Who’s the Right Nanny for Your Family?


Choosing a nanny that both you and your children love is often a difficult task. To find the right fit for your family, it can be helpful to consider that nannies often fall into one of three categories—seasoned nannies with years of experience; younger, professional nannies who often have children of their own; and inexperienced, 20-something nannies who may view a nanny position as relatively short term.

 Each category has its own set of special (albeit it admittedly stereotypical) advantages and disadvantages. You can help determine which type is best for your family and guide your search by evaluating the pros and cons of each.

The Mature, Seasoned Nanny

The Pros:

The seasoned, professional nanny is the most experienced childcare provider. She has years of experience caring for children. She has chosen to be a nanny as a career, and has put time into preparing for the job. She may have earned child development or early childhood education credits, and has first aid and CPR training. She is a mature, confident childcare expert, able to provide parents with information, share wisdom, and offer motherly advice. She is generally committed to the job for an extended period of time.

The Cons:

She has spent years honing her skills and discovering what works best, and may want to do things her way—even despite a parent’s directive.

Some parents’ methods may differ with her way of doing things, and they sometimes find it awkward to manage or direct a household employee who is older and more experienced.   With experience comes ages. An older nanny may lack the energy or physical stamina of her younger counterparts, and may have a tough time keeping up with a rambunctious toddler or with multiple children.

The Career Nanny

The Pros:

Generally in her 30s or 40s, the younger, professional nanny has less experience than her older counterparts, but has similar qualifications, maturity and confidence. She may also have more energy for keeping up with little ones, and be more comfortable managing an active family’s daily routine, as she is likely to relate to it and may have her own children. Many parents view a younger professional nanny as an ideal mix of experience and youthful stamina.

The Cons:

A nanny in her childbearing years may have kids of her own at home. While being in the midst of raising a family brings relevancy and perspective to the job, it may also equate to less flexibility—it’s not so easy for her to stay overtime or come in early. At this stage in her life, she has more personal responsibilities and her own childcare needs to meet. She may be unavailable when she has a sick child who is unable to go to school or daycare. She is likely committed to the job for an extended period of time, but her availability may change as her family’s schedule evolves.

The Inexperienced, 20-Something Nanny

The Pros:

In the eyes of your child, a young childcare providers is often the most fun and energetic.  She may be a recent college grad, working as a nanny to bridge the time between grad school or other professional plans; or a young adult looking to broaden life experience by moving to a new place (even a new country) and working as a nanny to support herself through a transition period. Kids relate to her youth. She is often hungry to earn money and may be more flexible due to fewer responsibilities.

The Cons:

The young nanny is the least experienced. She may lack maturity and  confidence, and may have difficulty establishing authority with children. She may have a busier social life and more outside activities, and may be distracted while adjusting to a new place or making plans for her next stage or career. She may view a nanny job as temporary, meaning you’ll soon be searching for a replacement.

Of course, these categories and their characteristics are generalized and not exhaustive, and are only factors to consider when choosing a type of nanny. The needs of each family are different so it is important to research, soul search and figure out your needs. You should also consider unique qualities and skills that may be priorities for your family, such as a provider with experience caring for special needs children, multiples or one who is willing to provide tutoring; and, of course, how well you and your children connect with a candidate. To find the right nanny, seek recommendations from friends, babysitters, university job boards, neighborhood forums, parenting groups, and from online services like UrbanSitter. Regardless of how you find a candidate, be vigilant about background searches, screenings, and reference checks, and spend as much time gauging the rapport you have or don’t have with a childcare provider. It’s vital that both you and your children feel comfortable, since how you both feel is just as important as what looks like a good fit on paper.

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