Childcare in Singapore & Malaysia, Choosing Between Domestic Helpers, Nannies and Babysitters

If you’ve been toying with the idea of hiring someone to help with the kids, here are all the options available to you in Singapore & nearby Malaysia (with everything in malaysian ringgits terms)…

You’ve hacked it out by yourself long enough with a bub and a job – and without any help. You now know you’re a superwoman, but it’s also time to admit that you deserve a bit of “me time”. A fellow mummy friend tells you she’s got a nanny, and recently hired a helper.

“What’s the difference?” you ask. Well plenty, as a matter of fact. If you didn’t know by now, there’s more than one type of childcare option available for parents in Singapore. Besides helpers, you’ve also got babysitters, nannies and even au pairs at your disposal should you need someone to watch your kids while you’re at work, need a few hours to yourself or for that special date night. What’s the difference between each of them and how do you decide who will suit you best? Read on to find out…

Helper 
A helper, also known as a main, is usually a live-in foreign domestic worker (FDW), from the Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar or India. She helps maintain the house and may carry out other duties.
Roles: Mainly cleaning and cooking, but may also be tasked to take care of kids, special needs patients, the elderly and pets.
Pros: Majority of people living in Singapore, local and expats, depend on their helper for practically everything, from cleaning and cooking to picking the kids up from school.
Cons: You’ll have to ‘train’ them to adapt to the way you like things done. Depending on the country they come from, some may not be able to speak English well.
Costs: Current average salaries for a FDW range from around $450-$700 per month, depending on how experienced they are.
Find a helper through 121personnel.sg or We Are Caring

Nanny
A nanny is a person who provides live-in or temporary childcare services.
Roles: Childcare, but not infantcare.
Pros: You’re guaranteed professional childcare with training from nanny agencies and even nanny college! Norland Nannies hail from a world famous college in the UK and will be closest thing you’ll get to Mary Poppins. A Norland Nanny’s salary starts at £26,000 a year, that’s more than S$47,000!
Cons: Nannies only take care of your kids. You’ll have to do all the cleaning yourself or hire a helper for that.
Costs: You can hire a temporary nanny by the hour. NannyPro charges $15-$25 per hour. Full-time nannies are more expensive because you’re paying for experience.
Find a nanny through Nanny Pro or Find a Nanny

Confinement Nanny
A confinement nanny is someone who takes care of you and your infant specifically during your confinement period.
Roles: She prepares healthy confinement meals and your confinement baths, plus provides infant care and assistance with baby feeding and diaper changing. Some of them double up as night nurses. A confinement nanny also takes care of basic household cleaning and laundry as well as provides advice and tips on babycare for frazzled first-time mums.
Pros: Yours and baby’s every need will be taken care of (round the clock), by a trained professional during your confinement period.
Cons: Confinement nannies usually only stick around for the first month. But, it’s becoming increasingly popular to get them to stay for a few more weeks or months, until the mother gets a hang of things. Either way, you’ll have to bid goodbye to your confinement nanny sooner or later!
Costs: Varies according to live-in, daytime, nighttime or ad hoc, experience and independent or agency. A confinement nanny’s basic salary starts at around $2800 for 28 days, not including traditional red packets on first and last day, food expenses or levy charges.
Find a confinement nanny through Thomson Medical Centre or NannySOS. You can also send your current helper to attend a confinement nanny training course at Thomson Medical Centre.

Babysitter
A babysitter is a person who lives near you or your workplace, and who’s willing to watch your child for short periods of time.
Roles: Picking up child from school, childcare and sometimes light cooking for the child.
Pros: You might use these babysitters on an adhoc basis, but they are still experienced and reliable professionals. So, you know your kids are in good hands.
Cons: Since it depends a lot on proximity, if your schedules don’t line up, you’ll be in a spot of trouble.
Costs: Prices range by experience and starts from $18 an hour
Find a babysitter through Agent Bong, or Babysitters.sg

Credits: First featured on Honeykids, by Sheralyn Loh

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