Choosing a Nanny for Your Baby
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.
- INA - International Nanny Association
INA is America's oldest and largest in-home child care industry association, serving nannies, parents, nanny agencies, educators and industry service professionals. INA was founded in 1985 to professionalize the nanny industry, to promote better emp
- America's Nanny Agency Finder, NannyNetwork.com. Find a Nanny Job
Nanny Resource for Nannies and Nanny Employers, find nanny agencies, nanny jobs, background investigators, nanny payroll tax services, nanny training and childcare links, and foreign nanny and aupair resources.
- Legal requirements for employing a nanny - BabyCenter
To legally hire a nanny you'll need to verify that she's eligible to work, pay social security taxes for her, and keep track of her tax deductions, medical benefits, and other insurance.
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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.
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.
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.