Choosing a nanny may be one of the most important decisions that you will make when it comes to your child's care. Not only is your nanny responsible for the health and immediate wellbeing of your child, but your nanny should also be able to provide a loving, nurturing, and well-structured environment in which your child can flourish and grow. But what should you look for when it comes to choosing a nanny? And how do you go about finding a nanny? Here are some of the important basics to know when it come to choosing the right nanny for your child.

What is a Nanny?
When we hear the word "nanny," most of us immediately think of Mary Poppins parachuting in on her umbrella. However, most nannies don't use umbrellas as travel vehicles, nor do they fit the traditional Mary Poppins mold.

Nannies are loosely defined as anyone that you hire to help look after your children and perform child care-related duties. Nannies can be male or female, and can range in age from 18 to 70 years and older. Unlike au pairs, nannies have lots of experience in childcare and usually work unsupervised, engaging in play activities, meal preparation, and other such tasks. Nannies can work on a full-time or part-time basis, and can live in or out of your home. Some nannies have professional child care skills and related education.

What are a Nanny's Responsibilities?
Nannies have a big role to fill: they are responsible for the physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being of your child. Nannies typically work between 40 and 60 hours a week, and can work up to 10 hours on any given day. Nanny services often include:

  • tending to the physical needs of your children (including meal preparation, feeding, clothing, and bathing)
  • organizing and participating in safe play activities and games
  • providing behavioral modeling and guidelines
  • providing discipline when necessary
  • performing child-related housekeeping (including laundry, light cleaning)
  • driving children to school, activities, and appointments
  • organizing fun and educational outings

What Training Do Nannies Have?
Nanny training can vary widely amongst individual candidates. Some nannies have no formal training, while others have completed a variety of professional development courses. It is wise to look for a nanny that has completed:

  • CPR training
  • first aid training
  • some child development training (including nutrition and disciplinary techniques)

You might also look for a nanny that has completed a certificate, diploma, or degree in Early Childhood Education or Child Development.

Live-In or Live-Out Nannies?
When hiring a nanny, it is important to determine whether you would like live-in or live-out childcare. There are benefits and drawbacks to both types of nannies.

    Live-In Nannies
    Live-in nannies live with you in your home. You must provide them with a private room where they can sleep, relax, and spend private time. Many live-in nannies also require private bathrooms and access to a vehicle for transportation.

    Live-in nannies can offer you the advantage of flexible hours and are often there during household emergencies, when you most need extra care. Live-in nannies often become a meaningful part of the family, and you never have to worry about them being late for work! However, it can be difficult to have another adult living in your home, and you must be able to provide her with a space to entertain her own family and friends.

    Live-Out Nannies
    Live-out nannies arrive at your house at the beginning of the day and leave when you get back home at the end of the day. They perform all of the typical duties of a nanny, but do not live in your household. This means that you don't have to offer them room and board and you don't have to worry about introducing another adult into the household.

    However, it does mean that your nanny may have less flexible hours and will have to rely on her own transportation to get to work. Live-out nannies also tend to be viewed more as employees than family members.

Finding a Nanny
Nannies are typically found in one of two ways: privately or through a nanny agency. If you choose to find your own nanny, you will have to advertise, interview and screen applicants, and perform reference checks on your own. You will also have to draw up your own contract.

Electing to use a placement agency means that the agency will find, screen, and check all candidates. You can then select a candidate from a short-list of possibilities. Placement agencies are often beneficial because they can locate qualified applicants in short amounts of time. However, they will charge you a placement fee, which can range between $250 and $500.

Choosing the Right Nanny for You
Choosing the right nanny can take time, but it will pay off in the future. Here are some tips when it comes to choosing a great nanny for you children:

  • Consider Experience: Experienced nannies tend to be a safe bet, especially when it comes to dealing with infants and young children. Decide how much experience you would be comfortable with and limit your choices to these applicants.
  • Check References: Reference checks are vital when it comes to hiring a nanny. A nanny may seem good on paper, but this doesn't mean that she will be able to cut it when it comes to looking after your children. Be sure to call all of your nanny's references.
  • Ask for a Background Check: Anyone who is going to be looking after your children should have a background check performed on them. Your local police department will perform background checks for a minimal cost. These checks will ensure that your nanny has had no criminal charges laid against him.
  • Consider Personality: Your nanny is going to be spending a lot of time looking after your children, and may be spending quite a bit of time with you, as well. Take the time to find a nanny with a dynamic personality who you and your children can get along with.

For more information on how to choose the right nanny check out our child care videos.