Au Pairs vs. Nannies vs. Daycare

Au Pairs vs. Nannies vs. Daycare

Au pairs, nannies, and daycare centers, oh my! There are many considerations to weigh when deciding which childcare option is best for you.

Our comparison below examines how the different alternatives fulfill the most pressing needs of today’s modern family.

Convenient Location

There’s no place like home. With live-in childcare provided by an au pair, you no longer have to juggle coordinating the nanny’s schedule or a nanny share, and you can skip the rush of daycare drop off and pick up.

Adult to Child Ratio

Your child will receive more focused attention with an au pair or nanny, as the ratio is based solely on the size of your family. Daycares have higher caregiver to child ratios that may be good for children as they approach school age but can be overwhelming for some younger children.

Flexible Schedule

Au pairs work on a child care schedule that you decide and set with them, giving you flexibility week to week. Most nannies prefer to have a set schedule and may have personal commitments that might conflict with your needs. Daycares typically have set schedules and may charge extra fees for late pickups or schedule changes.

Cultural Exchange

Au pairs are unmatched when it comes to cross cultural and language learning opportunities for your children and your family. While this is central to the au pair program, it is a benefit that can be very difficult – and expensive! – to find with the typical nanny or daycare.


All au pairs complete training in their home country through Virtual Au Pair Academy. Au pairs receive up-to-date training in CPR, first aid training, and study child development topics right before they join your family. Nannies typically have no formal training requirements and the training requirements for daycare staff can vary significantly depending on their location.


AuPairCare is regulated by the U.S. Department of State and we follow strict guidelines set by this governing body. Independent nannies have no guidelines, nanny agencies are often self-regulated, and daycare centers follow state regulations that can vary widely (but typically include at least annual inspections). We also provide 24/7 local support for all of our families.


Since au pairs provide live-in childcare, they are able to help with things many other caregivers may not, like preparing children’s meals, assisting them in getting ready for the day or for bedtime, taking them on outings including lessons and play dates, back to school transition and more!

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