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When families with young children are working on their budget, childcare often makes up a hefty portion of monthly budgets, especially for families with more than one child who is not yet in school. The average annual cost of infant childcare in Wisconsin is $12,567 ($1,047 per month), with costs going down slightly for toddlers.

Check out this information on evaluating childcare costs and options to help you choose a childcare option that is best for your family.

How much does childcare cost families?

For many families in Wisconsin and across the country, childcare is currently one of the biggest annual expenses families face.

In looking at the median family income in Wisconsin, childcare for one infant child would take up 18.5 percent of family income. Families with more than one child in childcare face even larger financial challenges.

What are the options?

For many families, options for childcare include daycare, hiring a nanny, tapping into family or friends, or temporarily leaving the workforce.

In-home nanny

An in-home nanny may be a good idea for families who need someone to spend time with their kids a couple of times a week for a few hours per day. An in-home nanny can help with preparing meals, household chores, driving kids to and from activities and possibly homework. Many daycares have a minimum time commitment, so having an in-home nanny can be more flexible.

While an in-home nanny may be the easiest and most flexible option, it is the most expensive. Since many childcare centers require you to pay the full-time rate even if your children are not there every day/full days, you may pay less if you don’t need a nanny full-time. While pay varies by location, most in-home nannies earn around $13 per hour. Metropolitan areas are often more expensive, and if you want a nanny with special trainings or certifications, you’ll most likely pay more. Keep in mind, depending on your state, you may need to pay nanny taxes.

If your nanny has their own children, an option to save money would be to let them bring their own children to your home while they nanny. Paying a dollar or two less per hour may be worth having a couple extra kids in your house.


With a nanny share, two or more families can share the services of one nanny. The nanny can rotate between each of the families’ homes, and the kids involved will have regular playmates.

Because the nanny will be watching more children than if it were just one family, paying a dollar or two more than average per hour is typical. However, this is a less expensive option because you’ll be splitting the costs with other families.

There are a couple of ways you can save even more money with a nanny share. If other families have more kids than you, they can pay a larger portion of the nanny’s hourly rate. If you’re the one bringing your kids to another family’s house more often, you may be able to pay less.

A key part of this equation is asking your list of potential nannies if they would be willing to be part of a nanny share. With multiple families/parents and multiple sets of rules, it may be harder to find a nanny who is willing to go through the extra hassle.


Of the three options, daycare is oftentimes the most inexpensive. Besides being the cheapest, another benefit of daycare is that kids get more social interaction.

There are many kinds of daycares, so you’ll need to determine what price you are willing to pay and what your priorities are. There are options from large, school-like daycare centers to small, home-based daycare providers. If multiple daycare prices would fit in your budget, look at which environment would be the best fit for your child, as well as if they have openings for your child(ren).

At most daycares, the older a child gets, the lower the cost becomes. As with the other childcare options, overall costs depend on location.

Although the most inexpensive option, most daycares will require somewhat regular scheduling. You’ll need to pre-pay each week, and while you can cancel, getting a refund is most likely not an option.

Temporarily leave the workforce

In the U.S., 2.4% of families chose to have one parent stay home with the kids. For some, after factoring in childcare costs and other expenses automatically deducted from their paychecks (like taxes, health insurance premiums, etc.), working while sending a child to daycare would leave them with little to no income. While this is not an option for many people, it is also not forever. Your kids eventually go to school, and then you’ll be able to re-enter the workforce.

Before you decide which option is best for your family, make sure you thoroughly consider the pros and cons both financially and for your child. To help you make your decision, check out our blog on a parent’s guide to budgeting.