Things to Look For in a Nanny

  Photo by  Alex Harvey  on  Unsplash
Photo by Alex Harvey  on Unsplash

As a woman who has previously nannied for several families, I can express firsthand how important it is for parents not to hire a weirdo. Parents, you love your kids, you want them to be looked after by a functioning adult with two eyes glued to your child, not to their iPhone.

Finding decent childcare is stressful, but for a lot of modern families, a necessity. Not every family can afford a stay-home-mom and not every family can afford full-time daycare. Hiring a nanny is a great option those families struggling to work and provide their children educational and nurturing environments. But finding the perfect fit can be a struggle. Here are ten things to look for in your future nanny.

Sense of Humor

You want to hire someone who not only helps your family, they are a part of it. Establishing a level of friendship with your nanny will help when your child inevitably does something annoying, naughty, or strenuous. Having a nanny with a sense of humor can help cut the tension and keep things light. Not to mention, a good joke can help establish a relationship between nannies and the older children they take care of.

Love of Outdoors

This is a big one. You want a nanny who is going to take your child out of the house. It’s easy to sequester a child inside all day and plop them in front of Elmo and his muppet friends. Kids like that stuff. Parents don’t. As a parent you want  your child to have the ability to go out in the world, play at parks, go on hikes, and make friends. Parks are great places for children to meet kids their own age and learn skills like sharing, not punching other humans in the face, and how to avoid being a major asshole other kids want to throw sticks at.

Besides the social aspect of being outside, there are educational purposes. I take my two year old outside or out of the house everyday and we talk about nature. We pick up rocks, look under them, play with chalk, talk about sharing, and play games with the toys we take with us. My kiddo’s vocabulary has grown exponentially since our outings together. Today he held up a shape, said very seriously, “This is a circle like the sun!” And I was thrilled he found the missing piece to the shapes puzzle.

Owns A Car

Another biggie. A nanny who owns a vehicle or has constant access to a car is one of the most important qualifications of childcare. Owning a vehicle ensures that families with school-age children have rides to and from school. It is also important if, as you read above, you desire your children to spend time outside or on educational and fun trips to the zoo or science center. I pick up my six year old every day from school and on her days off, take her on fun adventures.

Having my own means of transportation is a major factor in positive attitudes and no one strangling each other with their blankies. Transportation is also key in emergency situations. Accidents happen, and if your child needs to get to the hospital, a car is crucial. Keep in mind you may need to reimburse your nanny for a percentage of the gas they use, but in the long run, you’re still saving some money.

This then leads me to,

Clean Driving Record, Background Check, and References

Hire a nanny who has the trifecta. You want someone experienced taking care of your children. You want a kind nanny who drives safely down the interstate, has had no, or minimal, amount of traffic violations, and who also hasn’t murdered anyone. Literally, the easiest and most duh part of hiring a nanny, is making sure they are safe and good humans who don’t secretly strangle cats.

When I was hired for my latest family, I provided them with not only an extensive resume listing my many accolades in childcare, but I also paid to have both my personal and driving backgrounds checked. I didn’t want my family to worry about me. And my willingness to provide them with a holy trinity of my qualifications and backgrounds went a long way during my hiring process. It may also be couth to stalk their social media. Nannying may be the only job where your religious and political affiliations matter. Don’t hire someone to help raise your children that you have huge differences of opinion with. It will only cause problems and make everyone uncomfortable.

Experience/Degree in Education

One of the many reasons I was hired, was my degree in Education with a focus in English studies. My family had, at the time of my hire, an almost two year old with a love of letters. He could recite every letter in the alphabet as well as their respective sounds. It was important the person my bosses hired was able to nurture their son’s love of words and letters. I, having also studied Writing and Communications, was more than qualified to help accomplish that goal.

Having an actual degree in education isn’t a necessity, but a love of learning or reading is huge when you’re looking at hiring a nanny during your child’s most formative years.


No, not like a fox. Crafty like the ability to turn a shoebox into a leprechaun trap, as I did yesterday. Hire a nanny who loves to paint, isn’t afraid to get glitter on their sweater, and who is down with getting real creative when the six year old breaks her right hand and can only do left-handed activities for a month.


Life is messy, so being a nanny sometimes requires extra flexible schedules and some sensitivity to the needs of the family. You want a nanny who you can trust to put your kids to bed if your car breaks down and your husband is stuck in a late afternoon meeting. Your nanny should be comfortable enough at your house to feel like staying a couple extra minutes or hours isn’t a total bummer.

Don’t take advantage of that bendiness though, remember your nanny will have a personal life too. So while you should be able to rely on your nanny for last minute schedule changes, don’t just assume they’re willing to spend every Saturday putting the kids to sleep while you and the hubby are grabbing some dinner and drinks.

Culinary Skills

Confession. When I was first hired by my family, I had no idea how to bake a sweet potato. None. They are the two year old’s favorite meal and after three weeks of successfully avoiding baking that damn potato, I was finally left a note gently urging me to make one for lunch. So I did what any twenty-three year old potato virgin would do, I called my dad. Your future nanny by no means needs to be a Gordon Ramsey-approved five star chef, but they should know how to make several kid-friendly meals. Peanut butter sandwiches are yummy, but they’ll get old quickly.

First Aid and CPR Certifications

These two certifications are paramount. Children stick weird things in their mouth all the time and you want childcare who will know what to do in case of an emergency. I’ve never had a child choke, but I have had a child fall on their head out of their highchair. Without First Aid training, I would not have been as calm in attempting to soothe and administer care. These two forms of training can save a child’s life, so it’s an obvious plus if your nanny possesses those skills.

Disciplinary Plan

Talk to your nanny interviewees about disciplinary plans. Ask first how they would handle a situation, and if their answer is military-style shrieking in cadence, maybe don’t hire them. Clearly communicate how you prefer your children be disciplined and make sure your nanny can adhere to your preferences. Not all disciplinary types are the same and it’s important to be on the same page, especially when it comes to child-rearing.

Hiring help doesn’t have to be super stressful, it can be exciting! After all, you’re enlisting the help of another adult to assist you in nurturing your child. And face it, it’ll be great not to go crazy alone.

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