How To Choose The Right Nanny

Tips for choosing the best nanny for your family

Nanny helping with homework
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Choosing a nanny to care for your child(ren) can be a very overwhelming and stressful process. Where do you look? What is the cost? What questions do you ask? What should you expect?

Before you start the process, here are a few ground rules.

Know What You Are Offering

Do you have set hours? Will you need flexibility but can guarantee a certain amount a week? Do you need someone who can stay late? Will you be working from home?

Are you planning on having more kids in the near future? Knowing what you need allows you to find the right fit and set proper expectations for both you and the caregiver.

Know Yourself

Are you a new parent and want someone who will provide advice? Are you controlling and need someone who can handle being micro-managed? Do you need someone proactive or reactive? Someone who will set up playdates without your involvement?

Do Your Homework

The nanny search can be tiring, emotional and time-consuming, but it is important to feel confident in your decision and not cut corners. Back up your decision with in-person interviews, by checking references, doing background checks and having a trial so you can feel comfortable.

Written Agreement

A simple work agreement will spell out what you and the nanny have agreed upon. Things to include are pay, holidays, vacation time, sick days and other specifics that may come up in the future.

Nothing complicated or long is necessary.  

It is important to think about what you want in a childcare provider. A mixture of Mary Poppins and Super Nanny may sound wonderful, but is unrealistic. Make a list of your “must have’s” and then your “would like’s.”

Examples Of “Must Have’s”

  • Will work the days/hours you need  
  • Not allergic to your pet
  • Experience with children your child’s age
  • Will work for the amount you can offer them
  • Do they get paid on or off the books
  • Able to provide references

Examples Of “Would Like’s”

  • Will do light housekeeping/child’s laundry
  • Will text and send pictures
  • Will cook for your child
  • Familiar with your the area and age-appropriate activities

The “must haves” can be asked during a phone interview. The goal of the phone interview is to weed out candidates who are unable to fit your needs. If you feel comfortable from the phone interview that the candidate can fulfill your requirements, you can set up an in-person interview while on the phone or call them back and schedule it. For the in-person interview, it is best to choose a time when your child is awake and preferably, fed and happy. 

If you are interested in pursuing a nanny, is it important to speak to their references. Either on the phone interview or in-person ask the candidate for references. If a candidate will not provide references, that is a big red flag. When you speak to a reference, try and get a sense of the other parent’s personality. Is it similar to yours? Does the parent sound genuine in his/her feelings about the nanny?

You can ask the parent to mention things you should be aware of and if the nanny did things the parent didn’t like. Ask the parent to be honest about the negatives.  If their situation was different than yours (she was a work-from-home and you work out of the house), ask if the parents planned the day or the nanny did.

Good communication with your nanny might be the most essential aspect of the caregiver relationship. During your interview pay attention to the candidates communication skills. Does she answer the questions you ask? Does she appear confident in her abilities? Would you feel comfortable discussing concerns with her?

Is she open to giving advice and discussing your child’s development (if that is important to you)?

You should also think about what type of personality will fit best with your family. Do you want someone laid back? Do you want someone with high energy? These decisions may be based on your particular child’s temperament or may be based on the need for a yin to your yang. A good nanny will become part of your family so it is essential that you pay attention to personality traits during the interview process. If your gut tells you there is something off with a candidate, you are probably right. You want to go to work feeling that your child is safe and happy. Trust yourself!

*Suggested interview questions for infants, twins and toddlers*

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