nanny vs nursery debate

The Nanny vs Nursery Debate

Deciding between hiring a nanny and sending your child to nursery can be a real head-scratcher, mainly because there is no right or wrong answer. We all have different priorities and what works for one parent might not work for another. Ultimately all you can do is weigh up the pros and cons. To get the facts, we sat down with childcare expert Rachel Waddilove and child psychologist Devika Singh, and asked them to talk us through the pluses and minuses of the nanny vs nursery debate. Here’s what they had to say.

Rachel Waddilove is one of the UK’s most sought after gurus in the care and well being of babies and young children. She is also the author of a variety of parenting books, including The Baby Book. Here she explains the pros and cons of having a nanny.



More flexibility
For busy families where both parents are working, nannies provide a certain amount of convenience that you wouldn’t get with a nursery. For example, if you’re held up at work, you can ask your nanny to stay for an extra half hour. Likewise, if your child is ill you have someone trusted you could leave him or her at home with.

Familiar surroundings
Children like being in their own surroundings and the fact that they don’t have to rush out the door to nursery in the morning is a good thing. This is especially true if your child has had a bad night and the last thing they want is to be surrounded by lots of other children in a place that isn’t home.

Children like stability
Your child will get to know one person and develop a bond with them. They will become a constant in their life and a third person they can rely on, next to mummy and daddy. This is dependent of course on you employing a nanny who fits well with your family and stays long-term.

You choose who looks after your child
You get to handpick the person who is going to be the caregiver of your child. This is extremely important if you’re working full-time, as you need to be able to leave the house in the morning knowing that your child is with someone you trust.

It’s cost effective
In the UAE hiring a nanny is cheaper than nursery and if you have more than one child it becomes even more cost effective.


Attachment issues
While it’s important that your child bonds with their nanny, this can also have a negative impact, as it can lead to jealousy and resentment between mum and nanny. Should the situation arise the best way to deal with it is for mum and nanny to sit down and openly discuss how to move forward. One suggestion would be that nanny goes off duty when mum comes home, giving mum and child a bit of one-on-one time.

Lack of social interaction
If children aren’t at nursery it’s really important that they are taken to toddler groups so that they can interact with other children. However, Dubai is a driving city and if your nanny doesn’t drive, this might not be feasible. One way around it would be to use a child-friendly taxi service such as Careem. Alternatively, encourage your nanny to make friends with other nannies in the area, so that play dates can be arranged with children of a similar age.

Devika Singh is a marriage, family and child psychologist at the Dubai Herbal & Treatment Center. She weighs up the pros and cons of sending your child to nursery.



Learning through play
Licensed nurseries follow recognised curriculums that cover a broad range of social, emotional and academic skill-building techniques. This can be hard to replicate in a home setting, especially if the person looking after your child isn’t trained in early childhood development.

Promotes social activity
Despite incorporating play dates and playgroups, the opportunities to learn social and emotional skills are limited when a child is only exposed to small groups of children. At a nursery your child will not only socialise with lots of other children, but they’ll also be around other adults, which further enhances their social skills.

Additional supervision
Nurseries allow for expert ‘division of labour’, so each staff member can focus on what they are best at, whether it be sensory play or story times. Nannies usually have multiple roles that involve housework and this can hamper their ability to focus on childcare.

Advice for parents
As a parent it can be difficult to be impartial about your own child. Nursery staff are formally trained and have a vast knowledge on child behaviour. Therefore they see your child from a completely different perspective and can be relied upon to offer balanced advice on a variety of situations, whether it be potty training, discipline or encouraging your child to eat.

Rich resources
Nurseries offer a wide array of toys, games and stimulating activities, such as messy play and music lessons. Key to this is that all equipment is dictated by the curriculum, so you can be sure that the toys and activities are all age-appropriate.


There is no getting away from it. If your child goes to nursery, they are going to get sick, simply because they are being exposed to so many other children. However, that’s not always a bad thing because in the long-term it helps to boost immunity. Of course, as a mum, it’s very difficult to feel that way when your child comes home with another cold.

Lack of one-on-one time
When children are in a group setting it’s fantastic for encouraging teamwork and listening skills, but one of the things that can get left out is one-on-one attention. If this is a concern, opt for a nursery that has a key worker programme and incorporates one-on-one time into the daily activities.

Other children’s behaviour
Typically children mirror what they see, so if your child sees unacceptable behaviour, such as biting, there is a chance they may copy it. This is particularly tricky when the child is at nursery, because you are not there to supervise and if the person who is in charge doesn’t spot the situation and deal with it immediately, that teachable moment passes, and the bad behaviour is learned.

It’s not always convenient
You don’t have the option to go with your child’s schedule, as you have to manage the day according to the nursery timings, which might not always be convenient.

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