Types of childcare

By: Miles Hector

For first-time parents, finding a caregiver can be a giant headache. 

Whether you’re looking for a money-saving option, a live-in nanny, or just someone to cover weekends, there’s a caregiver perfect for your needs. Keep reading to learn more about 5 different types of child care, and to see what advantages they can offer your family.


Nannies are wholly invested in your child’s development and well-being. A nanny is usually hired when the primary caregiver works long hours, so there’s a significant time component to this childcare type. Unlike babysitters who are usually just used for supervision, a nanny will generally have more responsibilities. This can include meal preparation, laundry, housekeeping, assisting with homework, and many other tasks. Their large scope of responsibilities can make it a good idea for parents to consider a long-term contract with a nanny they trust. 

Most nannies have their own home and are available on-call but there are also live-in nannies, sometimes called au-pairs. Some of the benefits of a nanny include: 

  • Individual attention and one-on-one care
  • Often full-time with flexible hours
  • Familiar environment and routine for your child
  • It’s easier for parents to have more input


Daycares are the childcare option Canadians are most familiar with. However, the word is actually an umbrella term that can mean one of two childcare centres: 

  • Nursery School:  Nursery schools are typically for 0-3-year-olds so there is not too much emphasis on curriculum. They specialize in care for infants and toddlers.
  • Preschool: Preschool is for 3-5-year-olds but can sometimes include younger children. They focus on early education to prepare kids for kindergarten.

Daycares keep kids engaged through games, exploration, and learning. In nurseries, the focus is placed on play, while preschools tend to be more structured and focus on learning. Benefits of daycare include:

  • Discounts are often offered for multiple children
  • Workers are licensed child care professionals
  • Children get to interact with their peers
  • Structured programs and activities 
  • Multiple staff members so you don’t have to worry about your caregiver calling in sick

Before- and-After-School Programs

Before-and-after-school programs (BAASP) are great options for parents who have to work before their kids start school or clock out well after the kids are done for the day. Kids usually like these programs because they can spend more time with friends. Parents love these programs because kids can finish up homework at school and get extra help if they need it. 

In Ontario, any schools that offer kindergarten to grade six must also offer BAASP. BAASP programs are an extension of the school day with independent activities, quiet times, and outdoor play. Here are some of the benefits to BAASP: 

  • Homework help from instructors and peers
  • Physical and mental stimulation 
  • Increased social interaction  
  • Available on professional development days 


A classic childcare option, babysitting differs from other childcare options because it’s not a popular choice for long-term use. Perfect for when parents want a night to themselves, but not so much when they want a weekend getaway. And since babysitting is often done in the child’s home, the adjustment period is shorter.

Bear in mind that babysitters do not require a license. That’s okay if you have a friend you trust that’s willing to babysit your kids for a couple of hours, but not when it’s a stranger. It’s usually impossible to gauge a babysitter’s experience without references so be thorough in your search!  Here are the benefits of babysitting: 

  • Flexible coverage on weekends and late nights
  • Cheaper than most other options
  • No long-term commitment


This is the option parents are most likely to choose if they have it. Whether it’s grandparents, aunts and uncles or older cousins, many parents feel safer leaving their children with someone they already know and trust. As an added bonus, kids will have the chance to bond and forge deeper connections with their own extended family. Here are some of the benefits of choosing family childcare: 

  • Is often offered for free
  • Culturally relevant to your child
  • Higher levels of trust

There are a lot of different options for childcare for parents in need, but it doesn’t need to be a headache!