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A 6-Step Guide to Hiring a Safe Nanny

Written by | Updated June 8, 2020
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Last Updated: Less than 6 months
We’ve updated this page with relevant information regarding daycare closures due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Share your experience in the comments to tell us how coronavirus has affected your childcare routine.

There are a lot of things to think about when hiring a nanny, and safety is, undoubtedly, at the top of your list. To help make the hiring process less overwhelming, we’ve put together this step-by-step guide to hiring a caregiver you can trust. 

1. Outline your needs

Establishing what you’re looking for in a nanny can make it much easier to find a trustworthy one who blends in well with your family. Take some time to decide upon your nanny’s duties, anticipated schedule, and salary. Jot down personality traits that you’d prefer, but try to keep an open mind. 

A few things to consider:

  • Do they have a car they can use to transport your child?
  • Do they have a clean driving record?
  • Are they CPR certified?
  • Do they have experience with or being around children?

Consider how often you’ll need a nanny and when they should be available. Do you need them to live with you and help watch the kids while you work? If you need more than a sitter for the next date night, start factoring a nanny into your budget.

2. Find nanny candidates

Get recommendations from people you trust, including friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Consider using social media to help find quality candidates, or search nanny profiles on sites like Care.com, SitterCity.com, or UrbanSitter.com. If you don’t mind paying a fee, you can also work with a nanny placement company.

Playing it safe with COVID-19

With the coronavirus still a concern nationwide, consider how you and your family have been handling the situation. Do you need a sitter to take the childcare responsibilities while you work from home? Will you require them to quarantine with you or separately before they start their job?

Include questions like these in your vetting process and ask potential candidates how they’ve approached childcare during the coronavirus pandemic.

3. Interview prospects

This is your chance to get to know your nanny candidates and introduce them to your family, routine, and expectations. A great nanny can be flexible with multiple children and have an open schedule to help whenever they’re needed. 

This step should feel more like a conversation than an interview. Ask your potential nanny about their own interests, background, and personality (including how they handle stress and pressure).

Start with some basics 

If you’ll be home with the babysitter or nanny regularly, you may just need to cover the basic questions. 

At minimum, ask the following questions:

  • Have you taken classes in child care?
  • Are you certified in CPR/first aid?
  • How do you discipline a child?
  • How do you deal with tough situations like a baby crying nonstop or a child disobeying you?
  • Are you unwilling to complete a pre-employment background check?

Share your expectations

If you’ve found your candidates through a nanny referral agency, they may already have a clear picture of what you want in your next nanny. But if you’re looking for a local nanny through word of mouth or online, it’s best to share your expectations from the start. 

  • Give them a job description and schedule. Will they be working full time, part-time, or on-call? 
  • Tell them about your children. Do your kids have any special needs or medications their nanny will need to help with?
  • Set benchmarks. Tell them what makes a good nanny in your eyes. Does a qualified nanny have a college degree or certifications in early childhood education? Would they be expected to help your child in school? Or do you need an extra pair of helping hands around the house?
  • Share the pay range. Your nanny candidates will want to know more about their salary or hourly pay. You don’t need to give them a set number, but providing a pay range can help.

4. Ask for and check references

When it comes to finding a safe nanny, one of the biggest mistakes parents make is not asking for references. 

Ask your candidates for three references from past employers (no friends or personal contacts). Follow through by contacting each reference. 

Former employers can give you insight into the nanny’s trustworthiness, strengths, and weaknesses, so this step should help you narrow your candidate list down to just one or two options.

5. Conduct a trial run

The ideal nanny won’t hesitate to meet and spend time with your child as part of the interview process. Set up a short trial period of 3 to 7 days to make sure the situation is a comfortable fit for all parties. 

It’s a good idea to remain present for the first day or two, as watching the child-nanny interaction can help you decide if you’re comfortable with the arrangement. If that goes smoothly, allow the nanny more autonomy for the remaining time of the trial period. 

At the end of the week, check in with the nanny—and your child, if they’re old enough—to see how things went. 

Authenticity is important


Whether you’re hiring a live-in nanny or regular babysitter, this trial is a chance to let them get a peek at your real routine and children’s behavior. While there’s nothing wrong with helping them feel comfortable, keep your schedule and routine business as usual.

6. Hire your new nanny

If all goes well with the trial run, make the nanny a more permanent offer of employment. However, if you have any hesitation at the end of the run, trust your instincts and turn the nanny down. It may seem hard to move on to the other candidates after investing so much effort, but you’ll be much happier down the line if you hire a nanny you’re confident in. 

Draft a contract for your nanny, even if they’re part-time or on-call. A contract keeps expectations, pay, time off, and duties clear for you and your new nanny.

Nanny alternatives

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Wyze Cam Pan

  • 360° field of vision
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For a bit of extra confidence and peace of mind, you may also consider something like a nanny cam. There are several great options on the market and keep in mind that general home security cameras can double as your nanny cam too.

Follow these steps to find a safe, well-suited nanny for your family, but keep in mind that the process may take a while. Be patient though, the ideal nanny is out there.

Finding a nanny FAQ 

What qualities make a good nanny for infants?

The best nannies can handle children of any age. But if you’re looking for a sitter for your infant, they should know basic safety procedures like CPR and the Heimlich maneuver for infants. 

How much should I pay my nanny?

Like anything, child care pay falls on a scale. When deciding on your nanny’s salary or hourly rate, consider how many children they’ll be watching and for how long. Any advanced degrees or years of experience can also increase their pay. 

Care.com recommends at least starting at $16 per hour for any nanny or babysitter. 

What’s the difference between a nanny and a babysitter?

While both nannies and babysitters care for kids, nannies tend to live in the home with the family they work with. Babysitters are generally on call for occasional work and tend to be in high school or college. Nannies generally have a degree or formal education.  

Can a nanny help with my child’s schoolwork?

Of course. If you’re looking for tutoring help for your child, it helps to mention this to the nanny before you hire them. 

Just wondering where Mary Poppins got her flying umbrella?

We’re guessing Hogwarts.

Written by Katie McEntire

Katie McEntire has tested home security systems in her own apartment, installed GPS trackers in her own car, and watched her cat, Toki, nap all day through a live nanny cam feed. As an expert reviewer, she believes that firsthand experience is the best way to learn about new products (even if it requires being the guinea pig). She specializes in pet safety and DIY security and has contributed to publications like DigitalCare.org and TechGuySmartBuy. Learn more

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