Skip to main content

What is a nanny? How to hire the right nanny for your needs

Looking to hire a nanny? Here's how

A nanny feeding toddlers in her care / Shutterstock

Finding the right childcare for your family is challenging whether you’re returning to work following a maternity leave or transitioning from being a stay-at-home mom back into the workforce. It’s never an easy decision to leave your kids during the day to go to work.

While some parents have family to rely on to watch the kiddos, many don’t. Their options boil down to daycare centers. Other parents opt to hire a nanny to care for the children during the workday to allow the kids to stay in the familiar environment of their own home. Nannies have been caring for children for ages, but exactly what is a nanny, and how do parents go about finding one?

Nanny and kids baking a cake
Evgeny Atamanenko / Shutterstock

What is a nanny?

At the mention of the word nanny, an image of Mary Poppins landing at the front door with her umbrella probably popped into your head. It’s not surprising since she’s one of the most famous fictional nannies. Simply put, a nanny is a professional caregiver whose primary responsibility is the care of children in a private home. Unlike a babysitter, a nanny is employed on a full or part-time basis and is paid a salary or an hourly wage.

Nannies also come with a resume of experience and perform a range of duties revolving around the care and well-being of the children in the household. Since a big part of a nanny’s job is keeping children safe, a nanny should be CPR trained and have basic first-aid knowledge. Some nannies can often assist new parents in baby-proofing the home, too. Many nannies have a background in early childhood education as well.

Duties of a nanny

First and foremost, a nanny is hired to look after the children. A nanny’s duties include providing a daily, structured routine for kids that often incorporates getting kids ready for school, making and prepping meals, managing naps, and engaging the kids in age-appropriate activities. Depending on your family’s needs, a nanny can take kids back and forth to school as well as extracurricular activities, play dates, and appointments. Many nannies also do light household chores pertaining to the kids, such as laundry and cleaning up following meals and playtime. The exact duties of your nanny will depend on the kind of nanny you want to hire.

Types of nannies

As professional caregivers, there are different kinds of nannies. The type you select depends on the kind of care you are looking to receive for your children. These are the most common types of nannies.

  • Part-time nanny – A part-time nanny works a specific number of hours a week on a regular schedule. Many part-time nannies are employed for families with younger school-aged children. A part-time nanny is ideal for a family that doesn’t need a caregiver for the majority of the day.
  • Live-in nanny – Live-in nannies are employed on a full-time basis, providing all-day care for the children. As the name implies, a full-time nanny lives in your home and often carries additional housekeeping and cooking duties. Employing a full-time nanny is typically a long-term commitment between the nanny and the family.
  • Nanny share – A nanny share works between two or more families who don’t need a full-time caregiver. The families usually live in close proximity where the schedules can be worked out for the nanny to provide childcare duties for all the families at different times. The perk of this option is that the nanny’s salary is shared among the employing families.

There are also more specialized nannies, such as newborn, special needs, tutor, travel, and weekend nannies.

Nanny expectations

Since a nanny’s duties vary with the type of nanny you’re hiring, it’s important to have clear expectations out of what you require from your nanny. For example, if you need a nanny to take your kids to their sports activities or other after-school activities, a driver’s license and transportation are must-haves.

Always spell out exactly what duties and responsibilities you expect your nanny to have so there aren’t any gray areas. Creating a nanny contract is prudent for both you and your nanny. In the contract, you should hammer out the details about working hours, personal days, sick days, duties, live-in arrangements if that applies, time off, and expenses. Some families may also want a confidentiality agreement, which should also be addressed in the contract.


There are a lot of factors that go into determining a nanny’s salary, including the cost of living and the availability of childcare in the area. A nanny’s salary depends on the number of children under their care as well.

A baby smiling while sitting up.
Pranav Kumar Jain / Unsplash

How to hire a nanny

Since Mary Poppins isn’t going to fly down to your doorstep with a spoonful of sugar, how do parents go about hiring a nanny? You can find some nannies by word of mouth. Since the demand for nannies decreases as kids reach the tween and teen years, you might be able to find out about the availability of a nanny from other parents in your neighborhood or social circle.

Websites like, Nanny Lane, and Sitter City can help connect you with nannies in your area. Nanny Lane does require a plus membership to get access to background checks and other services like hiring assistance and payroll. Social media is another way to locate available nannies. Facebook groups like Nanny Careers USA are a way to link families with a possible nanny.

For families looking for childcare, a nanny can be an ideal choice. Unlike daycare, hiring a nanny keeps your children in their own home environment with a schedule tailor-made for them. Depending on your family’s needs, a nanny can be full or part-time. There are other specialized nanny options, too. Since a nanny provides professional childcare, many come with years of experience and comprehensive resumes. Remember to vet any potential nannies carefully and have a detailed contract in place upon hiring that spells out all pertinent responsibilities and employment arrangements.

Editors' Recommendations

Dawn Miller
Dawn Miller began her professional life as an elementary school teacher before returning to her first love, writing. In…
What is 4-month sleep regression (and how to keep it from ruining your life)
Here's what you need to know if you're dealing with 4-month sleep regression
A mother watching her baby sleep in their crib.

A good night's sleep is hard to get when you have a baby. So, when your little one starts sleeping for longer stretches, and dare we say through the night, it is a cause for concern. Not many parents may have heard of 4-month sleep regression, even though they may be experiencing it. Four-month sleep regression is perfectly normal and happens to some little ones around the 3- to 4-month mark. Of course, when baby isn't sleeping, neither is anyone else in the house. Here's everything you need to know about 4-month sleep regression, including when your baby will start going down for the night once again.

A guide to 4-month sleep regression
By the time babies are 2 to 3 months old, they typically sleep for 5 or 6 hours stretches. By 4 months, babies can sleep through the night without being fed. Whether a baby does depends on the child. Most babies will sleep for that heavenly stretch of 7 to 8 hours by the 4-month mark. If your kiddo has been snoozing for a solid 8 hours at night and has suddenly stopped, you could be dealing with 4-month sleep regression.
What is 4-month sleep regression?
When babies around the age of 3 to 4 months start having trouble sleeping through the night again, it could be a sleep regression period. Regression means to revert or go back to a previous pattern. This is what happens with sleep regression. Babies begin to have trouble falling or staying asleep at night and during their usual naptimes, regressing to those short intervals of slumber you thought had gone by the wayside.
When can 4-month sleep regression occur?
Despite the name, 4-month sleep regression can happen at any time. This change in sleep pattern typically happens to babies at around the 3- to 4-month mark.
How long does 4-month sleep regression last?
It may seem like ages, but 4-month sleep regression doesn't usually hang around for long. Provided parents make an effort to keep baby's sleep routine consistent, 4-month sleep regression lingers for around two weeks.
What causes 4-month sleep regression?
Since most parents want to avoid any interruption in the much-needed good night's sleep in the household, it's important to understand why this sleep regression happens in the first place to babies happily sleeping through the night. As infants, babies don't have a sleep and a wake cycle. They pretty much sleep when they want and wake when they're hungry or need a diaper change. When babies reach the 4-month mark, they begin to understand the sleep/wake cycle. They snooze longer at night and take fewer naps during the daytime. It's this important developmental adjustment that can actually interrupt their newfound sleep pattern.

Read more
7 avocado-based baby food combinations your baby will love
Mix up these avocado baby foods for your kiddos
Baby in highchair eating avocado puree.

It's so exciting when your little one is ready to start eating solid foods. If you're searching for what solids to try, think avocados. Avocados aren't just a superfood for adults. They're excellent for babies and toddlers too since they are infused with healthy fats. Avocado baby food offers a nutritious first step in introducing solid foods to babies.

Avocados earned that superfood tag because they contain 20 vitamins and minerals, including folate, potassium, iron, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, and K, plus several variants of vitamin B. They're also packed with protein and fiber and don't contain cholesterol or sodium. Avocados are very low in saturated fat, too. Babies need omega-3 fatty acids to promote brain and eye development. Avocados are one of the fattiest plant foods and are a great source of oleic acid. Oleic acid is an important omega-3 that's also found in olive oil.

Read more
Baby play mat ins and outs: What age you should get one and the benefits for baby’s development
Play mats are fun for babies of all ages
Smiling baby on colorful play mat

There seems to be an endless array of baby gear available for little ones as they grow and develop, and it can be hard to determine which products are worth the investment. Play mats are a must-have item for many babies because they can provide endless fun and stimulation for your little one, not to mention allowing them to play on their own.

A play mat gives your child a comfortable spot where they can play on their back or their tummy and practice rolling over while also giving parents a nice break from holding or entertaining their baby. It's also a nice place where baby's classic toys are within easy reach for your mini human. 

Read more