Babies are best at home with their parents, says one of the few blokes in the country who provides home-based childcare.

Jeremy Hicks, a Pukekohe meatworks dispatcher and volunteer firefighter, is not your stereotypical early childhood carer. But when he and wife Samantha got sick of paying $450 a week for childcare, and before- and after-school care, he quit his job at the meat factory.

He now stays home to look after his 3-year-old daughter Mika, as well as Ciaran, 4, and Michael, 7, when they get home from kindy and school.

In addition, he cares for Blake Armstrong, 3, one day a week, and brothers Kolby, 3, and Keating Fuimaono, 2, three mornings a week.

And Hicks says that if mum and dad do have to work, their little one should go into home-based care for "one-on-one attention".

The 29-year-old says parents should "shop around" before choosing a good quality carer "who connects with your kid".

He takes the younger four in his charge to playgroups, the library, music, parks and on play-dates. He gets a kick out of them "running around laughing and having fun".

He reckons they have more fun and attention with him then at daycare.

Hicks left his job to care for the kids after he and his wife decided that Samantha's job in occupational therapy at Middlemore Hospital was more financially secure. She too is a volunteer firefighter.

"When I started looking for part-time work I thought no one would want a guy looking after kids. But Porse was really supportive," he says.

Being an in-home carer pays him a good hourly rate per child, gives him tax breaks as a self-employed worker, and allows time for him to study accounting.

His mates initially thought him "crazy", but have got used to his role.

Some days are "mentally challenging" and he jokes "they are all terrible (at) 2 and 3."But he loves it.

He's outnumbered by mothers at playgroups, he says. So: "I know how my wife feels at the fire station."