You’re on the hunt for a new nanny. Great! The relationship between a family and their nanny is one that can be quite rewarding.
But not all nannies are created equal. What does your family need?
Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, authors of The Nanny Diaries, suggest finding someone who really enjoys kids and understands how to strike that balance between being a part of their world (playing with them) and structuring that world (disciplining and teaching them).
We’ve outlined a few more key things to look out for when looking for a new nanny.
For more advice, check out these 19 Things to Look for in a Babysitter.
In a recent poll, 55 percent of Care.com families said that patience is the most important thing in a nanny. “Patience is an obvious essential for anyone who works with kids,” says Kraus. A nanny needs to be able to handle long days spent caring for kids and their emotional needs.
Reliability is also critical when transitioning a new child care provider into your family’s lives. Will the person show up on time, to help your life run smoothly? During reference checks, parents should look out for warning signs such as a past employer mentioning frequent sick days or lack of initiative, says Weronika Dubois, owner of Mother’s Helper. “It is crucial that you find a nanny who is dependable.”
While there are no legal criteria that a nanny must have in order to be a nanny, you should look for certifications and classes to show that the candidate takes this role seriously and is qualified to watch your child. For example, is your nanny certified as a newborn care specialist? Or has your nanny taking a basic skills test? Check out these 12 Nanny Training Courses and Certifications for ideas of what to look for.
- Extensive Hands-On Experience
Qualified nannies should have first-hand experience with small babies and young children other than their own. This ensures they can manage sleep training, scheduling, diaper rash, soothing, and feedings.
It’s also a good idea to do a test run with your potential nanny. “Shadowing the mother for a few days will give the new nanny a chance to get acquainted with the home,” says Dubois. “It will also give the children a chance to get acquainted with her.”
- Professional References
A caregiver should have, of course, a clean background check and impeccable references. Checking your applicant’s references is the most effective method in measuring her work ethic. Ask to talk to at least 5 references — including two personal ones. If your prospective nanny is reluctant to provide this information, take it as a red flag.
While it’s vital to learn a nanny’s qualifications, you also have to look at the big picture. “She is in your home and interacting with your family on a daily basis. That is why it is crucial to focus on the nanny as a person, not just her qualifications,” says Dubois. And most important, trust your instincts. Just because a person looks right on paper doesn’t mean she’s necessarily the right person for your family.
Kayla Mossien is a writer for prominent blogs and websites and is the former editor-in-chief of PARENTGUIDE News.