Nanny Share - Age Ranges

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • Best age for nanny shares?

    (6 replies)

    I'm seeking advice about nanny shares for infants. I'm a first time single mother and my son is 4 months old. I am thinking about going from my nanny to a nanny share when he turns six months old. However, I believe in contact napping so I don't know if this would work with another baby his age. Infants also have higher needs, being less independent than toddlers. I also don't know if it's over stimulating for him to be out and about (zoo, parks, museums, etc.) so much like a toddler needs. What do you all suggest in terms of the ideal age for the other baby in my situation? 

    I think if you feel strongly your baby should contact nap, a nanny share isn’t a good situation. It’s not really fair to the other kid to have the nanny much less available while your baby is napping, unless it’s a crib-napping baby whose nap times and lengths align. 

    Nannyshares are typically set up with children of similar ages to be on the same nap schedule and work on similar developmental milestones and interests. It's tough for a nanny to juggle different nap schedules and never get a break during the day, but some don't mind. It can also be tough on the kids not to have a predictable routine (especially once they are older and develop more set schedules).

    A successful infant share for you could look like a few things: maybe the other baby is already a reasonably independent sleeper and can be put down easily, or the other baby will fall asleep in the stroller while your LO contact naps in a carrier. You also have to consider that your baby (or the nannyshare baby)'s needs will shift over time, and be willing to trial/error different things as they grow (for example, my LO was a happy contact napper in the carrier up until about a year old, and then would no longer nap in the carrier because it was too distracting). Every baby is different - I think it'll depend more on their personality and temperament than their age (which is also a moving target!).

    It depends on what you/your nanny is willing to do/try, and what the parents want for their kids. With a nannyshare, there are many more factors and some amount of chaos to accept since you have to accommodate another child/family's needs in the relationship no matter how old they are. Hope this offers some helpful insight, and good luck!

    Hiya, I am in the same situation and we are looking at a nanny share with a 9mo old for our 4mo and that age difference seems more aligned to me. I hear you about different needs at different ages, though when your babe is 1 or so they'd be able to do more out and about. I know you will find what is right for your comfort level and what is best for you babe. And if contact naps are important to you, I bet you can find a nanny who can offer that for part or all of the naps you want for them. Good luck! 

    Depending on the nanny you find for the share, they may prefer similarly aged children. Our son started a nanny share at 6 months with another 6-month-old and it was perfect. The nanny took them out for neighborhood walks and to the park, and the occasional story time at the local library. Our son was more physically developed (sitting up, rolling over, and crawling), the other more vocally developed (verbalizing beyond coos), and we feel they pushed each other in their mutual development. At about 15 months we had to find a new nanny share (the other family moved abroad the nanny wanted to start with a new set of younger children/babies) and this time it was with a child 6-months younger, and despite the age difference, our son and the other child get along very well and the nanny takes them around to all the local parks, community centers, and libraries. 

    I hope this helps.

    I am not familiar with contact napping so can’t speak to that but I assume, from the sounds of it, that it would be very challenging for a nanny to continue with that is she is responsible for caring for two babies. In general, I think both parents and nannies find it advantageous to have the two children around the same age - born within 3-4 months of each other. As your child transitions from three naps to two, and two naps to one, it is really helpful if the other child is on a similar schedule. But in your case, you may want to find a nanny first to make sure they can meet your needs with regard to contact napping, and then speak with them about the ideal age gap from their point of view. If your existing nanny is open to a nanny share, that might be a good place to start.

    Hi there! My baby was a contact napper as well. I loved it (mostly!) but when we experimented with a nanny share for a semester it was definitely too much to ask. The nanny was able to put her to sleep in a carrier and then lay her down fairly easily after about 10-15minutes which was a workable compromise you may want to consider. 

    Normally nanny shares include similar aged babies at similar milestones and schedules. 
    Good luck!

  • We’re hoping to join a nanny share in the next few months when we’re both working full time. One thing I was wondering is what age gap between 2 babies sharing 1 nanny is ideal. Our child will be 5.5 months old when we start. Any insights would be helpful!

    I don't know that it was ideal or not, but our son was with a four-year-old boy when he was about four months old. The 4 y/o ended up being a great helper with our son and they developed a very sweet relationship. The share ended when COVID hit and our son was almost 10 months by then. I think it was probably helpful for the nanny that one child was older, but honestly our nanny was so awesome she probably could have done any combination. She had twins herself plus another child in addition to lots of experience, so she was very prepared. She took the kids to the park every time they were together so the older boy saw the same kids closer to his age too and got that socialization as well.

    Now that my son is 20 months, I would probably want him to be in a share with kids closer to his age, if we were to do it again. We opted to start him in daycare last week as he is very social (among other reasons for going with daycare at this point). As a baby, I don't think the age mattered quite as much to him or us as just being around other children.

    If you plan on the nanny taking the babies to the park or other activities, it's useful if both babies take the same number of naps. A one-nap baby is sleeping during the two-nap baby's awake time (usually), which makes going out harder. We dealt with this by having my baby's one nap in the morning, but this made for a month or so of rough evenings before the nanny got them both to one nap at the same time. 

    Hi Jessylin:

    We had our son in a nanny share with a kid who was very close in age (birthdays within a month) and were glad they were. Kids develop at different rates of course, but what felt really important to us was having napping patterns line up. For a 5.5 month old, it probably makes sense to be within a few months at most of one another, so they can move together from three to two to one nap. It was also nice to have mobility and speaking be somewhat aligned. In our case, the other child walked and talked several months before ours, but then it was nice for them to be able to run around together. Another thing to consider if your nanny takes the kids out for outings is that it's easier to keep track of two kids that are at roughly the same stage of mobility. Hope that's helpful.

    I would ask your nanny what they're comfortable with. From my perspective, you don't want more than a few months between them so they go through the transitions pretty close together. In our current nanny share, our son is 3.5 months older than the girl we share with and it seems to work well. Each time he transitions to a new nap schedule or learns a new skill, she's not far behind so it's not too much of a burden on our nanny. When we were first looking into shares, we asked her what worked for her and she said she would prefer them be close in age so that she didn't have one napping 3x a day and one napping 1x a day and having to occupy the non-napping baby somehow in the house or have the napping baby sleeping in the stroller all the time. Once they're older, I think the age gap can be bigger, but when they're young, it's just easier to have them going through the same things at the same times.

    In general, I don't think it matters much, though of course the nanny may have a preference for closer vs further away in age.  Our first child shared a nanny with another baby the same age (starting around age 1).  When our first child was 3, we sent him to preschool and replaced him in the share with his younger brother, who was 5 months old.  The other family originally expressed a preference to share with a child closer to their child's age, but finding none and probably because they were comfortable with us anyway, they accepted the swap.  The 2.5 year age difference ended up being beneficial for their child, who was an only, as it gave her an experience of being an older sibling - sharing, being patient, etc.

    My daughter was 5 months when we started our share. She’s now 8 months. One kid is a few months older and the two others are around 3 (3 of us in the share and the nanny has a child). My kid seems to hang out with the 3 year old the most. The 3 year old (also a girl) likes taking care of my daughter, like a baby doll. It’s really cute. My kid doesn’t really seem to pay much attention to the other kids and vice versa. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Should the other child be younger, older, or similar age?

Feb 2003

I am going back to work and we are considering a nanny share for our 6 month old son. We were wondering what age range we should look for in terms of the other child. Should we look for a share with someone who is younger, similar age, or older? Any advice would be appreciated. A new mom

I would say the closer in age the better, especially when under a year old. The milestones are so dramatic (learning to move, eat, walk, etc) that's is so much easier when the children are in sync. Older children demand more attention, have the capacity to do more damage to themselves and babies, and have completely different needs. A younger child - even by a few months - has different needs and capabilities as well, and can make a big difference to the nanny. Ellen

There are several things to consider when answering this question. First, what is best for your child? My son was in a nanny-share with two little girls, both a month older than he, and he really had a great time and became very attached to them (they are now in a family day-care together, and doing very well). So I think from your child's point of view, similar age, perhaps slightly older, is best. However, I learned that it can be very difficult to get a nanny-share set up the way you want it (the right nanny, the right kids, the right days and times...), and so one needs to be pretty flexible. When the two little girls I mentioned left the nanny share to go to the family day-care, I originally tried to set up another nanny share. When I specified a 6-month age range around my son's age (12-18 months; he was 15 months old) I was told that, if I wanted to have a reasonable chance of success, I needed to accept a wider age range of child (e.g. 9-24 months). So you might need to be willing to accept several months younger, or several months older, than your child. Karen

We have been in a nanny-share since I have gone back to work FT twice now-- my oldest is a 2 1/2 yo girl and youngest is 9 mo boy. I went back to work the first time when my daughter was 9 mos old and she joined a share with two other 2-yr olds. The other 2 yr olds were very nurturing with my daughter so the age spread did not worry me. As those kids got older, their parents moved them into pre-school situations and my daughter is now the oldest in the share which includes my now 9 month old boy and one other girl who is 1 1/2 yrs old. When the 1 1/2 yr old joined (she was 7 mos at the time) which was before my son was born, my daughter in essence got to ''practice'' having a younger sibling before her brother came along which was an unexpected bonus for us. My 9 mo old son is enraptured by the two ''big girls'' in his life and one can see how much he tries to keep up with the walking and talking girls. I guess my advice for you is that, given our experience, though there might be an ideal range of ages, there are benefits to each ''age-spread'' relationship and not worry too much about that being a part of interviewing families that might nanny-share with you-- if you haven't started interviewing families yet, believe me it is a lot harder just to find a family where everyone's needs match up. Certainly as the kids get older (2 +) there is probably more and more value of having same age kids together since they learn so much in having peer interactions, but at 6 mo. I just wouldn't worry about it too much. Good luck. LUISA

My son was in two nanny-share situations, one with a child a few months older than him, when they were both around 2 years old, and once with a child who was 9 months old when my son was 2 1/2. I ended up being more happy with the second situation that with the first. I will say, though, that I think it really depends more on the nanny than anything else. Though it could have been because they were two year old boys, there was a lot of fighting and rivalry-type behavior with the first share. With the baby, the nanny was able to attend to both children simultaneously without really dividing her attention -- she could hold the baby while pushing my son on the swing, they would read books together, she would sing songs to both of them. Plus my son developed a wonderful way of being with children who are smaller than he is (he has no younger siblings), something that we still see almost a year later. My son really got to be the ''big boy'' and developed a strong sense of responsibility, while his ''little sister'' just adored him -- her face lit up every morning when we arrived. No matter which way you choose to go, ideally interview the nanny while she has both children at once, to see how she attends to them. That will tell you the most. tara

For the last year and a half we have been sharing a nanny 2 days/week with the son of close friends who's the same age as our boy - they are two years old now. When our guys were 18 months, we started sharing with a third child who was 10 months old. She came on the days when the other little boy wasn't here. I thought it worked out great. The 10-m-old was more into lap sitting, while the 18-month-old wanted to run around and play, so the nanny would take them to the park and hold the younger child most of the time while the older one ran around with other tots. The parents of the younger child told us they thought her language skills really took off after she started hanging out with the big guy. The idea of the kids all being the same age is appealing, but truthfully I'm not sure our 2-year-olds really play together all that much - they spend a lot more time competing for the same toys! By the time they are 3, they'll be more into cooperative play, but they will be at a preschool by then. Having a range of ages is nice because it allows the nanny to devote more one-on-one time to the less independent younger child, instead of having two children with the same needs at the same time. She can hold the one that needs to be held, an older child can feed himself finger food while the nanny feeds the younger child, and so on. Ginger