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Everything You Need to Know About Choosing an In-Home Daycare
Updated on
March 7, 2023

Everything You Need to Know About Choosing an In-Home Daycare

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Everything You Need to Know About Choosing an In-Home Daycare.
Everything You Need to Know About Choosing an In-Home Daycare

What if you want a childcare solution that’s budget-friendly and more lowkey? In-home daycares (aka family daycares) are inside a caregiver’s home and typically serve a smaller number of kids than center-based programs. They might be the right solution for you, but they can be hard to find. We put together some tips to help you along your search and figure out if a family daycare is right for you.

What Is In-Home Daycare?

An in-home daycare is one based out of a caregiver’s home, instead of a daycare center. Some families prefer a home daycare because of it’s home-like environment and because there are significantly less children which means their child can have more one-on-one care. In-home daycare also tends to cost less than a center-based daycare or hiring a nanny. Since the daycare is in the caregiver’s home, there is usually a separate, dedicated space or room set up for the daycare.

How to Choose an In-Home Daycare

Start early: As with any childcare option, it’s best to begin your search sooner than later because many providers have waiting lists.

Read reviews: Look for local parent groups on Facebook or search childcare websites such as Winnie or Wonderschool to see what other families are saying about the daycare.

Interview the caregiver: When meeting with the provider, don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s a good idea to ask the same things you would at a center-based daycare. This is a great time to find out more information about licensing, ratios, what their typical daily routine looks like, who else will be in the home while your child is there and what their safety practices are. You may also want to ask about the provider’s curriculum. We love this helpful checklist from Child Care Aware to make sure you hit all the important points.

Visit the home in person: Once you find a home daycare you like, plan a visit. While you’re touring the home, keep an eye out for how the caregiver interacts with the children and how clean and childproofed the home is.

What to Look for In a Family Daycare

Make sure that the daycare provider you choose is licensed. “I’m not saying that programs that aren’t licensed aren’t quality, but we don’t know,” says Michelle McCready, chief of policy at Child Care Aware of America, a program with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “With a license, at least there’s some oversight.” While a license means that a center meets the state requirements for safety, accreditations are run by private agencies that have more stringent criteria. It’s important to note, very few daycare providers are accredited.

How to Find a Family Daycare

If you’re looking for a family daycare, there are a few websites you can use to help with your search. Child Care Aware has a searchable list of local Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) agencies. They also have a comprehensive guide on what to look for when visiting programs. You can also check out providers accredited by the National Association for Family Child Care.

Pros and Cons of In-Home Daycare

Is an in-home daycare the right choice for your family? Here are some pros and cons to consider and help you make your decision.

Pros of In-Home Daycare:

Personalized Care: In-home daycares are a more intimate setting than a big center-based daycare. With that comes more personal care and connection since there are less children.

Lower caregiver-to-child ratio: Less children per caregiver means your child will get more one-on-one attention.

Home-like environment: Since the daycare is in an actual home, it might feel more comfortable for a child who hasn’t had much experience being cared for by people other than their parents.

Great for siblings: In center-based daycare, children are normally divided by age groups and there may not be open spots for both of your children. In-home daycares are a great option for siblings since they can stay together.

Flexible hours: Since the daycare is at the provider’s home, they may be more flexible with drop-off and pick-up times than a daycare center.

Cons of In-Home Daycare:

Small: The actual home may be on the smaller side, and since there is most likely only one or two caregivers, the overall capacity for in-home daycares is low which can lead to longer waitlists

Different age groups: Most in-home daycare centers care for a mixed-age group of children, which is generally not a concern (it’s actually very Montessori). However, some parents may prefer their child to be with other children their age for safety reasons.

Less structure: This is not necessarily true for all home daycares as some may have a curriculum, but if a structured schedule is especially important to you, you’ll want to make sure to ask the caregiver about their daily routine during your interview with them.


Briana Engelbrecht

Assistant Editor

Briana Engelbrecht is the Assistant Editor at Babylist, where she brings her passion for early childhood development and experience as a mom of two to Babylist articles and product guides. A former preschool teacher, she loves children’s picture books, cats, plants and making things.

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