How to Choose a Nanny

It is daunting to hand over your baby to someone else to look after. You will need to develop a close relationship with your child’s caregiver, so take the time to interview prospective nannies well in advance, then go with your gut feelings: they are almost always right.

  • Draw up a full job description, involving every aspect of your baby’s day-to-day care, and what you’d like to see happening

  • Write this down in a bullet-pointed list, so you can talk through each aspect and issue and get feedback, ideas, and opinions

  • Make sure you have your baby in tow at interviews—prospective nannies should be interested, playful, and affectionate with her

  • Check that she has emergency first-aid training and ask to see her childcare certifications, diplomas, and driver’s licence

  • Talk to at least two personal and professional references

  • Her basic knowledge of and views on child development should be up to date and consistent with yours

  • She should have plenty of ideas for stimulating your baby

  • She should share your approach to nutrition and meal planning, or be prepared to adopt it

  • She should absolutely share your views on discipline

  • Organizational skills are essential, and she should be able to keep track of everything in your little one’s daily life

  • Ask where she sees herself in five years’ time—continuity of care is important to small children

  • Ask for details of her strengths and weaknesses, and be wary if she says she has none of the latter

  • Make sure she’s flexible, and won’t mind working longer hours from time to time, or planning some of her holidays when you have yours

How to Choose a Home Day Care

Having your baby looked after in someone else’s home is often a good solution to the childcare dilemma, and your little one will benefit from the company of a small group of other children. Look for:

  • A good inspection report and registration if your state requires it—some states license and inspect home day cares, in which case you might want to ask to view the report

  • Not too many children—there are laws outlining how many children of each age can be cared for, and it’s important that this is maintained

  • A cheerful, friendly demeanor, and an obvious interest in children

  • Someone with plenty of ideas, willingly outlined, for stimulating your baby and keeping tabs on her development

  • A clean, welcoming, smoke-free home, with an outdoor play area

  • Knowledge and experience of first aid

  • A similar approach to yours to discipline, potty training, nutrition, and TV viewing

  • A willingness to enter into a contract that outlines hours, sick pay, what happens when your child is ill, changes to your child’s routine, and payment

  • Flexibility, so if you are running late or have an early start, you are covered

Keeping track

Ask your caregiver to write down some notes each day about what your baby did, including what she ate, what she played with, when she slept and for how long, and any milestones she may have reached.

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