How to choose a nanny

Marva Soogrim is the nanny of choice for many celebrity A-listers including Julia Roberts, Courteney Cox, Sheryl Crow and Chris O’Donnell. Here she offers her expert tips on how to choose the best nanny for your family.

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As a nanny for more than two decades, I have been hired and I have helped my clients find another nanny when it was time for me to move on. Celebrity or not, finding the right nanny is a challenge for everyone. Many parents don’t know where to begin the search for nanny services, especially first-time parents.

Below are my tips to help you find the very best nanny for your child and family.

Reach out: Ask friends and family if they can recommend a nanny in your area. If they don’t know anyone off-hand, maybe they can put the word out to some of their close friends. Personal recommendations are often the most reliable.

Agency option: If you don’t get any recommendations, then look into the most reputable nanny agencies in your vicinity. Again, recommendations are helpful and important when looking for an agency. Even if you don’t live in a major city, but you’re close to one, look for agencies there too. They may have a bigger selection, and the potential employee might be willing to relocate.

Special needs: If your child has special needs, make sure you find a nanny who has experience in those areas.

Pre-interview: If you can, choose as many as eight potential nannies from your contacts. Before you see them in person, speak with each of them on the phone. This way you’ll get a better sense of what they’re about and what they can bring to the job.

The final four: Choose the best four candidates by the positive responses you receive on the phone. Then, set up appointments to meet in person (not at your home) at a local coffee shop or diner. Ask them to bring three references whom you can contact. Decide on the best two candidates by the end of the interviews.

Ask the unexpected: When you meet in person, ask some questions during the interview that they might not be anticipating. For example, I like to ask nannies what their favourite children’s books are. If they don’t offer any answers right away, then I know they don’t read to children and that’s something I find very important.  

Background check: It’s important to have a background check done on the nanny you’re looking to hire. If the check costs money, it will be money well spent. You should also do some research on your own. Try a Google search using his or her name and see what comes up.

Trial run: I suggest doing a trial run with the two nannies whom you think would be a good fit for your family. If you have other children who are older than the baby, it’s important to see how they all get along.

Check references: I recommend calling the references instead of sending them an email. Reading an email never takes the place of the enthusiasm or lack thereof in someone’s voice. Have a list of questions written out beforehand to ask the former employers. Why is she not working with you now? How did she handle chaotic days when the kids were sick? Did she mind working overtime without notice? What are the great attributes she brought to your family and household? Is she reliable, flexible, trustworthy and punctual?
 
Follow Marva Soogrim on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MarvaSoogrim

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