Dynamics of working with a nanny

I am really curious to hear what people's experiences have been starting off with a new nanny. We started a nanny share last week with two 6 month olds. I met the other family on BPN and we interviewed nannies together. Our current nanny was the best candidate in our minds and her references had wonderful things to say about her, her work ethic, rapport with kids, etc. She has a background in childhood education, fairly extensive work experience caring for kids in various settings. Fast forward one week, I'm feeling less than confident about her ability to watch two infants in our home. Admittedly, I may have been expecting a super nanny so I have dialed back my expectations, but how have you handled the adjustment/ transition period? Do you walk your nanny through everything that you typically do with your baby? More than once? I know it's a lot to walk into a new work situation where everything, including all players, is new. I'm frankly surprised that our nanny doesn't seem to anticipate the needs of the babies and time things accordingly. I find I need to prompt her to consider whether the babies are hungry or tired or something else when they are crying. The reason I opted for a nanny vs daycare is so the babies get individualized care and aren't pushed to be on the same schedule as every other kid. Of course it helps and makes things easier when there is a schedule but particularly in the beginning, I believe activities should be baby-led, meaning the nanny clues in to the baby's specifics. Easier said than done with two infants and this is my first time working w/ a nanny. So my questions to parents are:

How hands on are you with your baby (stepping in and "rescuing" when baby escalates)? How much do you supervise the care vs sitting back and watch it happen? What's a reasonable amount of time to allow for nanny's and babies' adjustment period? Do you offer constant feedback to nanny as a way to help her get to know my baby's needs? What are the clear signs to you that it's time to reevaluate the situation? 

Parent Replies

Parents, want to reply to this question? Sign in to post.

First - I want to recognize how difficult it can be adjusting to someone else taking care of your baby (no matter how great the caregiver is!), so I am sure your stress and anxiety over this is very high. It took our family at least 2 weeks for transition period, your nanny has a lot to learn about 2 babies and your parenting style. I agree it is hard to have a set schedule for feeding & eating for 6 month old but you should have general "schedule guidelines" such as '"baby naps every 2.5-3 hours and naps should not exceed 2 hours at a time," that you can explain to her and write down.

We also found our baby bonded a lot quicker with our nanny when I was not present. I was still at home working, but I just stayed in my office. Often babies will act out when their mom/dad is around. I would also recommend not jumping in right away if the baby is crying (but of course do what makes you comfortable!).

If you still do not feel comfortable with your nanny after 4 weeks, then it might not be the best fit. Also, does her past experience include caring for 6-month-old babies?  Caring for 6-month-old babies vs. 1+ is very different.

If your nanny was only watching 1 infant, it’s feasible to have things be baby led. With 2 infants, it’s easier to put them on a schedule,  especially as they get older and more mobile and your nanny takes them for outings, she can time their mealtimes and naps. Babies are adaptable. 

I hired two nannies before I put my son into daycare. The first nanny was very experienced and she knew all the "nanny" stuff like what medicine to use, what not to use, how to swaddle, introducing solids etc. But my son did not like her. I came home once and his face was red and veiny and I knew he had been crying - hard. I suspected she was always on her phone and she would try and stay out of sight from the cameras we installed which made me very suspicious. She was also always late or didn't show up. Then we hired our second nanny, and she was terrific. Our son loved her and would coo when she came over. She wasn't a "professional nanny" or having super credentials, but she has 4 children and she was so loving and tender and sweet. I eventually let her go too because it became too expensive and we now have our son in daycare and he loves it. He will be one next month so he's older now. I would suggest finding someone you are comfortable with. When the nanny comes, give her the baby, see how she reacts. Interview her while she holds the baby and ask her about her own family, kids, ages, etc. Honestly, everyone knows how to do a good interview and appear sweet, but not all nannies are going to have the golden touch. But don't settle. Children grow so fast, keeping a bad nanny around for a few months could be a big part of your child's life and development. If there are things you like a certain way ask for them to be done. And if you want to stick to a schedule tell the nanny that is what you want. But you need to be comfortable, otherwise, there is no point in having a nanny. My nanny's name was Elodia and her number is 415-571-9615 - last time we spoke she still hadn't found a new family. She speaks mostly spanish but I would highly recommend her. 

I have had three nannies over several years and the biggest lesson I have learned is you get what you pay for.  Typically a Nanny share is to save money and there is always things the nanny can work on because they are juggling two children (sometimes of different ages), which I then had to manage more.  Having your own nanny is more expensive, but there is less managing.  Also, my 3rd nanny was more money than the 2nd, but I noticed that she was definitely more experienced.  They all seem to want $20+/hour, so if anyone is less that generally means they are not as good.  Obviously $20+/hour might be hard to swing so my advise is that you think of the price difference as your time spent to manage the person more.  Hope that helps!  

It sounds like you are home while the nanny is there. This is a tricky situation, but I think it is important to separate yourself from the scene and let the nanny do her job.  My son was in a nanny share at my house -- I was working at home 2-3 days a week. Starting out, both babies were 6 months. I can remember working at my computer and hearing my child or the other child crying, and wondering what I should do. I decided that if I intervened, the nanny would second guess herself and be constantly worried about what I thought about her abilities, worried about disturbing me while I was working. For my part, if I was constantly checking in with the nanny, I would not get my work done, thus defeating the point of having a nanny. So I decided to let her handle everything, even if there was screaming or loud bumps or whatever. I told her that if she needed me, I'd be happy to help, and not to hesitate to come interrupt me, but otherwise I'd be in my office working. Then I did not leave my office while she was caring for the kids. I don't remember her ever coming to get me except for one time when the other little boy toddled off to a closet to hide and she couldn't find him. We searched the house together. But I trusted the nanny and I felt that she was a kind and capable person, even if she didn't do everything the way I would have done. She was a mom herself and I had observed her interacting with her own son, and I liked the way she was with my child too, so I felt that everything would be OK. She was really, really great. 

You have to take the leap and give her a chance to be the nanny, and try not to insert yourself.  OTOH if you are still feeling uncertain after 2-3 weeks, and you think it's the nanny, not just having a nanny, maybe she's not the right nanny for you. Don't feel bad about ending the share if you don't feel comfortable with it.