How much does daycare (or a nanny) cost?

Childcare costs vary widely, based on where you live, how old your child is, and other factors – but here are some average prices to give you an idea.

Four infants crawling and playing on the floor at daycare.
Photo credit: / FatCamera

For many parents, childcare is a substantial expense, and one that's become even more costly in recent years: Daycare costs have increased by 214 percent over the last three decades, according to the First Five Years FundOpens a new window, one of many groups advocating for more affordable childcare.

Today, daycare in many states is more expensive than in-state public college tuition. Families on average spend 27 percent of their household income on childcare expenses, according to the 2023 Cost of Care ReportOpens a new window.

Advertisement | page continues below

As you start to research childcare options and consider how they'll factor into your family finances, here's some information on the average daycare and nanny costs, plus ideas and resources for how you might be able to make childcare more affordable for your family.

What is the average cost of childcare?

According to, the average cost of childcare in the U.S. in 2023 is:

  • $3,190 a month for nanny care
  • $1,230 a month for a daycare center
  • $992 a month for home daycare 
  • $776 a month for a babysitter

Those averages provide a ballpark range for childcare costs, but there's really no simple answer to this question. Nanny and daycare costs depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Where you live
  • What type of childcare you choose
  • Your child's age
  • How many hours a week your child spends in childcare

Where you live is what really determines the bottom line. For example, according to the monthly average cost of full-time, center-based infant daycare in Mississippi was $598 in 2023, compared to $1,413 per month in Massachusetts. Oftentimes this is connected directly to the cost of living and wages in a specific location.

Daycare – whether in a center or in someone's home – could cost double, triple, or even quadruple in a relatively expensive city compared with a more affordable area. Check with friends and caregivers near you to find out the going rate for the type of childcare you prefer, and don't be afraid to gather several quotes from different places before making your decision or assessing your budget.

Advertisement | page continues below

Some couples may think that having one parent stay at home is the less expensive option, but being your child's full-time caregiver has costs, too – most significantly, the loss of your previous income. Read more about what to consider if you're thinking about being a stay-at-home parent.

To find out more about daycare costs and options in your area, contact your local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency. There are hundreds of agency locations throughout the country that provide families with information about local childcare options and resources.

To find an agency near you, you can search for one on the Child Care AwareOpens a new window website. The site also features a helpful tool that tells you the average cost of daycare and home daycare in your zip code.

How much does daycare cost?

Daycare costs vary based on the same factors above, notably where you live, how old your child is, whether you're enrolling them in full- or part-time daycare, and if you're using a center- or home-based daycare facility.

You'll pay more for childcare during the infant and toddler stages because very young kids need more hands-on care, so the center must hire more caregivers. Daycare costs for preschool-age children are generally lower.

Advertisement | page continues below

Daycare costs for infants

The average cost of center-based infant daycare ranges from $6,656 to $21,684 per year ($555 to $1,807 monthly) depending on which state you live in, according to

The most expensive states for infant daycare are:

  • Washington DC: An average of $1,807 a month
  • Massachusetts: An average of $1,413 a month
  • Washington: An average of $1,343 a month
  • California: An average of $1,248 a month
  • Connecticut: An average of $1,127 a month

The least expensive states for infant daycare are:

  • South Dakota: An average of  $663 a month
  • Alabama: An average of $628 a month
  • Louisiana: An average of $624 a month
  • Mississippi: An average of $598 a month
  • Arkansas: An average of $555 a month
Advertisement | page continues below

Daycare costs for toddlers and preschoolers

Depending on which state you live in, 2022 numbers from say you'll pay anywhere from $5,933 to $20,776 a year for center-based daycare for a toddler.

As children get older, daycare prices usually drop a bit. According to the nonprofit Child Care Aware, prices range from $5,439 to $16,781 a year for center-based daycare for a 4-year-old.

Massachusetts is the most expensive state for a 4-year-old in a childcare center. Following right behind are New Jersey, Washington state, and Connecticut, where average costs exceed $13,000 per year. The least expensive states for a 4-year-old in daycare are Mississippi, Arkansas, South Dakota, and Kentucky.

How much does an in-home daycare cost?

The cost of home daycare also depends on your child's age and where you live, as well as the size of the facility and whether it's licensed. Some in-home daycare providers charge almost as much as bigger daycare centers, while others charge significantly less.

The average cost of licensed home daycare for an infant starts at around $916 a month, or $10,992 a year. For toddlers, the cost is $868 a month, or $10,416 a year. For 4-year-olds, the average cost for home daycare starts at about $5,000 a year and goes up to more than $11,000 a year ($417 to $917 a month).

Advertisement | page continues below

How much does a nanny cost?

The price of a nanny can vary, depending on where you live, how many children you have, and how stiff the competition is for qualified candidates. Rates vary nationwide, and some families pay as much as $25 per hour. But on average, nannies can cost around $736 a week for full-time care, according to

Your costs might be a bit lower if you choose to hire an au pair or a live-in nanny.

Hiring a nanny may be your most expensive option for childcare, or you may end up finding out that it's more cost effective for you if you have more than one child. Whatever you decide to do, keep in mind that when you hire a nanny you become their employer, and the government expects that you will pay your nanny's Social Security taxes and fulfill other responsibilities.

Since a nanny is an employee, many parents pay for their nanny's health insurance. If you do this, the nanny usually picks their own health plan and provides you with the financial breakdown. You can then decide to pay for all or part of the premium, which might give you a tax credit. You may also want to offer other benefits, such as paid holidays, vacation, and sick days. (Hiring a nanny through a local agency is another option, and the agency usually helps with the contracts, taxes, and other logistics.)

Ways to help make childcare more affordable

Childcare is a huge expense, but often an essential one for families where both parents work or in single-parent households. If you're struggling with figuring out how you'll afford daycare, here are a few ideas and resources for potentially saving money.

Advertisement | page continues below

Ask a relative to care for your child. Grandparents and other relatives nearby may be more than happy to help provide childcare, often for free or for way less than what daycare costs. That said, if you're fortunate enough to be in this situation, you might want to find some type of compensation other than money. Get your relative gift certificates for restaurants, movie theaters, or their favorite store; surprise them with a thank-you card and flowers every few weeks; or offer to pay a bill or help with household chores or yard work. You should also plan on giving your relative days off and vacation time.

Look for corporate discounts and company perks. Many daycare centers offer discounts for employees of larger corporations, so be sure to ask when you're researching options. And as more private companies provide generous paid family leave packages, they might also offer childcare benefits you don't know about, from babysitting stipends to backup childcare options. Ask your HR department about what benefits are available; or if you're looking for a new job, keep perks like these in mind.

Consider a nanny share. A nanny share is when a private nanny cares for the kids of two or more families at the same time, either at one family's house or back and forth between each. This allows parents to split the cost of a private nanny, making it a more affordable option.

Pay for childcare through a Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Some companies offer employees access to a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account, which lets you use pre-tax dollars to pay for childcare. Ask your HR department if this is something that's available. It may not help you save money month-to-month on daycare expenses, but it can lower your tax liability at the end of the year.

Look for low-income support or assistance. Every state offers income-based assistance for those who apply and qualify that can help pay for or subsidize the cost of childcare. To find out what's available in your state, check the database on Child Care AwareOpens a new window for a list of state-by-state resources. Other help is available through the Child Care Development FundOpens a new window and state-by-state Head StartOpens a new window programs.

Advertisement | page continues below

Read more:

Signs of a good daycare center

How to find a good nanny

Follow your baby's amazing development

BabyCenter's editorial team is committed to providing the most helpful and trustworthy pregnancy and parenting information in the world. When creating and updating content, we rely on credible sources: respected health organizations, professional groups of doctors and other experts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. We believe you should always know the source of the information you're seeing. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies.

Care.comOpens a new window. 2023. This is how much child care costs in 2023. a new window [Accessed September 2023]

Child Care Aware of America. Undated. Reaearch & Data. a new window [Accessed September 2023]

First Five Years Fund. 2021. Economic Data Underscores the Need for Significant, Sustained Investment in Child Care and Early Learning. a new window [Accessed September 2023]

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Head Start. a new window [Accessed September 2023]

U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Undated. Eligible Dependent Care FSA (DCFSA) Expenses. a new window [Accessed September 2023]

Amy Cassell
Amy Cassell was a senior editor at BabyCenter, the world's number one digital parenting resource, where she wrote and edited wellness and lifestyle content about pregnancy and parenting. She lives in Seattle with her husband and daughter – and when she's not writing, you’ll likely find her exploring with her family, at a brewery with friends, or on the couch with a book.