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Infant care fees in Singapore: My First Skool, PCF Sparkletots & more

Infant care services in Singapore can be very costly, with average fees starting from $1,000 a month.

Fortunately, we have a slew of childcare subsidies to help make fees more affordable. Since January this year, the schemes have also been further enhanced to make it easier for more Singaporean families to get higher subsidies for infant care.

So, about to have your first child? Then you need to start thinking about infant care — now. That is especially if you do not have parents or parents-in-law waiting in the wings, ready and available to help take care of your little one when you return to work. Or, you may prefer to send your baby to a dream pre-school to give them a head start.

Don’t forget, you can also utilise the funds in your Baby Bonus and CDA Account to pay for infant care fees, and enjoy dollar-for-dollar matching by the government.

To see what subsidies you are now eligible for and how much infant care fees generally cost in Singapore, read on!


How much does infant care cost in Singapore?

Infant care generally costs more than childcare in Singapore due to the lower teacher to child ratio.

Fees vary widely between pre-schools. For simplicity’s sake, let’s compare the fees at a government appointed pre-school versus a private operator.

There are currently five pre-schools that have been appointed an anchor operator by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA): PCF Sparkletots Preschool, My First Skool, MY World Preschool, Skool4Kidz and E-Bridge Pre-school.

Anchor operators receive more funding support from the government to keep fees affordable and build capabilities to raise the quality of their education. They have to keep to a monthly fee cap of $1,275 (excluding GST) for full-day infant care, and ensure any fee increases are kept affordable for parents.

There are also 23 ECDA partner operators that have to cap their fees at $1,400 (excluding GST) for full-day childcare and infant care respectively.

But if you’d like to go the private route and enrol your baby in a more premium pre-school such as Pat’s Schoolhouse or Tots & Teddies, be prepared to pay upwards of $2,000 a month.

Infant care subsidies in Singapore

Currently, all families with Singapore citizen children are entitled to a Basic Childcare Subsidy, as long as the child is enrolled in an Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) licensed childcare centre.

The amount of Basic Childcare Subsidy your family is eligible for is dependent on the mother’s employment status. Working mothers will receive a higher subsidy of $600 for full-day infant care (aged two to 18 months); while non-working mothers will only be given $150.

To enjoy even lower childcare fees, families who meet certain income and employment criteria can also apply for the Additional Subsidy, on top of the Basic Childcare Subsidy.

Since January this year, the means-tested subsidies have been enhanced to make pre-schools more affordable. The gross monthly household income ceiling for Additional Subsidy has been raised to $12,000, or $3,000 on Per Capita Income (PCI) basis for larger families with at least 3 dependents. The subsidy amounts across all income tiers qualifying for Additional Subsidy has also increased to up to $710 for infant care.

In addition to income eligibility, the mother or single father should also be working at least 56 hours a month in full, part-time or freelance work arrangements.

Families who are still unable to afford infant care fees even after the Basic and Additional Subsidies can apply for further financial assistance at their infant care centre. They can also apply for a one-time grant to cover the initial start-up costs of enrolling a child in the centre.

To be eligible, the child should be a Singapore citizen and enrolled in an affordable infant care centre. Both parents should also be working at least 56 hours per month; or produce valid reasons for being unable to work, such as being on medical leave, under incarceration, looking for work, or certified as a full-time caregiver for a dependent. The application should be supported by relevant supporting documents.

With the enhanced subsidies, these are the fees you could expect to pay at anchor/partner operator and private pre-schools:

At an anchor operator:

Monthly household income$3,000 and under$5,000 and under$8,000 and under$12,000 and underMore than $12,000
Fees before subsidy$1,364
Basic Subsidy$600
Maximum Additional Subsidy$710 (Up from $500 previously)$500 (Up from $200 previously)$240 (Previously unavailable)$40 (Previously unavailable)Unavailable
Family now pays$54$264$524$724$764

At a premier pre-school:

Monthly household income$3,000 and under$5,000 and under$8,000 and under$12,000 and underMore than $12,000
Fees before subsidy$2,312
Basic Subsidy$600
Maximum Additional Subsidy$710 (Up from $500 previously)$500 (Up from $200 previously)$240 (Previously unavailable)$40 (Previously unavailable)Unavailable
Family now pays$1,002$1,212$1,472$1,672$1,712

When to register for infant care?

In general, babies in Singapore can start infant care from two months to 18 months of age.

Be warned that many of the popular pre-schools in Singapore can have a very long waiting list, some extending to more than a year. So if your heart is set on a particular pre-school, it may be wise to call them up months before your baby is even born to register your interest.

Should you place your baby in infant care?

The biggest advantage of infant care is the assurance that your baby is being looked after by qualified early childhood education professionals who can provide a stimulating and educational environment for your little one. Some premium pre-schools also boast specialised methodology such as the Montesorri or Reggio Emilia approaches.

But if you would like your baby to have more dedicated, one-to-one care in the comfort and security of your own home, you also have the option of hiring a babysitter, a nanny or domestic helper. You can hire one either through word of mouth of one of the many agencies in Singapore.

Hiring a nanny for your baby

Nannies are a good option if you want live-in help who can take care of your baby 24/7 (yes, even through the night!). Some nannies may also be willing to do some housework and cook meals for you and your family. Highly sought after experienced nannies in Singapore can cost upwards of $3,000 a month for their service.

Hiring a babysitter for your baby

Babysitters are a better option if you only require care for your baby while you are away at work. Fees vary widely based on experience but in general, full-time babysitters from a reputable agency who work daily from Mondays to Fridays for a maximum of 10 hours per day are usually paid a monthly fee of at least $1,800. You may be able to negotiate the fee down if you agree to send your baby down to the babysitter’s house instead.

Hiring a domestic helper for your baby

Hiring a maid to take care of children is a popular option among people in Singapore as it offers bang for buck. You get a live-in nanny and helper all rolled into one — for less than half the cost of a nanny. The cost of hiring a maid in Singapore ranges from $860 to $1,110 a month.

However, It goes without saying that not all domestic helpers know how to take care of children well. And if you overload them with housework, they may not have the time and energy to give your little one undivided attention.

If you are hiring a domestic helper for the specific purpose of taking care of your baby, zero in on one who has extensive childminding experience at the interview stage. Ask her if she has worked with babies before and other behavioural questions such as how she handles babies who cry a lot, or what she would do if the baby fell. These will give you a better sense of what she is like as a caregiver.

With all that said, it still boils down to your personal preference and beliefs about how you want your newborn to be looked after in those formative years of his or her young life. Crunch the numbers, then go with your heart and gut to make the best decision for your little one.

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