January 10, 2005
Lori Berke is the co-author of Making Childcare Choices: How to Find, Hire and Keep the Best Childcare for Your Kids and co-founder of Care Check, Inc., a company that provides video surveillance equipment and answers the needs of parents who hire in-home help. Dr. Phil and Lori Berke offer advice for hiring a nanny and monitoring his/her relationship with your child.
When hiring potential nannies, keep the following in mind:
Request the following identification from an applicant:
Record and confirm all contact information and references.
Do a criminal background check.
When asking a question, ask for specific examples.
Look for red flags during an interview that may indicate problems.
Be wary of over-qualified applicants.
Some additional tips for the interview process:
The nanny should expect:
There is a way to monitor your caretaker without installing nanny cams. Consider these tips to find out whether your child is protected or neglected:
Count how many diapers there are and how many bottles of formula there are before you leave and when you get home.
Check the baby naked.
Parents often arrive home to find their kids already in pajamas. Then they leave in the morning and let the nanny put the kids in daytime clothing. So they never see their child undressed. Examine their bodies for bruises, scratches, bites or other injuries.
Be aware if you child is unusually clingy or has fear of caretakers.
Separation anxiety occurs between 6 to 8 months of age and may last until 2 to 3 years of age. Signs of separation anxiety before 6 months may suggest a problem. If it goes too far and goes too long and it’s just not within their range of personality, that is a red flag.
Trust your instincts.
A “mother’s instinct” is even better than a camera. Keep in mind, it may always be hard to turn your children over to someone, but you should trust your instincts if you have suspicions.
Allow a trial period where one parent is there with the nanny.
People will take a car for a test drive before they buy it, but they don’t always think to take a potential nanny for a test drive.
Consider these warning signs that your nanny may be mistreating or neglecting your child:
Explanations of injuries are inconsistent with the baby’s age and abilities.
For example, if your baby is not a crawler, he shouldn’t be bumping into things. Ask yourself, “Could my baby possibly be doing this?” Listen carefully for the explanation that is given.
Your child is more clingy than normal and shows prolonged fear of caretakers.
Again, there can be separation anxiety. But when if it goes too far and goes too long and it’s just not within their range of personality, that is a red flag.
Nanny over-exaggerates the extent of their daily activities.
Does every day sound like an exciting field trip? Sure, some days may include a trip to the park, going for walks, watching developmental videos, etc., but question whether it realistically occurs every day.
Nanny avoids eye contact and answers questions that are not asked.
You really have to see if they’re talking too much, if they’re telling you things that you don’t need to know.
Nanny leaves as soon as you arrive home.
The nanny should want to tell you about things your child did that day.
Is the nanny late a lot?
Being late doesn’t necessarily mean she’s neglecting your child, but a nonchalant attitude about when she arrives could carry over into the way she treats your child.
When your child is sick on weekends, does the nanny call to see how your child is doing?
She should care about your child whether she’s working or not. Does the nanny feel like part of the family?
Recent and unexplained behavioral changes in your child.
Insufficient amount of diapers or formula being used.
You may come home to a child who’s dry, but has your child been changed as many times as needed throughout the day?