childcare: how to choose an au pair or nanny for your child

Choosing a nanny or au pair for your child isn’t an easy task, especially as it involves trusting someone new with your offspring. Wondering how to find exactly the right person to look after your kids? Baby’s First Sitter suggests you follow this advice.

Choosing a nanny or au pair: establish your needs and requirements 

It can take sifting through many applicants and countless interviews to find the perfect nanny, childminder or au pair to fit your family. The team at Baby’s First Sitter can do this for you, but if you’d prefer to do it on your own, first know what requirements you have, then use the below checklist to help choose the right nanny or au pair.

  • Do you only need help in the morning, or the afternoon?
  • Do you need need someone who can drive to collect the kids and cared for at home until you finish work?
  • Do you have additional requirements that the person will need to do, like personal errands or house work?
  • Do you need someone full time or only two or three days a week.
  • What’s your budget?

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Checklist: what to consider when hiring a nanny or au pair

These are the non-negotiables that Baby’s First Sitter use to vet the nannies, au pairs and babysitters they hire:

• 3-5 years of experience

This is a minimum requirement for us but most of our sitters have more than this. Experienced sitters have more confidence and know how to put both parent and child at ease. Ensuring that info is exchanged with the sitter beforehand, will give both parties piece of mind and avoid the sitter calling unnecessarily! Our sitters will send a courtesy message during the sit, to let the parents know that the kids are ok.
We encourage those with less experience to gain more hours through volunteer work. This is a great in gaining more experience but also an element of community service. There is nothing more valuable than time! Offering your time to a busy mum or dad can be gold. This way, it’s one hand washing the other, the parent is being helped, the sitter is gaining experience and when they return to us, there is a contactable reference to affirm all of the above.

• Trustworthy

This is why it is important that the sitter has experience so that we may decipher this through contactable references first, followed by an interview impression. We contact as many references as possible in order to understand their work ethic, energy and rapport with parents. Above experience, It’s Imperative that a sitter/nanny/Au pair is always professional, respectful, reliable and punctual.

• CPR or First Aid Certification

We are partnered with a wonderful company called safe-med. Safe-Med is accredited with the resuscitation Council of Southern Africa and the American Heart Association, to provide CPR and First Aid Training in accordance with international standards of resuscitation. Refresher courses are done every 2 years to retain information and practice of course

• Police Clearance

It is no secret that a parent is weary of most people who will interact with their child. Similarly, in any type of recruitment an employer would appreciate knowing the ‘criminal’ status of a future employee. The police clearance is an official document used to verify a person’s current criminal status (within 6 months).
We require that status to be negative in nature, meaning that there are no criminal offenses recorded on this persons’ name. Our Babysitters are required to update this yearly.

• Patience, passion and a love for working with children!

It is safe to assume that most sitters have a passion for children and this is how they came to following a career in child care services. That being said, perhaps it was just a job at first and evolved into a passion for working with kids and the need to pursue further. Either way, we believe it is a prerequisite for becoming a sitter/nanny/ Au pair on our books.
Other Certifications are always a bonus! This could include early childhood development, night nursing, Au pair courses. It is imperative that a sitter is equipped with the right amount skills and confidence to make parents and children feel comfortable.
Our wonderful Childcare professionals are often studying alongside their babysitting career and may be working towards a career in teaching, occupational and speech therapy.

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Advice from a babysitter: what to look for when choosing a nanny or au pair for your child

I would suggest looking for someone who is approachable, friendly, and willing to partake in outdoor activities – you don’t want someone who is going to worry about getting a little messy. A child needs a caregiver who is compassionate, patient and who can deal with various personality types, whether the child is an introvert, extrovert or has something like ADHD.

Ideally you want someone who doesn’t treat childcare as a ‘job’ – children should feel like having their babysitter or nanny with them is fun.

It’s also crucial to consider past experience and whether they have a driver’s license. It’s so important that a sitter have a good understanding of child discipline, and respect for the rules set out by the parents – I, for example, wouldn’t feel comfortable with my sitter reprimanding my child. Lastly, a sitter should have respect for the family’s home and belongings, leaving the house in a way that reflects this.

Advice from a nanny to a parent on choosing a childminder

Remember that you are the expert on your child – you know them better than any childminder will. Listen to your gut feeling. You know that feeling or little voice in your head that tells you that something seems off or preferably, just right? Along with reputable references, use this instinct to make a decision that feels right for you and your family.

The individual that you choose to take on the role of looking after your child should be patient, understanding and willing to learn and adapt. Every child is different and they need to understand this in order to adapt to various environments and situations that may be unfamiliar to them. It is always helpful if a childminder has previous experience.

You want a sitter that can create a fun environment to encourage the kids to have as much fun, if not more fun than the parents while they’re away!

Keeping kids entertained can be a nightmare. One moment they’re all excited about an activity, the next they’re bored! So choose a babysitter who is prepared for anything with an activity bag or fun ideas to keep kids entertained away from devices like TV or iPads. Babysitters, au pairs and child minders constantly have to be on the lookout for new ideas and activities to keep kids entertained at home, especially during these Covid times. But you can keep kids busy with the simplest things (age dependent, of course).

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Kids love your attention – find some time to spend reading their favourite book or playing a game they love. Sometimes kids love to help with chores like cooking or cleaning so let them help (or let them pretend that they’re helping!).

Kids love creating things – help them come up with ideas for things to make using simple household items like toilet rolls and ice cream sticks. This is a chance to let your own imagination and creativity flow!

It is also okay to let kids watch TV or play on the iPad, as long as this time is monitored and done in moderation (we know you need that little break!).
It can be overwhelming to make important decisions and to keep kids entertained, but they won’t be kids forever and before you know it, they’re all grown up. Cherish all the little moments, ask for support when you need it and take it one day at a time!

Twins Candace and Cindy are the parents of Baby’s First Sitter and they take pride in creating better connections between families and sitters. At Baby’s First Sitter our core principles, both individually and collectively, encompass love, family, connection, community, support, excellence and experience. Baby’s First Sitter is more than just an agency, it’s a family and community of support. Our quality promise is a bouquet of professional, vetted and passionate sitters who engage with your children and go the extra mile. Reliable, same-day bookings, night nurses, au pair and nanny placements, and special needs care. We have you covered!