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Nanny or day care? Things to consider before making the choice

Annual child care and college costs are pretty similar these days, at least $10,000.

On average every day, about 12 million children younger than 5 need someone to care for them while their parents are working. But the day care decision isn't as easy as the ABCs, and child's play isn't cheap.

When it comes time for parents to head back to work, the question becomes where to leave the kids: With a nanny or day care?

There are pros and cons to each option. A lot of parents think about it way before their kids are born, but it's not so easy to find the right child care.

"Finding the right person who is going to be in your home and really help raise your children is difficult," Marcy Kornfeld said.

"For me it was just the fact that they're going to be running around with kids their age," Hillarie Ritch said.

Day care costs about $9,500 a year. A nanny could set you back an average of $28,000.

Day care provides socialization, trained teachers and is regulated by the government. But day care has more germs and more sickness.

Nannies give more one-on-one attention and can help around the house. But they're a lot more expensive.

Hillarie said her daughter Elle loves her day care.

"She's very socialized," she said.

Though Ritch and Kornfeld made different choices about child care, both mothers relied on referrals, tours, agencies and reputable networking sites to find their fit.

"As long as they're loved and happy and fed and learn and changing, my husband and I couldn't ask for anything more," Kornfeld said.
 
Some other things to consider when choosing child care are what type of training the teachers have? Is the nanny connected with a network of backup babysitters, in case she calls in sick? And does the nanny have car seats so she can drive the kids to activities?