It has been the tradition in Brazilian families for grandparents and other family members to help in taking care of children from birth up to primary school age. The demands of modern living however have resulted in a greater need for child care centres and kindergartens in urban areas and so many commercial nurseries and day care centres have been created.
Private playgroups and pre-schools, which charge for their services, are divided into three age groups: Maternal (0-2 years); Jardim (3 years of age) and Pre-Escola (ages 4-5). Basic child-minding services are also run by local municipal governments: “Berçários” for babies and “Crèches” for toddlers.
Some families hire a nanny (babá), who may actually live in the family home, to take care of the children. Indeed childcare of this kind is one of the main areas where Brazilian women find employment. Although they may lack formal training, such nannies often become a trusted and integral part of the family unit, taking care of the children whenever they leave the home, and even during family holidays.
You can either find a nanny by word of mouth or through a recognised agency. Brazilian law requires employers to assume full responsibility for the nanny's employment, which means providing a signed contract and ensuring that all social benefit payments and taxes are kept up-to-date.
The customs of forming parental babysitting circles or using high school or university students as babysitters has not been common in Brazil up to now, but such practices are beginning to become more popular. Some young women working as nannies (or babás) may also be available for babysitting services in addition to their regular child-minding obligations. It’s also worth noting that large hotels often offer babysitting services for their guests as a temporary solution to your childcare needs.