excellent daycare is always superior to a bad nanny!