Daycare vs Grandparents: Which One Should You Choose?

a daycare and grandparents

Some lucky parents get to choose between using a daycare or letting grandparents take care of their children.

If this is you, you have a difficult choice ahead of you. Don’t worry. I’ll break down all of the pros and cons of daycare vs. grandparents for you.

*FYI, some of the links in this article about daycare vs. grandparents may be affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, we may get a commission (at no extra cost to you). For more info, please see our disclaimer.

Should I Have Daycare or Grandparents Watch My Kids?

If money is an issue and the grandparents are willing, choosing them over daycare will be better. If you can afford it, daycare could be less stressful and less of a hassle in the long run because it avoids weird family conflicts and dynamics.

Ultimately choosing between daycare and grandparents will not be the same for every family.

Sometimes, daycare is the better option. You simply need to talk it through with your partner and the grandparents to determine the best fit for you and your child.

Related: Daycare vs Nanny: Which One is Better?

Daycare vs. Grandparents

grandfather and grandmother with grandchildren

It sounds like the newest video game where the daycare workers battle grandparents to see who can change a diaper with the most speed and accuracy.

While that might be a top-downloaded app in the near future, our discussion is a bit different.

You will need to heavily weigh your options if grandparents offer their services as daycare providers.

There are a lot of issues with both grandparents and daycare.

Pro-Tip
Make sure you choose well because you might not get a chance at a do-over without hard feelings.

When to Use Grandma and Grandpa over Daycare

A grandparent may offer to serve as a daycare provider for parents. They might truly want the opportunity to spend that time with their grandchildren.

They may believe they are the better alternative to a poor-quality daycare provider. They might offer because they know the parents need financial help.

Grandparents rarely charge for providing daycare. You will probably have to pay for clothing, furnishings, and other supplies, but few grandparents expect payment for watching their grandchildren. It truly is a great way to save money if the grandparents are willing.

Another reason to use grandparents for childcare is to build a relationship between your child and their grandparent.

The more respectable adult voices a child hears, the better off they will be in the long run.

Lastly, and often most importantly, grandparents are the best option when the daycares you can afford simply aren’t adequate.

Daycare is expensive. A good daycare is even more expensive. The only other options you have might be daycares that could cause more harm than good.

Looking for Quality Daycare?

Find an affordable and qualified daycare center that fits your needs.

Grandparent Pros:

Grandparent Cons:

  • May cause a rift or resentment in the family
  • Grandparents might not always be available

Related: When Can You Leave a Baby with Grandparents?

When to Pick Daycare Over Grandparents

kids in daycare

Not all grandparents want to be full-time caregivers. Years ago, I had wonderful neighbors who had three grandchildren they loved but didn’t want to raise.

They literally moved to a small apartment just so they wouldn’t be asked to provide daycare for these kids.

Forcing grandparents into being daycare providers is a great way to ruin your relationship and ensure your child is miserable at grandma’s house.

Using daycare instead of grandparents can lessen the gravity of uncomfortable situations.

For example, my mother-in-law insisted on teaching her religion to my children when they were in her care.

While I don’t mind them knowing about her faith, I would rather they not practice it until they are older and can make that decision for themselves.

I told her as much, which only caused her to secretly attempt to indoctrinate my children.

I know I’m not the first, nor will I be the last to go through something like this. Choosing daycare makes these situations less likely and less severe.

Another great reason to choose daycare instead of grandparents is the socialization a child will receive.

In daycare, children meet a large number of other kids. They simply won’t see that when they’re spending the day with grandpa.

Looking for Quality Daycare?

Find an affordable and qualified daycare center that fits your needs.

Daycare Pros:

  • Varied curriculum
  • Social atmosphere
  • Reliable hours

Daycare Cons:

Related: Daycare Center vs In-Home Daycare

Pro-Tip
Something else to keep in mind is the overall physical and mental health of the grandparents.

Just because grandma says she can watch your toddlers or the twins doesn’t mean she should.

Many grandparents will try to push themselves and unfortunately, some will push themself into a dangerous situation for the child.

Assess the ability of the grandparent to be able to meet all the needs of your child. There’s nothing wrong if they can’t, and they shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about it.

They’ve already raised kids and may not be at a point where they’re able to raise/watch another young kid.

Comparison Chart: Daycare vs Grandparents (Grandma and Grandpa)

The table below summarizes some of the key points of my argument above.

Points to ConsiderDaycareGrandparents
The Cost$1000-$1500 a month (depending on the state and region)$0 Grandparents typically don’t charge for watching their grandkids. One of the best ways to reduce the cost of childcare.
Educational OpportunitiesYou can enroll your child in a daycare that emphasizes learning with a set curriculum (see Daycare vs Montessori)Education will probably not be a focus. You would have to be very proactive to encourage the grandparent to teach the child.
SocializationYour child will meet a diverse group of people. Your kids will learn to be around others their age.Will not meet a diverse group of people, but the parent will have more control over their kids’ interactions.
ReliabilityDaycare will be a lot more reliable. You don’t have to worry about a childcare provider getting sick. That’s the daycare’s problem.Not very reliable. If the grandparent gets sick, you might have to take off from work if you can’t find replacement childcare quickly.
Risk of ConflictThere could be conflict, but it may be easier to deal with the conflict because they’re not family.

Worst case scenario breakup with the daycare and find a new daycare.
Any conflict may be harder to manage because they’re family. If any significant issue happens, you can’t get new grandparents.
A comparison table of grandparents vs daycare. Go here to find a daycare in your area.

A Personal Story

guy talking to inlaws

My mother has become a wonderful person in her older years. She is kind and caring. I never hear her raise her voice or argue about anything.

That can be a real problem when it comes to raising children. While she has never provided that service to my children, she has practically raised my sister’s kids.

They can have ice cream for breakfast and cookies for dinner. She takes them shopping for whatever toys they want. They don’t have to do chores or homework while in her care.

Basically, she is a grandchild’s dream and a parent’s nightmare. I am grateful that we don’t live in the same area because this kind of care doesn’t work for me.

Though it was much more expensive to use daycare, I’m happy that we were able to make that choice.

Pick the Option that Works for Your Family

Using a grandparent as a daycare might be a great thing for some. For financial reasons, it may even be necessary.

It depends on the personality of the grandparents and the needs of the parents.

What do you think? Should grandparents take the place of daycare? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Some children may prefer their grandparents over their parents or other people.

Many grandparents are forced to raise their grandchildren for one reason or another. Unfortunately, many grandparents are not in the ideal physical, mental, or financial health to raise their grandchildren.