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Nursery, nanny or Grandma - what kind of care for your baby?

Most people will agree with the statement that before the child reaches the age when he can go to a kindergarten, the best for him is to stay at home with his mum and dad. However, not every parent can and wants to wait three years before going back to work. Who should then be entrusted with the care of your baby? Learn benefits and advantages of three types of care.
Paulina Heromińska | 23 March 2014
MSc. Marta Cholewińska - Dacka
psychologist,  coach 

Situation in the employment market is not easy for young women. They are not readily employed; potential employers are often worried they will lose their employee to motherhood. Mums of babies know that the sooner they return to work after birth, the better - every longer absence threatens their employment. And a purely financial aspect is also of importance, as one salary in the family is not enough. So the parents are now faced with a painful and difficult decision of leaving their child under someone else's care for most of the day.

Three the most popular forms of child care before kindergarten are: nursery, nanny or somebody from the closest family, usually grandparents.

Before making that decision you should consider all pros and cons, as each of these options comes with its flaws and merits.

Financial aspects

When money is not an issue in the family, you can forgo this aspect. However, when you barely make ends meet, this is also one of important factors to consider.

  • A nanny is certainly the most expensive form of care. Nanny's salary depends on many factors: working hours, average salary in a given region of the country, satisfaction with her work, and experience. 

  • The nursery is a medium cost. The average expense in Poland is several hundred zlotys per month.

  • With grandparents, it is all individual. Previously, nobody would even consider paying a grandma for looking after her grandchildren. Nowadays, it all depends on the arrangements between the child's grandparents and parents. Sometimes, the child's parents feel better when they are able to express their gratitude financially, or want to remain "in charge". As they pay, they can also demand. Usually, however, grandparents' help costs nothing and this is one of the reasons why it is so willingly chosen by families.

What questions should you ask a candidate for a nanny?

Financial requirements
It is better to arrange a salary and responsibilities at a very beginning (additional cooking or shopping), as your expectations may differ too much for the interview to continue.

If she had looked after children before, this should not be any problem.

It is a good thing to ask the candidate what she likes doing, how she spends her time, if she has any children of her own. When talking about herself, she can say a lot what she has to offer when looking after the baby. You would certainly like your baby to spend a lot of time outdoor, and the nanny to read, sing and "talk" to him. If her favorite pastime is watching TV, this bodes ill.

Ask if she knows basic first aid principles, what she will do when the baby chokes or scalds himself.

Education and discipline
Talk about methods of education that she uses. What she will do when the child refuses to eat, does not want to sleep, takes other child's spade in a sandbox. Consider her methods, whether they comply with your approach.

Spending time
Ask her to describe an exemplary day spent with your baby. This way you will learn how much she knows about children, as well as what are her ideas about her work.

Be patient
Each employment interview is a great stress, and a person performing poorly in the interview can prove to be an ideal nanny. It is good when the child is somewhere near, observe her reactions and interest in him.


Not each of these forms of care is readily available, for various reasons.

  • A number of places in a nursery is limited. So it may happen that your baby is not accepted.

  • Problems with availability of grandparents' care can have various reasons. Not every elderly person is in a condition allowing them to look after a small child for several hours a day. On the other hand, grandparents are often still active professionally, have their own things to do, and they will gladly look after grandchildren on Saturday, but not every day. And there is one more thing: grandparents can live in the other part of the country, or even of the world, and they cannot help you even when they want.

  • The nanny is relatively easy to find form of care, particularly in larger cities. You can even find nanny agencies there, which will help you to find an appropriate person.

Baby's age and his temperament

A very small baby is too young for a nursery. Also, a lot depends on the baby's character and temperament.

  • The smaller the child, the more he needs a close, tender contact with one person who will give him their whole attention. Therefore, an institution such as a nursery is not appropriate for a small baby. Even when it is difficult financially, maybe it will be possible to find a nanny or ask the grandma to care of the baby, and later transfer him to a nursery.

  • Children that are open, friendly, flexible, have a better chance to fit in at the nursery. However when your child is timid, does not like new things, he may not accept his stay in the nursery. In such case, a better care will be provided by a beloved grandma or warm nanny, who, together with his parents, will help him to find his way in the world 

When he is ill

Small babies are often ill. What type of care should be chosen for babies with lower immunity?

  • It is not always possible for mum to take time off from work for child's illness. And the ill child cannot go to the nursery, for his own good and for safety of other children. So when the child is often ill, the nursery is not a good solution, unless there is a grandma available to stay with the baby when he is ill.

  • You must consider the fact that even a healthy baby will fall ill more often through contact with other children at the nursery. So when you are not ready to take time off, it is better to consider a nanny already from the start, because she will be at your disposal and available to look after the baby even when he is ill.

Requirements and expectations

We want our child to feel as good as possible during our absence. What can we expect?

  • A nursery is an institution subject to some limits, e.g., due to the number of carers. You cannot expect anybody to give their whole attention individually to our baby all day long. Some things are done at a command, and according to a set rhythm which not always conforms to the rhythm of your baby. Also do not expect any special menu, due to a number of children in a nursery it is us who must conform to its rules.

  • When we employ a nanny, we can dictate our requirements. It is good to communicate clearly our requirements and expectations already at the beginning. There are as many ideas about upbringing as there are parents, so it is better to inform that you do not want the baby to use a pacifier already at the beginning. When you are not happy with one nanny, you can try to find another. But it is not possible to look for another carer in the nursery or grandma, so here your options are more limited.

  • With grandma, it is all individual. It all depends on your mutual relations, what kind of person she is, how much your opinions on bringing up children differ. Grandmas usually have fixed ideas about that, and it may be difficult to explain to them that in our opinion there is harm in that one candy. It is also more difficult to demand anything when you do not pay for that care. This is a delicate issue, so when you differ significantly, you must think it over thoroughly whether the grandma really is the best option.


We want our baby to have a tender and professional care during our absence. This is a very complex issue.

  • It cannot be denied that institutions such as nurseries are competent, although one does not always equals another, and before you enrol your baby anywhere, you should perform a thorough review. Ask at a playground, walk around, talk to parents leaving it. Maybe you can see a nursery playground from outside? Check how the babies are treated there.

  • A nanny will want to appear at her best during the interview, and it is difficult to learn a lot about anybody in such a short time. It is worth working with an agency for nannies that will perform an initial selection, check references, etc. You can also ask your friends and acquaintances. Maybe somebody's child is going to a kindergarten and his nanny is looking for a job? Maybe you meet such a person at a playground? Then you can see yourself if you like her way of looking after children.

  • In this respect grandma is the best option. She raised up your child's mum or dad, this surely is the best recommendation? She loves her grandchild, and of all vitamins, vitamin L is most needed by every child.

Selecting appropriate care for your baby is a difficult task. You must consider all aspects. From now on your child will stay with other people, you must be sure he is safe, calm and happy. Never put aside making such decision until the last moment. The baby also needs time to get used to a new situation. You cannot meet candidates for a nanny and employ one on one day, and then leave her with the baby for 9 hours on the  next day. A little baby is a very emotional, as well as unpredictable being, he must slowly get accustomed to a new situation. Sometimes, one type of care does not work, so it is better to have some time for possible changes.

MSc. Marta Cholewińska - Dacka
psychologist, coach

How to prepare a baby for parting with his mum?

Remember, the baby must be prepared for parting with his mum gradually. At 7–8 month, first signs of so-called separation anxiety appear, and it may appear with different intensity and at various times up to second year of age. So when the separation concerns a child of that age, then you must approach it very carefully.

It is good, if the mum starts to prepare the child for her longer absences sufficiently early, before she parts with the baby for longer. When the baby is small - a few months old, then it is usually easier for him to get used to mum's absence. And when the child is 7 months old or more, you can start with playing peek-a-boo,  then go out for a few minutes, and then for a short walk or quick shopping. The aim is to gradually accustom the baby to your absences.

Never disappear in such a way that the baby does not notice that you left. You should always tell your baby that mum's going out and will be back soon. You do not have to tell him when, because small babies do not have a sense of time. This behaviour gives a child a sense of security and awareness that his mum will be back, just as she said. Children are afraid that when their mum leaves, she disappears forever. When you tell him that you go out, and not disappear suddenly, it will be easier for him to get used to this situation and calm down quicker. The mum also must be sure it is time to part in this way. When the child senses her uncertainty, then the parting will be harder. The mum should remember not to show her uncertainty or nervousness.

Certainly, the time of parting is not easy, neither for the mum nor for the baby. However, it is necessary for both parties. For the mum, for her good psychological condition (not mentioning the financial needs) and the baby will gain more independence and self-assurance spending this time not only with his mum. So do not be afraid of partings, but think them over thoroughly and conduct them wisely.











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