Nanny Share - Age Ranges

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