Childcare Costs

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The cost of childcare is a hot topic for many parents. We all want the best care for our children, but many parents cannot afford the high prices associated with that. Childcare costs vary greatly, depending on factors such as where you live, what type of childcare you choose, the age of your child, and how many hours a week you are paying for childcare. 

What Is the Cost of Traditional Daycare?

There are several different options when considering childcare and related costs.

Traditional Daycare for Babies and Toddlers

The cost of daycare varies by location, quality, and age of children. Childcare for babies and toddlers is more expensive than childcare for older kids because younger kids need more hands-on care and there must be more childcare providers in each room.

The average cost of center-based daycare in the United States is $11,896 per year ($991 a month) for infants and $10,158 per year ($847 a month) for toddlers. Prices for infant daycare can range from $5,760 to $20,880 a year ($480 to $1,740 monthly), according to ChildCare Aware of America.

Location matters when considering costs. Parents in cities like New York or Seattle may report even higher costs than the state averages listed above. In San Francisco, costs can go as high as $2,450 a month for infant care.

The most expensive states for daycare are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, and Washington, with costs of over $14,000 a year for infant daycare.

Traditional Daycare for Preschoolers

Costs of daycare for preschool-age children are generally lower, averaging $9,254 a year ($771 a month). In 2014, the five most expensive states for preschool-age kids in a childcare center were Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, and Rhode Island. (The District of Columbia was more expensive than any single state, with average yearly costs being $17,842 a year.)

To find out more about daycare options and costs in your area, contact your local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency.

What Is the Cost of In-Home Care?

Consider these factors when thinking about hiring in-home care for your child.

In-Home Care for Babies and Toddlers

Similar to traditional daycare, costs of in-home daycare depend on the age of your child and where you live. The size of the facility and whether or not it is licensed may also impact cost. Some in-home daycare providers charge very little if they are a friend or neighbor, where others run more like a business and may charge as much as traditional daycare.

The average in-home daycare charges about $9,027 a year ($752 a month) for infants and $8,246 a year ($688 a month) for toddlers.

Prices for infant daycare start at $4,183 a year and go up to $13,184 a year ($349 to $1,099 a month), though costs will likely be higher in large cities.

The most expensive states for home daycare for infants and toddlers are Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia, with costs of over $10,000 a year ($833 a month).

In-Home Care for Preschoolers

For preschool-age children, the average cost for home daycare is $7,976 a year ($665 a month). The price for in-home care can vary widely between states, but an in-home care facility is generally less expensive than center-based care in the same area.

What Is the Cost of a Nanny?

Hiring a full-time nanny for your child may be the most expensive option. Depending on where you live, how many children you have, and what the competition is for qualified candidates, nannies typically cost between $11 and $25 an hour. According to a 2017 survey, the average hourly wage for nannies is $19.14.

Some nannies also get benefits, such as employer-paid health insurance, paid holidays, vacation, and sick days.

Keep in mind that when you hire a nanny you become an employer, and the U.S. government expects you to pay your nanny's Social Security taxes.

Cut Costs With a Nanny Share

A nanny share is a childcare arrangement where one nanny cares for the child or children of two or more families at the same time. A nanny share is an alternative childcare option to daycare or hiring a nanny for one family. You can have a “full” nanny share, which means that one nanny takes care of two families’ kids at the same time without any individualized care (easier to figure out financially, but not always practical). Another option is a “partial” share, when a nanny takes care of two families’ children sometimes individually and sometimes together. 

In a nanny share, the childcare costs are cut because the nanny is sharing time between the children. For example, if you pay a nanny $15 an hour to watch one child, you may pay $11 an hour during share hours. Nanny shares may be full-time or part-time.

What Is the Cost of a Babysitter?

What to pay a babysitter also depends on various factors, such as how many children are being watched, the experience level of the babysitter, if the babysitter is doing additional work, and if the babysitter is being hired for a special occasion, such as a holiday or a vacation.

Should a Relative Watch Your Child?

Many families choose to have relatives watch their children to help with costs and to provide the opportunity to strengthen relationships. However, having a relative babysit your child doesn't necessarily mean there are no costs. Some family members want to be paid as if they are providing in-home childcare. Other members may provide the service for free, but the parent should still be responsible for purchasing all related care items and food.

A Word From Verywell

With so many childcare options, there is sure to be one that is right for your family. Whichever type of childcare you ultimately choose, make sure you are comfortable with the costs. Do your research and figure out your budget before making this very important decision.

4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Administration for Children & Families. Ratios and group sizes. 2020.

  2. Children's Council of San Francisco. Child care costs. 2020.

  3. Child Care Aware of America. Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2015 Report. 2015.

  4. International Nanny Association. 2017 INA Salary and Benefits Survey. 2017.

Additional Reading

By Jill Ceder, LMSW, JD
Jill Ceder, LMSW, JD is a psychotherapist working with women, children, adolescents, couples and families.