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Choosing a Nanny for Your Baby

Updated on February 27, 2008

Hiring a nanny to care for your baby is a big decision. You don't want to invite just anyone into your home to care for your infant, so it is important to know what you should look for in a potential nanny. As a former nanny, my best advice for a family is to do your homework. The person you hire will fill an important role in your family, but will also be an employee. You need to make sure your nanny’s goals and ideas fit with yours.

Before you start, you need to decide what kind of nanny you want: live-in or out? Full or part-time? Do you want to hire one yourself or use an agency? What is your budget for hiring a nanny? Once you know what your expectations are, you can start placing ads. Another great way to find a nanny is by talking to other people. A friend’s nanny might have a friend, or a nanny might be available because her family is moving to a new city. Get the word out that you are looking for a nanny in as many ways as you can.

Shop for Nanny Related Books

Your nanny will spend a lot of quality time with your baby.
Your nanny will spend a lot of quality time with your baby.
Consider using an agency to find the perfect nanny for your family.
Consider using an agency to find the perfect nanny for your family.

Where do you start?


You need other people to vouch for your potential nanny’s reliability, honesty, personality, and temperament. Start with written references, but telephone conversations are an absolute must.

Past Experience

Hiring a nanny who has prior experience will make you feel more secure about leaving your baby in her care. I’m sure you’ve heard other parents talk about how much more relaxed they were with their second child than their first—well, the same thing applies for a nanny. Someone with experience will be less nervous and more adaptable to your baby’s needs.

Interview, Interview, Interview

Even if you find a candidate who you think will fit perfectly into your family, continue interviewing others. This will allow you to see all of the different options available to you. Bring every potential nanny back for a second interview, and even arrange a workday so you can see how she interacts with your baby.

Ask Lots of Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask personal questions of your candidates—you aren’t hiring a waitress; you are hiring someone to take care of your baby. At the same time, you should expect to be asked personal questions by potential nannies, like whether you plan on having more children, etc. In fact, if the nanny doesn’t have any questions, consider this a red flag. You don’t have to save the questions for interviews. When someone applies for the position, you should request a resume, ask her to fill out an application, and answer some questions in short essay form.

Possible Questions to Ask

1. Why do you want to be a nanny?

2. Why do you feel you would be a good nanny?

3. Describe your experiences with children (include scope of responsibilities, training, etc.)?

4. What have your experiences taught you about young children?

5. Describe a difficult situation that you’ve had with a child and how you handled it?

6. How would you discipline a misbehaving child?

7. Describe a time when you positively impacted the life of a child.

8. Give a short description of your family background.

9. How would you describe your life growing up?

10. How do you enjoy your leisure time?

11. How would you describe yourself?

12. What values are most important in your life?

13. What are your personal strengths?

14. What are your personal weaknesses?

15. Do you have any religious obligations or preferences, which would impact, on your life with the family?

16. Do you have any health problems that might affect your ability to be an effective nanny?

17. Describe your travel experiences.

18. Do your family and friends support your decision to be a nanny?

19. What would you do if you and a family disagreed on something?

20. What do you see as the nanny’s role in the family?

You don’t have to ask all of these questions, but ask the ones that fit in with your family’s situation. For example, if you want a nanny who will travel on vacations with you, it might be beneficial to know her past travel experiences. A nanny who is scared to fly might not be able to help on an airplane. Some of these questions are personal, but so is hiring a nanny.

Sign the Contract

Hiring a nanny isn’t like paying a babysitter. You should create a contract, describing the job duties, day, and hours you and the nanny have made. Include the salary, vacation, sick, and holiday pay you and the nanny have agreed upon. If you are hiring a live-in nanny, be sure to outline the arrangements in this contract. Both parties need to sign this contract before the nanny starts working.

What about Using an Agency?

When you hire a nanny yourself, you have to screen all of the applicants yourself, so it might be worth it to go through an agency. As a nanny, I actually preferred using an agency because they served as a mediator between me and the family—they do initial interviews, background checks, salary negotiations, etc. A good agency will have an intensive application process for both families and potential nannies before they make any matches.

Some agencies offer back-up services, so you won’t be left without a nanny if your regular one is sick, but you have an important meeting to attend. As well, if there ever are misunderstandings or disputes with your nanny, the agency can act as an objective third party.

If you decide to use an agency, be sure to check with a lot of different ones before making a decision. There are some great agencies out there, but some are just looking for a commission.

Last Words

When you decide to look for a nanny, start your search as early as possible. It could take some time to find the right person, and then check all of her references. As well, you will want to provide time for a nanny to obtain or update her infant CPR (if she doesn’t already have it).

Remember that your nanny will be an employee, but also hold a special place in your family. She will be one more person your baby will bond with, so you want to maintain a healthy relationship with her. Open communication about expectations, ideas, and schedules is the best way to keep everything running smoothly. Best of luck with your nanny search.


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Im a live in caregiver prgoram, Im a married canadian citizen. visa is already expiry, my question is. if i have a employer wants me sponsors? its is possible me and get a new working permit?

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Yeah I don't eat McD's and if I ever have kids they won't either. I was a high sohcol teacher and was often really horrified at the way people buckle to their children. I once confronted a family member at the way she fed her child and she said, But that's what she WANTS to eat. Phew! The kid is 2.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      This is a very intuitive page. You hit on some good points on all aspects of hiring a nanny. I think background checks are a must as well. We encourage all of our customers to request a background check on potential nannies. Very good article.


    • Leenie Pooh profile image

      Leenie Pooh 

      10 years ago

      Curious Nanny - interviewing can be stressful and it's possible that you come across as nervous or in an effort to appear professional you may come across as stiff or unnatural. If at all possible, suggest to the parents that meeting the child or children and giving you time to play and interact with the child be part of the interview process. Suggest that they leave you alone with the child for 30 to 60 minutes while they do things around the house. This gives them a chance to see how you interact with the child and how the child responds to you.

    • JeffHu profile image


      10 years ago from USA

      I totally agree with you. We need to do our homework first prior to find great nanny for taking care our children.

      My sister found her first Nanny job from this site.

    • profile image

      Curious Nanny 

      11 years ago

      Ramya and Stacie- Both of you mentioned a nanny having a warm and caring personality which hit a hot spot for me and I am hoping one of you might be willing to give me some advice. I am currently interviewing for nanny positions after working for six years with two different families. I had very pleasant experiences with both families and I received glowing letters of recommendation from both. Recently however two different mothers I met for interviews for a new position gave feedback that I did not have the "warmth" they were looking for. No examples were given and I am a little lost as to how this happened not once, but twice in a very short period of time. In all of the time I have been working with children(about 12 years), nobody has ever even hinted at a lack of warmth, in fact I usually get quite an opposite comment. If it was just one person I might brush it off, however two people in a short period of time makes me realize that I am doing something to give these mothers a red flag. Can either of you (or anyone reading this really) give me some examples of what you would consider a warm and caring personality when it comes to children? Thank you very much for your time!

    • belliott profile image


      11 years ago

      Excellent hub. great information.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Very helpful information for a lot of parents

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      This is a great article! I've worked as a nanny for nearly 3 years now and have been asked these questions numerous times. "Why do I want to be a nanny" is a question that I am most asked and normally is the first question in the interview. Though interviews could be different, as my friends have given me different feedback, these are very common questions!

    • LondonGirl profile image


      12 years ago from London

      I agree, it's a very important choice, for both family and nanny. We've had the same nanny since our son was a baby, and she loves him, and he loves her. She also fits in really well around our home.

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie Naczelnik 

      12 years ago from Seattle

      Ramya, sorry you feel that way, but I completely disagree with you. In fact, I've worked professionally as a nanny, and these are common questions.

      It is sad that you, and other parents you know, have never positively impacted a child's life. Very sad. Travel experiences can be important to families who want to hire a nanny who will travel on vacations with them. You are right that a nanny should be warm, caring, and willing to work with children, but you still can't find the right person without interviewing them first.

      Choosing someone to spend a lot of time with your children is a big decision. It isn't something to be taken lightly for most people.

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      This is the one of the most misguiding articles I have ever read, especially the questions to ask. How many nannies that one sees actually always wanted to be a nanny and why for God's sake should you ask about travel experiences. Most of us, parents I am sure have never "positively impacted a child's life", let alone someone who is a nanny. I think a nanny should be someone who is warm, caring and willing to work with children, not someone who can give readymade answers about why she is a nanny (no one is going to say that they hate children).

    • profile image


      13 years ago

      Interviewing a nanny is extremely important, and many potential problems in the employer/employee relationship can be avoided if the interview is properly conducted. If you only learn two things about interviewing let them be these: 1) depend on your intuition; and 2) interview twice before hiring.Be prepared to ask the right questions to tune into your feelings, since feelings are usually a good indicator in choosing the right nanny. Alth9ough you need to know about experience, training, background, specialized knowledge, driving record, etc., the more personalized questions will reflect your own priorities and be key to a successful match. "What if" questions are often helpful.When describing family expectations, be specific about duties, hours, salary, time off, etc. Seeing and hearing the candidate's reaction can provide valuable clues. Observe the nanny with your children. How do they interact? Is the nanny quiet or loud, shy or outgoing? Do the children like the nanny?Carefully weigh all information, double-check references (even if they come from an agency) and interview the candidate(s) you like a second time. Listen to your intuition and remember that this person will be a part of your private life. Is this the person you want in your home working with your children?

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Marshall 

      13 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Great tips and information! A definite thumbs up.

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie Naczelnik 

      13 years ago from Seattle

      Thanks Peter--it can be a very fulfilling job.

    • Peter M. Lopez profile image

      Peter M. Lopez 

      13 years ago from Sweetwater, TX

      My wife and sister both worked their way through undergrad being a nanny, and they loved it. I think they would both agree with your advice. Great hub, and good luck today.


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