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How much does child care and day care cost?

Key takeaways

  • The average annual cost of center-based infant day care is about $15,000 in the US.
  • Choosing a family day care facility could reduce child care costs, while hiring a nanny could raise them.
  • Costs vary greatly depending on where you live and how old your child is. Luckily, there are many ways to reduce child care costs.

The average cost of child care is enough to make parents lose sleep. And prices continue to rise. How much does child care cost? It depends on what kind of care you choose, how old your child is, and where you live. Here are a few different child care options and their price tags, plus the average cost of day care around the country.

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How much does child care and day care cost?

Child care can easily cost hundreds of dollars per week for an infant, no matter whether you choose center-based day care (at a facility, usually with many other children), family day care (often in someone else's home with a few other families' children), or a nanny (usually 1 adult in your home with no other families' children). Here's what to know about different options, including child care costs, from, a company that connects families to caregivers.

Center-based day care

Average cost for an infant: $284 weekly; $14,768 annually1

With longer hours and few holidays off, day care centers are a popular option for working parents. In some parts of the country, there may be few spots or long waiting lists, especially for infants, because of low, state-mandated baby-to-adult ratios. When your child is sick, your day care might have strict rules about keeping your child home and under what conditions they may return, so you might need to arrange for backup care in those cases.

In-home family day care

Average cost for an infant: $229 weekly; $11,908 annually2

Some areas allow child care that feels like a day care center but in a home setting. For some parents, it's a happy medium—not as pricey as a larger center, while potentially providing more structure and socialization than a nanny could. One watchout: Center-based day cares tend to be licensed and state regulated, but in-home day cares might not be, depending on your location.


Average cost for an infant: $736 weekly; $38,272 annually3

It's a much higher price to get individualized attention to care for a child. But unlike a day care, which might have backup teachers ready to go if one doesn't come to work, a nanny is a solo operation. If the nanny calls in sick, a parent might find themselves without any child care options. While costs can quickly add up for 1 child, hiring a nanny could be more affordable than some day cares for multiple children. Another lower-cost nanny option is a "nanny share," when 2 or more sets of parents share a single provider and split the cost.

How much does child care and day care cost by state?

In more than half the country, infant day care costs more per year than in-state tuition at a public university, according to Child Care Aware of America, an organization that advocates for child care access and affordability.4 In general, child care costs have jumped 220% since 1990, far outpacing average inflation, according to research from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private philanthropy organization.5 And child care costs are eating up an increasingly larger share of parents' income. According to data from, 67% of parents reported spending at least 20% of their annual household income on child care in 2023. That's up from 51% of parents in 2022.6

A small silver lining: Child care costs tend to fall as children get older, at least partly because states tend to allow more toddlers and preschoolers per teacher than babies in a day care room. And yet, even for 4-year-olds, day care costs are high. Here's how much child care costs in each of the 50 states for infants and 4-year-olds in full-time center-based care, according to Child Care Aware of America.7

State Average annual cost of infant care Average annual cost of 4-year-old care
Alabama $7,800 $7,280
Alaska $11,760 $9,600
Arizona $14,040 $10,920
Arkansas $8,021 $6,443
California8 $19,500 $14,400
Colorado $19,573 $13,809
Connecticut $16,588 $13,468
Delaware $14,290 $11,514
Florida $11,440 $7,904
Georgia $9,227 $7,899
Hawaii $20,647 $13,640
Idaho $9,708 $8,160
Illinois $14,560 $10,660
Indiana $11,897 $8,322
Iowa $11,129 $9,169
Kansas $14,223 $9,559
Kentucky $9,685 $8,525
Louisiana $8,580 $7,800
Maine $11,960 $8,580
Maryland $18,156 $12,587
Massachusetts $24,472 $18,646
Michigan $12,238 $10,151
Minnesota $17,441 $13,331
Mississippi $7,280 $6,500
Missouri $11,059 $7,912
Montana $11,700 $10,400
Nebraska $12,220 $10,400
Nevada $13,383 $11,015
New Hampshire $15,340 $13,000
New Jersey $17,460 $15,120
New Mexico $12,024 $8,436
New York $21,826 $18,460
North Carolina $11,833 $9,998
North Dakota $9,984 $8,930
Ohio $11,438 $8,580
Oklahoma $9,176 $7,709
Oregon $15,786 $10,800
Pennsylvania $12,152 $10,150
Rhode Island $15,028 $13,000
South Carolina $9,048 $8,372
South Dakota $7,862 $7,218
Tennessee $11,511 $9,978
Texas $10,348 $9,204
Utah $11,232 $8,268
Vermont $15,080 $14,300
Virginia $15,450 $12,105
Washington $16,380 $12,600
West Virginia $7,680 $6,720
Wisconsin $13,572 $11,128
Wyoming $10,637 $9,360

How to save on child care and day care costs

"The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated preexisting weaknesses" with child care costs, says Chris Herbst, professor of public affairs economics at Arizona State University. For example, it was projected in the fall of 2023 that more than 70,000 child care programs could close because of federal funding that expired in September 2023.9 That could mean more than 3 million children lose their day care spots. But new federal and state options are emerging that aim to help offset child care costs, including the expansion of subsidized preschool opportunities, says Martha Buell, a professor at the University of Delaware who studies early childhood education.

In the meantime, consider the following potential options to make child care costs more manageable.

1. Stagger parental leave

If your employer or state offers parental leave, and you have a partner who's also entitled to time off, consider stretching the amount of time before you need to outsource child care for an infant. In other words, take your parental leave during different weeks than your partner. This could be especially helpful if you need to wait for an infant spot to open up at a local day care. "You basically have to get on waiting lists the moment you find out you're pregnant," says Anna Rollins, 35, a mom of 2 in Huntington, West Virginia.

2. Consider in-home day care

In addition to this homier option typically costing less than center-based day care, in-home day care could make it easier to bond with other local families. Just do your due diligence: If a potential in-home day care is required to be licensed in your area, check that they actually are. Search online for any complaints about the business, and ask to speak with current and former clients.

3. Organize a nanny share

Know another care-seeking family you vibe with? See if they'd split a nanny with you, which could reduce the cost of that personalized care.

4. Consider pre-paying

With day care tuition increasing annually, you could ask to secure the current year's child care rates by paying for those months of care in advance. That could allow you to lock in prices before the coming year's hikes if you have the cash on hand.

5. Negotiate

Ask your day care center about whether there's any wiggle room with their rates. For instance, if you're enrolling multiple children, ask if they offer sibling discounts. Some day cares might lower tuition by 10% for 1 or more of your kids. Some providers might also offer a lower price for parents doing later dropoffs or earlier pickups.

6. Ask a relative or friend for help

Is having a loved one care for your child an option for a day or 2 each week? If so, that could potentially reduce how often you need a nanny or day care—and how much you pay.

7. Look into backup care

Check if your employer offers a backup care benefit, which could allow you access to center-based care or a sitter when you can't find care more permanent. If so, you could get care at a lower cost for a limited amount of days. This could bridge the gap between when you return to work and when a day care center has a spot for your child or when a nanny can begin work. It could also cover you if your regular day care center is closed or your nanny is sick.

8. Extend your child care commute

Being willing to travel a bit could give you access to cheaper child care services in a different town. Just make sure you save more than you spend on public transportation or gas to get there, and your work schedule isn't negatively impacted.

9. Adjust your work schedule

If possible, negotiate workday hours that could reduce how much child care coverage you need. For instance, if you have a partner who can be on kid-care duty in the early morning, starting and ending your workday earlier might mean you only need to pay for half-day day care.

10. Hire a stay-at-home parent caregiver

A parent willing to watch your child in addition to their own might be looking to earn extra income and be willing to offer you a more affordable rate than a nanny because they'd get to spend time with their own child while watching yours. But if the parent or their child is sick, they might cancel on you—or you might not want them around your kid. And you should make sure they have an extra car seat for your child in case the parent needs to run out.

11. See if your employer offers a dependent care FSA

A flexible spending account (FSA) allows working single tax filers and married couples filing jointly to contribute up to $5,000 pre-tax each year—reducing your taxable income by the amount you put in—and use those funds toward qualified dependent care expenses. (Married couples filing separately can contribute up to $2,500 each year.) These funds don't roll over, so you need to plan to use them by the end of the plan year or by the end of the grace period, if your plan allows.

12. See if you qualify for the dependent care tax credit

Even if you take full advantage of a dependent care FSA, if you spend more than $5,000 on qualified dependent care expenses, have 2 or more dependents, and fall within income limits, you also may be able to claim a partial amount of this nonrefundable credit. For tax-year 2023, you could claim up to $3,000 in qualified expenses per child, for a max total of up to $6,000 in qualified expense claims, and reduce your tax bill by 20% to 35% of these claims, depending on your adjusted gross income. If you decide not to utilize a dependent care FSA or other related employer benefits, you may be able to claim the full credit. Consider talking to a tax professional about your options for using a dependent care FSA and claiming this tax credit.

13. Consider jobs with subsidized child care

Some companies offer onsite or nearby day care, which might be more affordable than unaffiliated child care centers. That's because employers might cover some of the operational costs to attract and retain parent employees. Keep this in mind as you're reviewing benefits and negotiating a new job offer.

14. Explore specialized child care programs

Some vocational schools and colleges might house day care centers, which might have fewer hours than a traditional center but could be a more cost-effective alternative.

15. Consider moving

Where you live can mean spending thousands more above the average day care cost. But it only tells part of the story. Some areas, even with higher day care costs such as New York, offer free full-day kindergarten and universal preschool programs. The programs use tax dollars to subsidize child care costs for children aged 3 to 5, which could mean 2 or more years of reduced child care expenses.

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More to explore

1. Editorial Staff, "This is how much child care costs in 2023,", June 13, 2023. 2. Editorial Staff, "This is how much child care costs in 2023,", June 13, 2023. 3. Editorial Staff, "This is how much child care costs in 2023,", June 13, 2023. 4. "New Report Finds that Increases in the Price of Child Care Continue to Exceed the Rate of Inflation," Child Care Aware of America, October 13, 2022. 5. Page 5, The Broken Child Care Market, "2023 Kids Count Data Book: State Trends in Child Well-Being," The Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2023. 6. Editorial Staff, "This is how much child care costs in 2023,", June 13, 2023. 7. Table 1, 2022 Average Annual Price of Full-Time Center-Based Child Care by State, "Price of Care: 2022 Affordability Analysis," Child Care Aware of America, 2023. 8. Kristin Taketa, "This San Diego child care gives kids 'a higher chance of thriving.’ But California doesn't pay providers enough to cover their costs,” San Diego Union Tribune, January 15, 2023. 9. Maggie McGrath, "Melinda French Gates: Women Need Safety Nets For The Childcare Cliff,", December 7, 2023.

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