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Looking for a nanny to take care of your little one can be a stressful and grueling process – but it doesn't have to be. As you begin your search, use these questions to help you find the nanny that's just right for your family.
Experience and training
Look for a nanny with experience. Ask to see a resume, and let her know that you'd be requesting a background check before hiring her. During the interview, also ask:
- How long have you been a nanny?
- How old were the other children you cared for?
- Do you have any formal training in early childhood development?
- Would you be willing to take classes to further your education in childcare?
- Do you have emergency training in CPR and first aid?
- If not, would you be willing to take classes in CPR and first aid?
- What would you do if my child got sick?
Philosophy and approach
Make sure a nanny's philosophy about childrearing is in line with yours. Ask each candidate why she's a nanny and what she likes best about the job. It's helpful and reassuring to know why she chose to work in this field and that she enjoys children. (Also, be sure to let her know if you have pets, and make sure she's comfortable having them around.)
On being a nanny:
- Why are you a nanny?
- What do you like best about the job?
- What do you find the most challenging about being a nanny?
- Why are you looking for a new position?
- Describe your ideal family/employer.
On dealing with children:
- What is your childrearing philosophy?
- What do children seem to like best about you?
- How do you discipline children? Can you give me an example of a previous discipline problem and how you handled it.
- How do you comfort children?
- How do you deal with separation anxiety?
- What are some of the rules you've followed in other households that you think worked well?
- Which rules haven't worked for you?
- Would you have a hard time following our family's strategies for disciplining and comforting our child if they're different from yours?
- Can you give me an example of how you would spend a typical day with my child? (See our daily log sheet.)
- What are your favorite activities to do with a child who is the same age as mine?
- If I'm working in the house, what would you do to keep my child happily occupied without involving me?
Logistics and salary
When it comes to practical and financial matters, find out whether the nanny you're considering could be a good fit by asking these questions:
- Are you looking for a live-in arrangement?
- If not, where do you live and how would you get to work? Would you bring your own food or expect meals to be provided?
- Do you have a functioning car with appropriate safety belts and room for car seats?
- Is your car insurance current? Have you ever had an accident?
- Do you smoke?
- Are you willing to do light chores while our baby is sleeping?
- Do you have any personal responsibilities or health issues that could interfere with a regular work schedule?
- When would you be able to start working?
- Would you ever be available to work evenings or weekends?
- Would you be available to travel with our family on weekends or vacations?
- When do you expect to take a vacation of your own?
What nannies charge varies widely, depending on where you live and how many hours she works. To get an idea of the going rate in your area, do some online research and talk to other moms who have nannies, then ask each candidate for her salary range.
Ask each candidate for a list of past and present references, and ask specific questions when you call them. For example, instead of asking whether they liked the nanny, ask what she did well and where there's room for improvement. Contact at least two references, although the more the better.
Interaction and observation
Give each candidate a chance to spend some time with your child in your home. Does she seem attentive? How does your child interact with her? Your observations matter a great deal when you finally make your choice. It may help to take a moment to ask yourself the following questions:
- Does she seem comfortable holding or speaking to your child?
- Was she pleasant?
- How did your child respond to her?
- Are the two of you able to communicate easily and effectively?
- While you're away from your child, will you feel at ease knowing your child is with her?