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What Qualifications Should You Look for in a Nanny?

By Erin Ollila

You made a great decision to hire a nanny for your family. Now you need to start the hiring process. Here are six credentials to help as you sift through the resumes of qualified candidates.

Experience

One of the many factors to consider is what type of hands-on experience the candidate previously has had as a nanny or child caregiver. You’ll want to find someone who has nannied or worked with children before, and make sure their experience is with babies and toddlers. You’ll want your nanny to have experience with infant-related topics such as sleep training, teething, eating milestones, or anything else related to this very young age group. If you’re part of a nanny share, it’s also important to search for a nanny with experience for caring for more than one child at a time.

Patience

You love your little one with all your heart, but you know that it takes effort to remain calm in the face of meltdowns, crying fits, or tantrums. It’s important to you that your children have a caretaker who is just as patient with them as they grow into communicators and sort through their emotions as you would be.

So, how do you determine whether a nanny is patient via their resume or by the communication you have with them during an interview? You have two options: first, ask the same question of them multiple times and in different ways. Are they responding to you with patience and kindness?

Second, provide them with a few scenarios—like a tantrum in the middle of a museum or a potty training accident in the middle of the store or a meltdown disagreement between two toddlers— and ask how they’d handle it. The answers will be telling. Who knows—if you find an all-star nanny, you might even learn a few pointers to use yourself!

Reliability & Punctuality

Your nanny is an extension of yourself, so it’s important that you find one who is dependable and will show up on time and be there when expected.

Suzanne Brown, mom of two boys, says, “More than anything, I look for someone who will be present and fun for my child while being consistent and reliable. I need her to show up when she says she will. That starts to show with the first in-person interaction.”

Hiring the right-for-you nanny means you’ll feel confident knowing they’ll show up when you need them to, and that they won’t be calling out of work frequently. Every time they show up late or call out of work means that you too will be late for your job, and if you can’t call in backup help from a friend or family member, you’ll need to call out of work, too. And no one wants that.

But how can you determine if the candidate has what it takes?

“I always call all of their references with questions about trust and dependability,” says New York City mom, Laura Leigh Abby.

The interview is also a great opportunity to judge their dependability. Did they show up early, on time, or late for the interview? Consider how long it takes them to reply to your emails or return phone calls. These are all indicators of how they’ll be when working with you. Scheduling and time organizational skills are important qualifications great nannies possess.

Excellent Communication Skills

Great nannies know how to communicate well with both the little ones and the parents! As parents, you’ll spend a lot of time relaying information to your nanny and receiving information back from her. Similar to how you’ve determined reliability and punctuality, you’ll want to monitor their communication type during the interview process. How quickly do they respond to you? Will they take personal calls or text messages while watching your child? If so, consider that a red flag. Of course personal emergencies happen, and your nanny might need to use her phone while watching your child, but this should be sparingly, and if it occurs during an interview or trial period, they should bring it to your attention first.

Finally, in the interview, you can explain your preferred communication style, such as wanting updates throughout the day or that you’d only like a call if there’s an issue. Doing so sets the stage for excellent communication moving forward.

Education and Training

Are you wondering if your nanny needs a bachelor's degree in early childhood education or child psychology? While either of those degrees would be nice-to-have, there are no legal criteria that require nannies have traditional schooling. There are so many incredible nannies with hands-on experience without degrees.

However, there are certain certifications nannies may have, like CPR and first aid training. These certifications expire, so if your nanny is certified, make a copy of their current cards and mark down on your calendar when they’re due for recertification. Depending on your lifestyle, you may also want someone who has foreign language skills, training in the arts, or you may request that your nanny get certified as a lifeguard if you have a pool.

Engagement

Most of all, it’s important to see the potential nanny interacting with your child, or both children if you’re participating in a nanny share.

Abby says, “I want to see them interact with my child, which is very telling.”

Recommendations are excellent sources to find out information on the qualifications mentioned here. Speak with parents they’ve worked with in the past, and ask questions about their dependability, skills, and weaknesses.

Looking for more childcare tips, advice, and empowerment? Check out more posts on our CozyBlog!

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