A nanny is a professional carer who looks after children in the children's own home.
Some parents find that a nanny is a more flexible arrangement than formal child care. They also like the idea of children being cared for in their own homes. And it might save money if families have more than one child.
The right nanny for your family will:
- be available when you need care
- have child care experience, qualifications and references
- get along well with your children.
Our article on employing a nanny covers the practical side of nannies as child care - writing a job description, drawing up an employment contract, working out pay, insurance, superannuation and so on.
How to find a nanny
You could start by asking other parents or your friends if they know someone suitable.
Nannies often advertise on noticeboards at child care centres, local schools, community centres, universities, libraries or local shops. You could also try looking in your local newspaper or online.
You can also use a formal employment agency to find a nanny. Agencies conduct police checks and make sure the people on their books are of good character via reference checks.
The nanny's availability and other practical issues
When you're looking for a nanny, it's important to be clear about what you need and want from a nanny.
You might want to consider things like:
- whether you need a nanny during the working week, on weekends or in the evenings
- what the nanny's duties will be - for example, whether you expect the nanny to drive your children around, or cook and clean for your family
- where the nanny will live - for example, whether the nanny lives in your house.
The nanny's experience
To find a nanny who's the right fit for your family, you could ask about experience. For example:
- How long has the nanny worked in child care as a carer?
- What kinds of situations has the nanny worked in?
- Has the nanny worked with other children the same age as yours?
- How many children has the nanny worked with at the one time?
The nanny's qualifications and references
All nannies should have a current first aid certificate. You might also want a nanny to have qualifications in early childhood.
You need to be able to trust your nanny. Ensure that your nanny supplies references from previous employers. Make sure you check them thoroughly.
The nanny's rapport with your children
The right nanny for your family will be someone who gets along well with your children. You might like to ask the nanny about building positive relationships with children and about how the nanny encourages learning and development through play and other activities.
Many agencies provide a nanny on a trial basis first. This allows you to see how the nanny gets on with your children before you make long-term employment arrangements.
If you're employing a nanny privately, you could also set up a couple of trial sessions before finalising the arrangement.
Nanny sharing is when two families with similar needs share the one nanny.
You might already know a family interested in sharing with you. Otherwise, some agencies will help families connect. You could also search for nanny-sharing organisations online.
If you're thinking about nanny sharing, you might want to consider:
- how many children in total you want a nanny to care for
- the number of children one nanny can take in a car - if you want the nanny to drive the children places
- whether you prefer the other children to be around the same age as your children
- where the care would take place - at your house, the other family's house or a combination of the two
- how far you're willing to travel if some, or all, of the care will be at the other family's house.
You might be able to access the Australian Government's In Home Care program to assist with the cost of child care provided in the family home by an educator who meets minimum qualification requirements. You have to be working non-standard or variable hours, be geographically isolated or have complexities or challenges within your family.