Au Pair Program Versus Nanny Program

Day by day families in Massachusetts is navigating through the changes that we all have experienced over the past 18 months due to the pandemic. Now that we are starting to go back to work what does that look like for our childcare needs? 

Childcare options include In-home with a nanny or Au Pair or out-of-home centers and home daycares.

Cost, Experience, Convenience, flexibility, and cultural exchange all weigh indifferently with families. It is a very personal decision based on which one of these factors is most important.


 There are such huge differences in the out-of-home options that it’s hard to add to this chart.  The following chart is an example of costs for a standard Au Pair and a nanny earning $25 per hour for 45 hours of child care.

Au Pair Program Versus Nanny Program

Au Pair Program Versus Nanny Program

Au Pair Program Versus Nanny Program


A topic that immediately took a backseat as COVID-19 wreaked havoc through our world was the increase of the minimum wage and the changes in the Au pair program now that they are to be paid differently in Massachusetts.  (Massachusetts Domestic Workers Rights Bill)

$232.00 more each week to have a no-hassle nanny that you can have for years.

Experience –

Au pair only need 200 hours of documented childcare. A nanny with as little as 2 years (most have upwards of 25 years) of experience is probably going to provide higher-quality child care. A nanny is also a chosen field, not just a fun year to get to know the US.


Let’s face it, having an extra set of hands to get kids out the door can be a game-changer for some. Or, letting children sleep in while you peacefully get ready to jet off to work is much preferred. After some training (and more training) an Au Pair will “get it” and things will run relatively smooth. A nanny will be an easier, more understanding helper. Simply just being more familiar with the area is a plus.

A Nanny will not be part of your family time, Au Pairs will. Hard to say which is a plus and which is a minus here. Living together definitely has its own conflict of advantages and disadvantages.


The Au pair programs tagline is ‘Flexible, Affordable childcare with a Cultural flair’.  For the most part, this rings true, mostly because families can dictate the schedule weekly that can include a split shift throughout the day. (7am-9am, 3pm-9pm)

Many nannies will work with families and pivot when necessary with notice. A nanny most often will want to work (and be paid for) a continuous shift.

Au pairs only can stay with families for 1 year with an option to extend for additional months. A nanny can and most times to stay with families until they are no longer needed.

Cultural –

If families are simply looking for a cultural exchange then the Au pair program may work. Having their children exposed to a fluent Spanish speaker while they become an English emersion program, is the exchange. (For this to work, families need to be patient and kind while she picks up the language and nuances of our culture, something that oftentimes is not in balance)

Having been a community counselor for an au pair program for 20 years and being a host mother for five, I can contest the fact that the majority of the families who join this program are not doing it for the cultural exchange. My days were spent managing conflicts, outlining expectations, teaching parenting skills, and listening to unhappy au pairs and frustrated parents. Many do it for the flexibility of childcare but most do it for the cost.

With there still being significant challenges for Au pair’s to even obtain a  J-1 visa, it’s even making it more and more difficult to get the right choice with such a limited pool of girls.

Nannies have so many opportunities for enriching their skills with the variety of certificate programs available, it really makes them a very desirable option for child care.

Working with the right agency will help you weed out what may not work for your family so you can continue to work from home or return to your workplace with ease.

Most agencies will find a candidate for you and then you won’t hear from them again. Working with the right company that will include troubleshooting, counseling, brainstorming with issues to ensure a smooth relationship throughout the entire contract can be very helpful.

Luckily we have both options available to use here in Massachusetts.

Please Contact Boston Newborn Care for details about our Programs.