main.min_jhxetk.js Choosing the right childcare option for your baby – Newborn Baby
Choosing the right childcare option for your baby

There is a wide range of early childhood education and care services available to Australian families, whether you’re returning to work or study, need some help in the home, or just need a break. If you’re a first-time parent, this can all be a little daunting.

There’s a lot to weigh up when searching for the best childcare option for your baby. Logistics, cost, availability, your baby’s temperament, and your parenting approach are just a few considerations. The decision is usually fraught with emotions (read about that here) as well, making it even more challenging to choose the right option.

Choosing the right childcare option for your baby

To help you make this important decision, we will look at all of the options available to Australian families, the hours of care, the costs, and who each option is ideal for.

Child Care Centre or Long Day Care

These centres provide all-day care in their premises for working families, and offer early childhood education programs as part of their care. They can be run by private operators, local councils, community organisations, employers, or non-profit organisations. Usually the child must be a minimum of 6 weeks of age.

Hours of care: Varies between centres, but generally they’re open 6.30am-6.30pm weekdays all year except public holidays.

Cost: Varies between centres, and is dependent on things such as number of days, the age of your child, and your eligibility for any government subsidies. Before subsidies, the average cost of childcare in Australia is $112.83 per day.

Ideal for: Parents who work/study part-time or full-time on a permanent basis.

For more information and to find a long child care centre near you, click here.

Family Day Care

An experienced carer or educator provides care and developmental activities in their own home for other people’s children. Care is often flexible and tailored to each family’s needs, including care outside normal working hours and possibly overnight if needed.

Hours of care: Usually only on weekdays, but some providers can support to families with unusual circumstances.

Cost: Fees vary according to location, the educator’s qualifications, the hours of care, and age of the child. The typical fee range is $7.50 – $16.80 per hour

Ideal for: Parents who would like more personalised care of their baby in a smaller setting; or for parents who work outside normal hours eg. shift workers.

For more information and to find a family day care near you, click here

Occasional, Flexible or Casual Care Services

These services provide short periods of care that can be used on either a regular or casual basis for reasons including shift or part-time work, respite care, crisis and emergency care, shopping or attending appointments.

They can be run by community organisations, non-profit organisations, and local councils. You can even find them attached to coworking spaces, which offer flexible access to a workspace while your baby is cared for by a qualified childcare professional.

Hours of care: Usually offers flexible hours but your nearest one may not be open on evenings and weekends.

Cost: You only pay for the hours you use, for as little as one hour to a full day. Fees vary, and government subsidies may be available, with an average cost of $12.73 per hour.

Ideal for: Parents who require flexibility, and not necessarily a long term solution. Great if you just want to go to an appointment, or a class, or you just need a break.

For more information and to find an occasional, flexible, or casual care services near, click here

In Home Care

A flexible form of child care where quality early childhood education and care is provided in your home by a qualified In Home educator. In Home Care Support Agencies will assess your family’s eligibility.

This type of care is subsidised by the government for families who can’t access mainstream childcare options because they work non-standard hours, are geographically isolated, or have challenging and complex family needs.

Hours of care: Flexible.

Cost: $30-$35 per hour before the Child Care Subsidy (use the CCS Calculator to work out what you’re entitled to)

Ideal for: Parents who don’t work standard hours, are geographically isolated, or have challenging or complex family needs.

For more information and to find In-Home Care near you, click here

Mother’s Helper

A mother’s helper usually supports a stay-at-home parent, and is basically an extra pair of hands. They have little to no experience caring for children, but can assist you with childcare and household duties under your supervision.

Hours of care: It may be a part-time or full-time role

Cost: $18-$20 depending on your location, required tasks, and their experience.

Ideal for: A stay-at-home parent who needs an extra pair of hands. Perfect if your family isn’t nearby or are unavailable to help you.

For more information and to find a Mother’s Helper, check out your local nanny agency or ask other parents for recommendations.

Au Pair

An au pair is typically a young, single person from overseas. They can be expected to do a combination of childcare and light household duties in exchange for board and a small allowance.

They are not trained nannies, and may have little to no training. It’s important to note that they must not be left in sole charge of babies younger than 12 months.

Hours of care: Usually less than 15 hours a week with weekends off.

Cost: $300 per week pocket money, plus food and board (and agency fees if applicable).

Ideal for: Families who need a little extra help in the home, and have the necessary space to have someone live-in.

For more information about what what you should pay an Au pair and the expected conditions, read this, and to find an au pair, click here

Fair Work published their announcement on nannies and au pairs coming under the Miscellaneous Workers Award here

Nanny or Maternity Nanny

If you’re considering a nanny for your baby, you might prefer to find a maternity nanny who is highly experienced in caring for infants under 12 months. Duties should be restricted to childcare and domestic duties related to the care of the child.

Hours of care: Part-time or full-time usually on weekdays during standard working hours for nannies, but a maternity nanny may work nights and weekends.

Cost: $30 per hour on average (plus super and agency fees if applicable)

Ideal for: Families who would prefer a professional to care for their baby in the home for one-on-one quality care. Perfect for young babies, multiples, plus it can be more cost-effective if care is needed of older children as well as the baby.

For more information about the pay and expected conditions when hiring a nanny, please see the Australian Nanny Association.

Fair Work published their announcement on nannies and au pairs coming under the Miscellaneous Workers Award here

Nanny Sharing

A nanny employed by two families helps to split the costs of a nanny. The other family may also have a baby or toddler for your baby to socialise with. Another option is for a nanny to bring her own child to care for alongside yours, which also reduces their hourly rate.

For more information and to find a nanny share, check out your local nanny agency or ask other parents for recommendations.

Hours of care: Part-time or full-time, usually on weekdays during standard working hours.

Cost: About $15-$18 per hour per family (plus agency fees if applicable).

Ideal for: Families who like the flexibility and quality of care a nanny provides, but would like to reduce the costs.

Night Nanny

Offering respite and sleep guidance, a night nanny will come and stay overnight and attend to your baby’s needs usually for a minimum of two consecutive nights. This service grants exhausted parents some much-needed rest.

Hours of care: Between 8-12 hours a night.

Cost: Fee is usually around $35 per hour (plus agency fees if applicable). Rates are higher if baby sleep guidance is required.

Ideal for: Parents who require overnight support, particularly if parents work shift work, or they just need to catch up on sleep.

For more information and to find a night nanny, check out your local nanny agency or ask other parents for recommendations.

Postnatal Doula

For help during the newborn period, a postpartum doula will provide professional and nurturing care of the birth mother, offer emotional and physical support, breast or bottle feeding guidance, newborn care, provide nourishing meals for you, and assist you to stay on top of household tasks.

Hours of care: They often provide postnatal packages, for eg. 4 visits of 3 hours each.

Cost: Anywhere between $25-$110 per hour, depending on the services they offer and their experience.

Ideal for: Mums who are recovering from the birth, experiencing postnatal depression, or have very little physical and emotional support around them.

For more information and to find a postnatal doula, click this or ask other parents for recommendations.

Babysitter

A babysitter provides an occasional supervisory service, and could be a family member, close friend, other parent, or someone from a babysitting agency. You might choose to use a babysitter if you want to go out for an evening or when you have an appointment. Ensure that they have infant experience.

Hours of care: Usually evenings from 6pm onwards.

Cost: $18-$35 per hour (plus agency fees if applicable) depending on experience. Or free if you are lucky enough to have a family member or friend babysit. You might like to leave them with a meal or gift to show your appreciation.

Ideal for: Parents who want to go for a well-deserved evening out, or to pop out for an appointment.

For more information and to find a babysitter near you, check out your local agency or ask other parents for recommendations.

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