If childcare is a major source of stress and concern for you, you’re not alone. In the U.S., where parents have little to no state-sponsored support for childcare, childcare costs have been increasing for years while wages have stagnated. On average, families are spending 27% of their income on childcare. 

Whether you’re a new parent, have more than one child, or are exploring the idea of growing your family, read on to find out what to expect when it comes to the cost of childcare and learn some actionable tips for how to budget effectively.  

Types of childcare

First, let’s take a look at the types of childcare you might be considering: 


Average U.S. cost: $1,230 per month  

Daycare provides a space for your child to learn outside the home, exposing them to other kids and educational activities. Daycares often have transitional rooms to accommodate several ages, from infant to preschool. Trade-offs may include limited individual attention and a higher likelihood of catching contagious illnesses through exposure to the daycare environment. 


Average U.S. cost: $3,190 per month 

Hiring a nanny ensures childcare is tailored to your family and more flexibility in scheduling. Nannies can give your child one-on-one attention and cater activities to their specific needs. However, this approach can cost more and may lack opportunities for socialization.

Nanny share

Average U.S. cost: $2,126 per month

A nanny share is when two or more families collectively employ a nanny to look after their children. A nanny share offers a combination of the social interaction of daycare on a smaller scale and the personalized attention from a nanny. Nanny shares are usually cheaper than getting a personal nanny, but coordinating with another family can be complicated.

Au pair 

Average U.S. cost: Monthly stipend of around $783, plus providing room, board, and other accomodations

An au pair is a young adult from another country who lives with your family on a legal visa for up to two years. They provide childcare in exchange for the opportunity to live in another country, a weekly stipend, and room and board. It’s important to remember that different countries have different child rearing styles, and adapting to a new cultural dynamic can be hard for au pairs, parents, and children. 


Average U.S. cost: Depends on your situation 

Relying on relatives can be comforting, cost-effective, and convenient. But different parenting philosophies and boundaries can cause tension. Relatives also may have their own commitments that limit their ability to provide consistent childcare. Some families choose to supplement other childcare options–like a nanny or daycare–with care from relatives a few days a week.

Average costs of childcare around the U.S.

Childcare prices vary around the country, but the costs are untenable even in the areas where care is the cheapest. According to the Department of Labor, median annual childcare prices for one child range from $5,357 to $17,171. The Department of Health and Human Services considers childcare “affordable” if it costs less than 7% of a families income—but most families need to spend much more than that to give their children the care they need. 

The top five most expensive counties in the U.S. for childcare according to the Department of Labor are: 

  • Bronx County, NY, NY
  • Kings County, NY, NY
  • Suffolk County, Boston, MA
  • Queens County, NY, NY
  • Fresno County, Fresno, CA

How to find affordable childcare

If you’ve decided your budget and the type of childcare you want,it’s time to actually nail down a provider. One of the best ways to do this is to ask other parents in your area. How did they find their nanny? What are the best daycare options in town? What are other people paying for childcare? Get input from people who’ve been through the process before in addition to doing your own research. For daycare, doing something as simple as Googling local daycares and calling them for information is a great way to start. For nannies, ask other families who use nannies if theirs knows of anyone who’s available.

The government provides money to states to offset the costs of childcare—but the aid available varies by state. Care.com has a comprehensive list of childcare assistance grantee contacts that you can find here. Working families can also qualify for a child and dependent care tax credit that you can learn more about here

Maven also has great childcare partners who can help you find the right provider for your family! Check them out.

How Maven can help you navigate childcare costs

Making childcare decisions during the best of times is hard. Add rising costs, and “stressful” really doesn’t do the situation justice. 

Check to see if you have access to Maven for: 

  • A dedicated Care Advocate who can help you figure out childcare costs and help you find the right childcare for your family
  • Mental health specialists who can help you manage financial and parenting stress 
  • Resources like articles and expert-led classes for every step of the parenting journey 

Join Maven today for free or refer your company here to ask your employer for access! 

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