You only want the best for your baby, so hiring the right nanny is a decision of great importance. After all, your hope is that this person has a long-term relationship with you and your family, and she will be spending long hours with your baby. Here are some tips to help you make this very important decision.
- The Non-Negotiables
Some things are just basic requirements that you should require of all professional caregivers. Every nanny should have a basic knowledge of child safety and should have taken a CPR and First Aid class. Additionally, you should check that your prospective nanny has appropriate immigration status. If the nanny will be driving your child anywhere, you should check that the nanny has a valid driver’s license, insurance on their vehicle, and no outstanding legal entanglements. By going through a reputable agency, you may not have to be as concerned about these things since most agencies screen for these issues.
- Personality and Parenting
After you’ve screened your candidates for the basic requirements, you’ll still have a wide variety of applicants. The following criteria can help you narrow down the search and find someone who will work well for your needs.
- Non-judgemental–All families are different and you want someone who can celebrate the differences in your family rather than judge you negatively. As a new parent, you will have to find your way on your own, and you don’t want to have to learn to parent with someone judging you harshly for your mistakes.
- Respectful of you as the parent–Many working mothers struggle with the idea that their baby will be spending so much time with someone other than themselves. You want a nanny who will foster the relationship that you will have with your child, rather than taking over unnecessarily. Your nanny should see herself as a helper to you, not an extra parent. Likewise, your nanny should be supportive of your feeding choices. The way that you choose to feed your baby is not a moral decision, so if you decide to formula feed, breastfeed or do a combination of both, your nanny should be comfortable with all of these options.
- If you’ve worked with an expert to develop a sleep training regimen, make sure that the nanny is willing to follow through on the daily routines that will make sleep training effective.
- Warm and Caring–You want someone to care for your baby who loves infants, preschoolers, and toddlers and gives off a warm, loving vibe. You want someone who takes their calling seriously, but doesn’t take a child’s behavior personally. Sometimes, the baby will be unhappy, but a good nanny should be able to take that in stride.
Prospective nannies should be able to provide references, both personal and professional. Even a young nanny who is just beginning to establish a client base should be able to provide at least two names of families for whom she has provided childcare. When you interview past employers, you may want to ask the following questions:
- What were the dates for the nanny’s employment?
- How old were the children she was caring for?
- What are this person’s strengths and weaknesses in caring for children?
- Why did the nanny stop working for you? Be sure to remember that there are two sides to every story, so if there is a negative reason, be sure to ask probing questions to get more detail.
- Do you feel that this caregiver was reliable? Mature? Responsible?
- How well did the nanny communicate?
- Did you ever have concerns over safety when your children were in this person’s care?
- Did the nanny ever take the child places without permission? Did she ever allow others, such as friends or family members, to interact with your child?
- How did the nanny handle emergency situations?
- How did she handle feedback and direct instruction?
- Was she comfortable bringing problems to you? Did she do this excessively?
- How does the nanny handle stressful situations, like naughtiness or an inconsolable child?
- Would you hire her again?
- Other Criteria
Most people do want educated caregivers taking care of their children, but if a caregiver is otherwise perfect, don’t let a lack of a college degree deter you from hiring her. It is much more important for a nanny to mesh with your parenting style and your family than for her to have the perfect college education. The nanny may have other training that is just as valuable such as musical skills, artistic abilities, or foreign language training. You may want to offer continuing education to your nanny as part of her pay or training in some other area that is important to your family. Also, if you have more than one applicant that appeals to you, ask if the nanny would be interested in being on your list for short-term work or last-minute emergencies. Sometimes your primary caregiver will be ill or have an emergency, so you’ll want a list of backup providers who can help you when you need it.