How Do You Find A Good Baby Sitter?

If you decide that you need an assistant to take care of the baby, there are many questions – where to look for a nanny, which is better – younger or older, with an education or more important love for children, is it normal if she has no children of her own and how to determine that the person is reliable and he can be trusted with the child?

Before you start your search, you should clearly define for yourself which kind of au pair you are looking for, how much time your babysitter will take care of the baby, whether the mother will be at home during this time, other responsibilities, the duration and frequency of the working days, etc. 

There is a wide range of options for working with an au pair. Based on your needs, try to determine exactly what you want. It is very likely that you will find it difficult to assess the extent of the work without any experience in taking care of the baby. This is ok, in time you will be able to adjust the babysitter’s work to your needs, reducing or, on the contrary, increasing the number of her working hours and expanding the list of powers. 

So, if the mother is planning to return to her work duties almost immediately after the birth of the baby or continue her studies, everything is clear here: she needs a nanny who will spend the whole day with the baby. And even if mum is planning to work from home, a full-time nanny would also be handy, giving her time to devote to her work in peace. You might not need to be at the office from morning to night (or you only study in the morning) and you might only be away for half a day or go to work on certain days of the week. In this case, it makes sense to look for a part-time or part-time helper. 

If there is no need to work, the nanny will simply be an assistant in the care of the baby, it will take off a young mother’s workload and allow from time to time to go out of the house for their own needs. But here, too, try to decide whether you need the presence of a nanny all day, or it will need you for a few hours, and then you can cope yourself. Or maybe the nanny’s duties will only include walking with your child. There is also the option of a nanny who only comes when you need her. Let’s say you know you have to be away for a few hours on a Tuesday. You tell the nanny ahead of time and she will take over for you at that time. This is especially useful when grandparents are not around and there is no one else to babysit. In short, you can always choose the option that will best meet the needs of your family.     

It is also important to decide what your nanny’s duties will be. Will it be just looking after your baby at home or will the nanny have to take him out for a walk and even take him to educational activities? Do you need a nanny only for taking care of the baby, or will her duties include the development of the baby: lessons by different techniques, some special games, exercises, massage, gymnastics? Will the nanny do household chores: cooking, cleaning, laundry?

Nanny for the child: what to look out for?

Now it’s important to understand what criteria you should focus on when choosing a nanny. Surely you want your nanny to be responsible, accurate, love children, and be kind and cordial. But these purely human qualities are difficult to predict in advance. Therefore, first of all, you should be guided by objective criteria. What are they?

Work experience

An important enough criterion. Just as mothers become more experienced and wiser with each successive child, nannies who have successfully babysat several children are more trustworthy. They are familiar with the peculiarities of children’s development, they know how to take care of babies, they know how to behave in unusual situations. But do not discount the fact that any good nanny once started doing their job for the first time. And sometimes the kindness and humanity of a first-time nanny can outweigh the lack of experience. Or maybe a first-time nanny is an experienced mother who has several children of her own, and she could well be trusted with her baby, too…


They are very desirable. It should not be a word of mouth recommendation, but from a good employment agency, previous employers, your friends and so on. Recommendations will at least partially secure your family from unscrupulous workers.   

However, in these uncertain times it makes sense to check even a paper reference. They might turn out to be fake. If you are generally happy with your au pair and are willing to employ her, get the phone number of her former employers. Do not hesitate to contact them and ask about the nanny. Usually, in such cases, people are sympathetic and willing to answer questions. In this way, you can confirm or deny the information provided by the nanny. Unfortunately, there are cases when nannies give the phone numbers of acquaintances who pretend to be their former employers. So how do you detect such a scam? Here is one way. Make up a story that your nanny is supposed to tell. For example, how one day the baby choked on a meal and started choking. And the nanny, using her knowledge and experience, gave the child competent help. Or let’s say that the nanny had the additional responsibility of walking the dog in the house. And how she handled it.  The real employer will deny this information. A fake employer will make it up as he goes along and give himself away. 


Of course, it would be nice if the nanny had a suitable education. We have no educational institutions that train nannies. But there are colleges and universities – pedagogical and medical. Teachers have knowledge of child psychology and child development methods and medical workers are familiar with pediatrics and can recognize the first signs of childhood illnesses and know how to behave in various emergencies. In addition, there are all kinds of nanny training courses nowadays. It would be nice if your candidate at least in general terms was familiar with the physiology of the infant and had minimal medical knowledge. But the lack of medical or pedagogical training is not a problem. What is more important is the general level of education. No matter how one looks at it, the lack of education often affects a person’s personality.  


Here everything will depend on personal preferences. Some like young, energetic, enthusiastic nannies, and easy to learn new things. Some will prefer an older, less energetic nanny, but one with more life experience. Just remember that caring for an infant will require a lot of effort from the nanny. Therefore, it is better still, that the nanny was not older than 50-55 years.  

First impression

This criterion is very subjective, of course. But, nevertheless, it often becomes decisive. A person who will spend a lot of time in your home, to care for the baby, to communicate with him must be sympathetic to you. Of course, the first impression of the person may be wrong, but in any case the person should be pleasant for you to talk to 

How do I look for a nanny for my baby?

When we have more or less decided what kind of nanny we want for our beloved baby, we start the search. The search can be done in different ways. Each has its pros and cons. 

Search by advertisement

Despite the large number of staffing agencies, this method is still very common. You can put ads for nannies in local newspapers, on the internet and even post them around your neighborhood. The latter will give you a chance to find a nanny who lives in your neighborhood. This is handy enough, as you can count on quick help if you need it. Specify the basic requirements for applicants in the ad to immediately filter out those who do not clearly fit these requirements. In parallel, you can look through offers from potential candidates in the same newspapers or on the Internet. As a result of such a search you have a chance to find a suitable nanny and for a reasonable price. But at the same time, the risk of running into an unscrupulous worker is also very high. In most ads you will be approached by nannies without references, you will have to communicate with a lot of people, answer a lot of calls and make a choice can be difficult. However, you should not discount this way of searching. 

Contacting an agency

One sensible method might be to contact a specialized recruitment agency. At the least you will save time and be more protected. But you have to realize that no agency, no references can guarantee 100% safety. And the many unhappy stories from TV shows and the Internet confirm this. Moreover, you will have to pay a lot of money for the agency’s services. Staffing firms, alas, are all different… So before you contact an agency, gather more information about it, search for reviews on the Internet. If you did decide to use the help of professionals, you’d better let them be really trustworthy…           

Search on the internet

Spend some time and scour the Internet for possible “blacklists” of employment agencies and specific nannies. Mothers who have suffered from unscrupulous helpers try to warn other parents and their babies by constantly adding compromised names to these lists. Talk to young mothers on the thematic forums. There you can get useful practical tips on finding a nanny, read the stories of such searches and, of course, ask the questions you are worried about and discuss all kinds of situations. In addition, mothers sometimes “pass on” their nannies to other kids on such forums. Kids have grown, the grandmother has retired, the family moves – and a great babysitter is no longer needed. And this could be a very good option for you!        

Relatives and acquaintances

Be sure to put the word out to relatives, friends and acquaintances that you’re looking for a nanny. Talk to your neighbors, mums at the playground. It is quite possible that some of them know a good nanny, who is now looking for work. Quite often we find the right people through people we know. If you are offered a nanny, find out how familiar the person recommending you is with the candidate. It is one thing if he knows her for a long time as a good, decent person. It is quite another if it is a “friend of some acquaintances. Here you have to trust, but verify. It happens that the services of a nanny are offered by a relative. Say, a third cousin or great aunt is now out of work and not against helping you with the baby for a fee. Such options are also worth considering, especially if you know the relative well and you have a good relationship. But, remember that it is not always easy to have a monetary relationship with distant and especially close relatives. It will not be easy for you to reprimand them, to point out possible lapses. Firing a relative is also much more difficult than firing an outsider. At some point, it can lead to misunderstandings, resentments, mutual complaints and even the termination of communication. Alas, such cases are not so rare…

Nanny for your baby: getting to know the applicants

There is, of course, a chance to find a nanny for your baby quickly. But, most likely, you will have to communicate with a large number of applicants. Develop a communication plan by making a list of questions to ask at the interview. This will make it easier for you not to lose sight of any important little things. 

Phone screening

There are some questions that can be answered over the phone. It’s a good idea to ask the potential au pair “screening” questions right away so you don’t waste too much time talking to her. Start with the most important criteria for you: age, education, location, residence, etc.  If everything fits, give her a salary. If she is satisfied with it, you can ask other questions and move on to a personal meeting.

Where do we meet?

Recruitment agencies often provide their offices for meetings with potential nannies. It is convenient enough. If you are looking for a nanny on your own, it is better not to invite her into your home the first time. Of course, it is not good to immediately suspect a person of something reprehensible, but you should not discount all kinds of scammers and home tipsters. It’s better to be overly vigilant than not vigilant enough… It’s wise to meet the sitter in a cafĂ© where you can have a quiet chat. Pay attention to whether the jobseeker is on time for the meeting. This indirectly indicates that she is punctual and collected. Meeting at the nanny’s home is also a good option. So you can immediately assess whether the potential client is neat, tidy and efficient.  

Don’t be shy when asking.

Talking to a nanny applicant, do not be shy to ask any questions you are interested in. It is quite normal. Ask about work experience, marital status, education, attitude to modern views on the care of babies.  Don’t forget to check the registration. If the applicant is a citizen of another country, she must have a valid registration. Otherwise, it is better to refuse such a nanny at once. If the nanny is experienced, find out why she left her previous job, ask for the phone number of former employers, and ask for information about families where the nanny has worked before. As a rule, a person who is honest with you and has nothing to hide will answer any questions calmly, easily, quickly, without a hitch. This is not a bad sign. 

To check whether the nanny is knowledgeable about caring for your baby, ask her what she will do in one case or another. For example, if the baby cries all the time, if he has a fever, if he chokes and so on. The more questions and answers you have, the more opportunities you have to figure out what kind of person is in front of you. 

An important point

You have the right to ask the nanny for health documents, because it is about the health of the child! It is highly advisable to have certificates from the dermatovenerologica, drug and neuropsychiatric dispensaries, but the results of tests for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B and C, a fluorography taken not more than a year ago are necessary.   For your own peace of mind, ask to have the tests done at a laboratory you trust. In this case, you can agree with the nanny that you will reimburse her expenses, but, for example, after the end of the probationary period. 

Pay attention to the nanny’s appearance: clothes, hair, nails, make-up, perfume. It should all be neat, tidy, not too flashy.    

Surely some of the applicants for the position of nanny will not like you immediately, someone will seem quite promising. If the first time you can not get it right, make a second appointment. You will have time to think things over, to remember the conversation, once again assess their feelings and impressions. Perhaps a second meeting will dispel doubts or, on the contrary, confirm fears. 

If you can’t decide between what you think are two good babysitting candidates, try taking each of them for a one-week trial period (be sure to negotiate payment for that period). By talking to the person a little more closely, observing how she handles her duties, you can make a choice in favor of the candidate who seems more professional and with whom you will generally find it easier to communicate.     

Job descriptions

So you’ve made your choice. You think you have found a nanny who meets your requirements. But before she starts her duties, you should clearly stipulate all the nuances of taking care of your baby, and voice all the important requirements for you. Babysitter should clearly understand what she needs to do, what you can not do under any circumstances, what issues are crucial for you. It would even be good to make something like a “job description”. This way it will be easier for the new person to orientate herself in her duties. Some parents even conclude a contract with their nanny that lists the rights and responsibilities of the parties. This document will help make your relationship more transparent. And in case of a “mismatch”, it will be much easier for you to voice your grievances.  

It’s necessary that the first few days of babysitting the baby under the supervision of his mother, grandmother or other close person. So, first, you’ll be able to get a general idea of her personality, to make sure she copes with his duties. And secondly, the babysitter can rely on your help and tips: how best to organize the day’s baby, where to keep the necessary baby items, utensils, food, what to feed the baby, which, if necessary, to give medications, etc. During this period, you can also solve all the issues relating to the convenience of the nanny: where she will leave personal items, change clothes, what to eat, where she can have a little rest when the baby sleeps, etc. 

 When the nanny is left alone with the baby, it is possible to judge how she is coping with her duties by circumstantial signs. When you return home, pay attention to various “little things”: what the baby is wearing, whether he is washed, happy and cheerful or, on the contrary, upset about something, how he behaves, how he meets his mother… Observe the nanny: what her mood is, whether you feel any signs of irritation.  Ask about how the day went, what the baby was doing, how he behaved, what he was playing at, what was new in his development, were there any unpleasant moments… Listen carefully to the story, listen to the words and intonations.

Security issues

A separate issue is security. If you decide from the very beginning to install video surveillance, you should honestly warn the babysitter about it right away. Perhaps you will only do surveillance for the first time, or periodically, to make sure the person you entrusted your baby to is decent. But even without a camera, there are ways to make sure the nanny is honest. For example, family members may come home unexpectedly at different times of the day, or someone close to them may come by periodically to “check on” the baby. If there is security in the entryway, ask the janitor to write down the times when the babysitter goes out for a walk and when she comes back, and find out if the babysitter goes out alone, leaving the child home without supervision. Talk to the grandmothers at the doorway – they see and know everything and will be able to share their impressions of your new helper. All of this, of course, is unpleasant, but necessary. Parents are quite understandable: they have no right to risk the health and safety of the baby…

Do not hesitate to make comments to the nanny if necessary. But they must be done correctly. There is nothing shameful or inconvenient about it. There is no need to remain silent, building up resentment. It is absolutely normal and understandable that a stranger, unfamiliar with your way of life, your character, preferences, etc. can do something in his own way, and not the way you want. And not out of spite, but just out of ignorance. It is impossible to foresee and discuss everything in advance. Therefore, in the process of work you will “get used to”, to solve arising issues and direct the nanny’s actions in the direction you want. May you and your baby be lucky to meet a good nanny.

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Author: Doris Cory

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