When hiring a potential nanny, daycare, babysitter
or caretakers for your precious children, please keep the following
You should have
definite & clear expectations of your child's new caretaker.
Will they be both a caretaker and housekeeper? What will the hours be?
many days of the week? Vacation time? Pay?
Request the following
identification from an applicant:
and confirm all contact information and references.
- Birth certificate
- Social Security card
- Valid driver's license
- Home phone and address
- Proof of physical exam from the last two years
- Work references and phone numbers for the past
- Character references with addresses and phone
- CPR certificate
criminal background check.
- Confirm name and birth certificate or passport
- Make copies of I.D.
- Confirm home address (go there or ask for
utility bill as proof of residence)
- Confirm home number and/or cell phone number
- Call all references
- Visit home of references (to see if they really
- Contact number for next of kin
- Check for aliases
- Check for numerous addresses over short period
- Check for past complaints and follow up on them
asking a question of your new caretaker or nanny for your child or
children, it would be very helpful to ask for specific examples:
- Ask what makes her frustrated and how she
- Ask about her childhood
- Ask about her child rearing philosophy
- Question all gaps in her work history
- Ask about her experiences with their previous
families: What worked? What would she have changed?
- Ask empathy-related questions: Why does she like
working with children? Why does she choose to be a nanny? Why does she
want to work with your family?
- Ask about her experience in emergency situations
and find out how she would respond in certain situations (like: "What
if Billy fell and his arm appears to be broken?" "What if Mary
cuts herself and it's bleeding a lot?" "What will you do if my
child begins to vomit or has diarrhea or a fever?")
'red flags' during an interview that may indicate problems.
- Applicant refuses to give you her/his home phone
number and doesn't have numbers for work references
- Too many unexplainable gaps in work history
- Applicant refuses to give a valid license or
social security number
- Applicant refuses to sign a release for a
criminal background check
- Applicant has a lot of short-term jobs
- Applicant doesn't interact very well with your
child or shows little interest in the child
- Applicant has moved around far too often
- Applicant requests a very low pay and/or is
willing to take a lot less pay than her previous position
- Applicant has a number of traffic tickets and
will need to drive for you
- Applicant seems to be overqualified* for the position
*Why you should be
wary of over-qualified applicants.
- They will say what you want to hear in interviews
- They have excellent résumés that give the
parents a false sense of experience
- These applicants know how to manipulate
personalities and skills tests
- Their references are often friends, not previous
- Keep in mind: "a stranger with a résumé is still
additional tips for the interview process:
- The applicant should interact well with your
child and show an interest in him/her
- The hours, days, and job description must fit
what the applicant is looking for
- The applicant must have reliable transportation
to your home
- The applicant must have reliable coverage for
her own children if she has any
- If you are a stay-at-home mom, make sure the
person you are hiring feels comfortable with that set-up. Or, if you are
able to take breaks from work, let her know that you'll be dropping in
periodically and that she's equally comfortable with that kind of
- You should really feel good about the reasons
the applicant wants to take care of children and specifically your
- The applicant should be looking for a long-term
- You should interview all applicants at least
twice with the second interview taking place around 5 or 6 p.m, which
is the dinner, bath and all around cranky time for many babies
- If possible, visit the applicant in her home
nanny should expect:
- Two days off each week, unless otherwise
discussed and agreed to
- On-time pay and overtime
- Holiday and vacation pay (two weeks per year)
- Respect from children and you
- Clear communication from you
- Support and understanding from you
- Raises in pay and a stated timetable for them
- Appreciation and bonuses when necessary
- Food for her meals
- The attitude that you are a team and in it
together for the healthy development of your children
There is a way to
monitor your caretaker without installing nanny cams. Consider these
tips to find out whether your child is protected or neglected:
Count how many diapers there are and how many bottles of formula there
are before you leave and then again when you return home.
Newborns should be changed every four to six hours depending on how
much they eat
Infants can go through about 12 diapers a day
Check the baby naked.
Parents often arrive home to find their kids already in pajamas. Then
they leave in the morning and let the nanny put the kids in daytime
clothing. So they never see their child undressed. Examine their bodies
for bruises, scratches, bites or other injuries. You can do this
unobtrusively during bath time, you certainly don't want to scare your
Be aware if you
child is unusually clingy or has fear of caretakers.
Separation anxiety occurs between 6 to 8 months of age and may last
until 2 to 3 years of age. Signs of separation anxiety before 6 months
may suggest a problem. If it goes too far and goes too long and it's
just not within their range of personality, that is a red flag.
Trust your instincts.
A "mother's instinct" is even better than a camera. Keep in mind, it
may always be hard to turn your children over to someone, but you
should trust your instincts if you have suspicions.
Allow a trial period
where one parent is there with the nanny.
People will take a car for a test drive before they buy it, but they
don't always think to take a potential nanny for a test drive.
warning signs that
your nanny may be mistreating or neglecting your
- Explanations of injuries are inconsistent with
the baby's age and
- For example, if your baby is not a crawler, he
shouldn't be bumping
into things. Ask yourself, "Could my baby possibly be doing this?"
Listen carefully for the explanation that is given.
- Your child is more clingy than normal and shows
prolonged fear of
- Again, there can be separation anxiety. But when
if it goes too far and
goes too long and it's just not within their range of personality, that
is a red flag.
- Nanny over-exaggerates the extent of their daily
- Does every day sound like an exciting field
trip? Sure, some days may
include a trip to the park, going for walks, watching developmental
videos, etc., but question whether it realistically occurs every day.
- Nanny avoids eye contact and answers questions
that are not asked. You
really have to see if they're talking too much, if they're telling you
things that you don't need to know.
- Nanny leaves as soon as you arrive home. The
nanny should want to tell
you about things your child did that day.
Is the nanny late a
Being late doesn't necessarily mean she's neglecting your child, but a
nonchalant attitude about when she arrives could carry over into the
way she treats your child.
When your child is sick on weekends, does the nanny call to see how
your child is doing? She should care about your child whether
she's working or not. Does the
nanny feel like part of the family?
unexplained behavioral changes in your child.
Insufficient amount of diapers or formula being used. You may come home
to a child who's dry, but has your child been changed
as many times as needed throughout the day?
I sincerely hope
these tips have helped you be better prepared when choosing someone to
be in your home, caring for your child/children.
Lori Berke is the
co-author of Making Childcare Choices: "How to Find, Hire and Keep the
Best Childcare for Your Kids" and co-founder of Care Check, Inc., a
company that provides video surveillance equipment and answers the
needs of parents who hire in-home help. Dr. Phil and Lori Berke offer
advice for hiring a nanny and monitoring his/her relationship with your
My thanks to Lori and to Dr. Phil for providing this very helpful and
informative checklist. I watched this particular "nannies from hell" show on Dr.
Phil... and I was horrified what the NannyCam caught the nanny doing to
the infant child while in her care while the parents were at work.
My heart just sank at the thought that hired caretakers who'd been
investigated and observed and passed the tests could still treat a tiny
baby in such a vicious, uncaring manner. My own 'grandmother
heart' was torn up watching this program and I wanted to get the word
out ever wider than simply Dr. Phil's show, in case someone missed
it. This information could save
your child's life!
I would also recommend that you do look into the possibility of
installing some kind of surveillance cameras in your home if you do
have a nanny or live-in caretaker, because as it was proven on Dr.
Phils show... you simply never know.
Whatever you choose to do, please be sure you use the advice and the
checklist above to investigate the daycare where your children might
go, the nanny you might hire or any caregiver you might entrust your
children's care to - it's vitally important for your children's safety
Thanks for reading & I wish you the very best in your & your
Donna Maher RN
& Consumer Advocate
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