NANNIES and au-pairs are no longer the preserve of the wealthy.
As childcare centre costs soar, waiting lists grow and demand for work-related flexibility increases, middle-income earners are for the first time bringing childcare into their own homes.
Amanda Zann said the cost of sending her two boys to long daycare two days a week was almost as much as paying their nanny to mind them at home.
"I needed to go to work and it was really difficult for me,'' she said.
Ms Zann's eldest child Patrick, 3, has a nut allergy which also prompted her to call a nanny agency. "That's much more manageable at home,'' she said.
"We certainly see nannying as an alternative to childcare and it's one that has flexibility.''
Night Nanny, which began with one customer less than 18 months ago, now has about 500 in NSW.
"It's just grown and grown. Every month is bigger than the last,'' director Annmarie Sansom said.
Most of the demand is coming from mothers returning to work.