Hire a Nanny Before You Have the Baby

Q: My baby is due in two months and since I am returning to work three months after the birth, my husband and I have decided to hire a nanny. What should we be looking for?

A: You are very wise to be thinking about your criteria now, before your baby is born. You should have your plan of action for hiring a nanny before you go into the hospital to have your baby.

I’m sure you’ve heard about women who’ve had to put their children on waiting lists to get into a good childcare center. Well, the same situation can exist with a nanny. When you really need one, you don’t want to have to settle for someone so-so just because you have to go to work. So, I encourage you that while you are hugely pregnant, get out and go to places where children congregate. If you live in an area where a lot of people have one-on-one in-home childcare, you’ll be sure to find plenty of nannies in those places. Spend some time observing how they interact with their charges. I guarantee you that these people will want to strike up a conversation with you, if for no other reason than to ask how you are feeling, or when you are due. This will give you an opportunity to ask them about their work, what they do, why they became a nanny, etc. Then tell them that you are looking for a nanny and ask them what they would look for if they were you. Start building your "nanny network" early, that way when you have your baby, you can immediately let these women know when you would be looking for someone to take care of your baby in your home.

Here are my other tips, based on personal experience:

  • Don’t be afraid to hire someone from a newspaper ad. This is how we got our nanny, and we’ve had her for more than a year now. This method requires vigilant screening. I set up a voicemail box complete with a message outlining several questions I wanted answered before I would even call an applicant back. Then I really listened. Anyone whose accent I couldn’t understand was out. Anyone who had a friend or husband call "representing" them was out. And, anyone who stated salary or benefit demands upfront, was also out.
  • Go with your gut. If you don’t like something – anything – about the sitter, don’t hire her. Period. Don’t even ask yourself another question about it.

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