Childminders Vs Nannies - The Pros And Cons

Advantages of childminders:

Tend to be mums so they are experienced and confident Will have been on a childminding training course, some provide early years education and can accept the nursery grant for three and four year olds Inspected by OFSTED every two years to ensure high standards and to check the home is safe and well-equipped Affordably priced Childcare in their home means yours is tidy when you get back from work! Usually look after more than one child – up to three under five and up to three under eight – which means built-in playmates. These friendships can last years Often have a reciprocal arrangement with another childminder to provide sickness and holiday cover Your children can be cared for together.

Know the local area really well and will take your child out and about to playgroups and activities If you are eligible for Working Tax Credit you can claim back up to 70% of fees Most childminders are very flexible, some even offer overnight stays Home childcarers are a new category, registered to care for your child in your home, even during evenings or weekends.

Disadvantages of childminders:

Getting yourself and your children ready and out of the house in the morning Dropping off and collecting adds stress at times of day when you and the children are likely to be tired and grumpy The childminder sets the activities and plans the day, you have less control You pay fees per child i.e. double fees for two children You may need alternative care if the childminder is ill or on holiday You can’t use an agency so you have to do the legwork and interviewing Those with several children in their care may be constantly on the hoof collecting and dropping off at nurseries and school; quite tiring for little children.

Advantages of nannies

Usually have a professional childcare qualification and at least two years’ experience (always follow up all references) Will be able to offer one-to-one attention to your child Will provide you with a tailor-made service to suit your schedule You decide how your child will be looked after You don’t need to get the children ready in the morning Nannies tidy the kitchen and children’s rooms and look after their laundry, some do general housework too May be able to do evening babysitting at short notice Will look after your child when they’re ill You pay a flat wage rather than an amount per child Live-in nannies are less likely to leave suddenly as your home is their home Not always expensive, a nanny-share can cost the same as some childminders When the children start school you can keep your nanny by finding a family to share her with Nanny agencies know how to match personalities and in the unlikely event that it doesn’t work out, they will find you a replacement. (Check the small print!)

Disadvantages of nannies

The cost, live-out nannies are the most expensive form of childcare Extra heating, phone and food costs You may need to provide a car, insurance is expensive, particularly for nannies under 21 or from non-EU countries You need a separate bedroom and bathroom for a live-in nanny, you might miss your privacy too You must do tax and NIC paperwork, or employ someone else to do it You have to take time off if the nanny is ill Not OFSTED-registered or inspected and you can’t claim costs under Working Tax Credit We ran an article entitled Nannies versus Nursery a while ago, which was just as interesting. An eye opener. Do go and read it on


Leaving your baby to go back to work or study is always a wrench. By choosing individual childcare – a nanny, childminder, au pair or mother’s help –your child continues to enjoy home comforts while you’re at work. Some parents just have a gut feeling that nursery care is too hectic or impersonal. Forming a close relationship with a caregiver is vital for a baby’s personality and social growth. Children need a sensitive and responsive person who they can trust. Nannies can be expensive but if you have more than one child under five, double nursery fees may well cost the same or more. Nanny-sharing is increasingly popular, especially now so many parents are choosing to work part-time. Others swear by childminders. Some are accredited to provide early years education so they provide the best of both worlds; educational play in an intimate setting.

Whatever your circumstances, or your point of view, here’s our guide to one-to-one childcare options.

First stop:

Step One Which best describes your circumstances?
A ‘I need all-day care for a baby or child under three.’
Options: Nanny, nanny share, childminder

B ‘I’m at home in the daytime but I need an extra pair of hands. It would be nice to be able to leave the baby at home while I pop to the shops or collect the children.’

Options: Mother’s help or au pair

C ‘I need somebody to take and collect the children from nursery or school, and look after them until I get home. I’ll need longer days in the school holidays too.’

Options: childminder, mother’s help, au pair, nanny or nanny share
D ‘I work during the evenings or at weekends. I need a competent, flexible carer, maybe even someone who could stay all night.’

Options: Live-in nanny, childminder, home childcarer (see childminders). For school age children: au pair

Step Two Need to know: Hours and Costs
Natty nannies

Come top of the pile in terms of cost. Live-out earn £350-400 pw net, live-in earn £250-£300 pw net. (XXthese are London prices, check for your own area!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) A nanny share means you split the wage with another family. A daily nanny with her own child costs around the same as a live-in nanny, maybe less. You pay NIC and tax on top of wages, add upwards of £100 per week. Average working day is 10-10.5 hours, as an employee she is entitled to four weeks paid holiday a year. Holidays taken with you don’t count towards this, bank holidays do. Nannies shared between more than two families must register as a childminder.

Cheerful childminders

Charge around £3-5 per hour and work from their home. Self-employed so you have no tax or NIC responsibility. If you’re eligible for Working Tax Credit scheme you can claim up to 70% of the cost 0845 609 5000 Some are accredited to provide early years education and accept the nursery education grant for three and four year olds. You pay when you are on holiday or if your child is ill but not when they are on holiday (apart from bank holidays) or ill. Usually supply food, nappies etc.

Marvellous mother’s help

Provide a mix of childcare and housework, beware, they are hard to find. A competent mother’s help will probably try to find a job as a nanny; the pay is better and there is less housework! Typically this is an ex-au pair who doesn’t have formal training, or it could also be a mature woman with grown up children, a young person with a qualification but no experience, or even a backpacking Aussie, Kiwi or South African. Live-out earn £5-£6 per hour, live-in anywhere from £90-200+ per week, depending on hours and duties. Not suitable for long periods of unsupervised sole care of children under three. You pay tax and NIC on wages over £95 per week (on wages up to £150 that doesn’t work out to be much).

Adaptable au pairs

Au pairs are 17-27 year olds who come from abroad to live with you and learn English. You give them full board and lodging plus £50-75pw. They work for up to five hours a day, five days a week. Typical duties include light housework and care of school-age children. Don’t even think about using an au pair as regular carer for a child under three. They’re not trained and they won’t be able to cope. Au pairs usually stay for between 6 months and one year, they’re not allowed to stay more than two years. Au pairs must be nationals of any country in the EU plus Andorra, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Macedonia, Malta, Monaco, Poland, Romania, San Marino, Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Turkey. Male au pairs are on the increase, latest figures show 13% are boys.

By Families SW (London) Magazine, Featured in