During Pregnancy: How to Compare Childcare Options and Costs for Dads

By Mathew Miller, Sharon Perkins

Child care is expensive and can be difficult for Dads to navigate the decision making process. Paying someone else to care for your child 40 to 50 hours each week will become your new number-one expense. In fact, depending on where you live, it very well may cost you more than your mortgage or rent.

Taking care of a baby is big business, but it’s also a huge responsibility, so it comes with an equally huge financial burden.

Like when shopping for cars, you have many options when choosing childcare. Depending on whether you’re looking to buy a luxury car (an in-home nanny) or a two-door compact (your neighbor’s in-home day care) or something in between, the costs will vary depending on the services you’re promised.

Regardless of which childcare option you choose, create a contract (unless the provider has one of his own) to make sure you’re getting what you expect and that you won’t have unexpected costs when you pay the bill. Go over the following questions with your day-care provider and get the answers in writing:

  • Are you licensed to provide childcare in this state?

  • What training have you received in childcare and education? What about your staff?

  • Are you insured in case of accident?

  • Who is providing the food?

  • How often and on what day are you expecting payment?

  • Do you need my permission to take my child in a car?

  • How much notice do you need to give in order to terminate the agreement?

  • Do you frequently have visitors? Are they allowed to interact with the children?

  • Am I allowed to drop by unannounced to observe you with my child?

  • Will my child always be under your care or will your spouse/child/friend/family member be helping?

  • Do I have to pay when my child is sick or when we’re on vacation?

  • How do you discipline children?

  • What do you charge for days I need to drop my child off early/pick her up late?

  • What security provisions are in place?

  • Are you certified in both infant and child CPR?

  • Will you work with cloth diapers?

Outlining your expectations in writing reduces your fears and helps prevent any unexpected surprises or litigation down the road.

If after you check out the costs of day care you’re reconsidering quitting your job (or having your partner quit her job) and staying at home, be sure to carefully weigh the pros and cons. Staying at home is expensive in its own way and isn’t a decision to be made lightly.

Basics of private in-home day care for dads

A friend, neighbor, or local day-care provider who operates a facility out of the home likely will be your cheapest option, depending on the sophistication level of the facility. Expect to pay between $150 and $300 per week depending on your location. Many providers who work in their own homes are also watching their own children, which can reduce the cost to you.

Be sure to visit this type of day care on a regular weekday during business hours to see how things function during “high-volume times.” Some states require certifications for any day care providing care for a certain number of children, and you should research the regulations in your state and make sure the provider is compliant.

Basics of day-care center for dads

A day-care center, also sometimes called corporate day care, is any facility that accommodates many children and employs multiple staff members to care for a wide age range of children. Depending on the facility and the qualifications of the people it employs, this service can cost between $200 and $500 per week.

For instance, if the day care has child-development specialists on staff and a play facility that pulls out all the punches, costs will be higher than at a basic facility.

Make sure the child-to-adult ratio at the facility meets accepted guidelines. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends a 3:1 ratio for babies age 0 to 24 months; 4:1 for 25 to 30 months; 5:1 for 31 to 35 months; 7:1 for 3-year-olds; and 8:1 for 4- to 5-year-olds.

Basics of your own in-home nanny for dads

Paying someone to come into your home to provide full-time childcare for your child and your child alone is a custom and very expensive option. For many parents, the peace of mind involved in this setup is worth every penny, especially when you factor in the time, gas, and stress saved by not having to take your child to the sitter every day.

Costs typically range from $400 to $800 per week, depending on your location, expectations of the care provider, the provider’s experience level, and the number of hours the provider is expected to be in your home.