Daycare / nanny / babysitter thread — The Bump
May 2017 Moms

Daycare / nanny / babysitter thread

Reposting from the randoms thread

wondering how to involve a stranger to care for my toddler and newborn in my own home? So far, our schedules have allowed us to be the only caregivers for DS. Things may be changing with our move - our mothers may be able to help but if not, or not enough, we have been toying with the idea of getting a part time nanny/babysitter. This makes me super nervous even though I know people do it everyday. Any and all perspectives welcomed, please and thank you in advance. 

DS1 7/24/15

DS2 5/7/17

Re: Daycare / nanny / babysitter thread

  • Everyone I am close with SAH but I have one close friend who uses a friends older daughter. She's more comfortable because they know the family (acquaintances) and the daughter loves her kids. Personally I have no experience but I know a lot of people post on neighborhood things such as the Nextdoor app and have had luck with their caregivers. 

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  • I don't have much advice, but I understand what you're feeling! I used to babysit during junior high and high school, but when it comes to my kids I've only relied on family (with the exception of one daycare provider). I don't even want to consider finding a high schooler for date nights. I beg my sister to watch the munchkins. 
    By best suggestion would be to do some interviewing after a few people express interest in watching your kiddos. Lay out your expectations and have them interact with the kids. Maybe do a trial run where you're at home but completely uninvolved so you can kinda monitor or listen just to get a sense of how things will go.  Good luck!
  • We had a regular babysitter for awhile that we loved. She was a friend's nanny that we used for random weekend nights. So if you have a friend who can refer someone, that seems like a good route. We also use a babysitting app. The sitters are all vetted through the app and you pay through the app as well. We've had good luck with several college age girls (usually early education majors). We just used a sitter off of there tonight. 

    May17 Siggy Challenge
  • We also use recommendations from neighbors! 

    In college I was an early education major and was a nanny! If your near a university I would look to see if they have a job postings site. Local companies or people could post directly looking for students to work/intern and there were always families who posted looking for a nanny, that's how I found the family I worked for. Most education majors have to have a finger print clearance card and CPR certification to be able to observe or intern in the schools. It could give you some peace of mind knowing they have a background check basically through the state! 
    Married 03.09.09
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    Little Brother Due 05.22.17
  • I used to be the director of a daycare so it was pretty easy to trust my kids with the providers.  I hired them, after all.  But when I left they hired some people I wasn't really sure of and I ended up pulling the kids.  We went the au pair route because we pre-matched with a student we hosted the year before.  It's great!  The kids love her, we love her.  She has to leave in July because her Visa is expiring and she doesn't think she can come back.  It will be tough.  Luckily, my MIL will be coming to help us out for a while.  We have a daycare shortage in town and won't be able to get into any day cares given that I have an infant (there are no infant spots) so we may need to explore the option of another au pair.  It stresses me out thinking of bringing in a stranger.

    B born 7/15/13, C born 3/2/15, #3 on the way May '17

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  • skeetiedskeetied
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    We have a steady sitter that I found on (my kids attend a parent participation preschool so that forced the issue with no local family).  It can take a long time to sort through responses and such and we had some false starts (one sitter stayed with us for eight months before moving and one was not reliable).

    With all three we've had, I spent time watching them interact with my kids and then even more time hanging out in a nearby room where I could overhear what was going on.  My kids have internet linked cameras as baby monitors in their rooms and we have a doorbell camera so I can still peek in once in a while (our sitter knows they exist).  At this point, it's more for my own amusement or to see what they're up to than any serious concern for their well being.
    Feb 2012:  DS1 born 40w2d, 7 lb 11 oz, 20"
    May 2014:  DS2 born 40w3d, 10 lb, 23"

    Due May 2017 with DD1!
  • Thanks ladies. @NotAPlaya-JustCrushAlot & @hp_momma I'm going to definitely check out the universities near us for early education majors with CPR certification and background checks. 

    @jcwhitey that's too bad about your au pair. FX you find another that's equally as lovely. 

    @mamatowildones and @skeetied yes, I'll definitely check out those apps/sites. 

    @SWoodd2012 yeah, major anxiety about it. However we find this person, we'll definitely do a (or many) trial run(s). 

    I'm still hoping we don't need to go this route, although, better to be prepared with options than be stuck with nothing. 

    DS1 7/24/15

    DS2 5/7/17

  • @mrsrep123 we are 100% lost in this category.  We can't agree on what we will do with LO when I go back to work.  We are in a situation where we are totally alone.  No family within drivable distance to watch baby, no friends who don't work.  We either have to go to daycare full time or hire a full time nanny. DH definitely sees the nanny situation as a "stranger" in our home with our baby.  I see it as the only viable option due to our schedules and the inability of me to miss work when daycare decides they have to go home sick.  We are hoping to go see some daycares in the near future (like in a few weeks) and try to make our decision from there.  It's been tough because we both feel so strongly about our position.  

  • For full time care, I would also add that we've always used a center and always been very pleased with them. The sick days are a downside, but there are also some companies who will provide care for sick kids on short notice. I've never used one. Much like the app I use for random sitting, the providers are vetted.  

    May17 Siggy Challenge
  • If I had a stranger in my home I would probably have some cameras around the house. My son goes to a smaller in home day care and so far my experience has been great. It would be easier to have someone come to my house 1:1 but I feel that there is safety in numbers and with a licensed daycare provider. You can check your states website for licensed daycare providers and also view any reports of inspections or complaints. I started there to see which places had no violations, then I checked to see the proximity to my house . I called and went on some tours. I was only 12 weeks pregnant at the time and got put on a waiting list. Luckily a spot opened up just in time for my ds to attend. If your going on a tour, make sure you go when they are busy and full of kids to get an idea of a typical day. When I went on a tour of my current daycare I noticed the 2 owners gave hugs goodbye and said I love you to the kids, my husband thought this was weird but I thought that it showed that the owners really cared about the children. You can also ask how long the children have attended and how often a spot opens up. If spots rarely open up and the children stay for years, that's a good sign. My daycare also gave me a list of phone numbers of references who have children that currently attend . 

  • We looked at nannies, and we just didn't find anyone we were comfortable with for an infant.  I would have felt better with some kind of referral from a friend or friend of a friend.  But in the absence of that, I have a few friends who have "mother's helpers" or nannies who watch the kiddos while they're at home (while friends are working at home, doing school work, or just need a bit of a break) who they found on, local daycare/nanny Facebook groups or NextDoor.  Maybe starting with something like that would make you feel better, so you can ease into it and see how they are with your kiddos?
  • I was a nanny before being a nurse, and even after I've done a lot of babysitting. I used, and then word of mouth. I made business cards, and gave them to families who passed them onto their friends. Word of mouth was the most lucrative for me. PLUS, as a nanny, it was important to me that I get along with the kids and families as much as they did me.

    Personally, I don't like the idea of cameras. If you have a bad feeling enough that you feel the need to put cameras in your home, you shouldn't hire that person.

    I think a thorough screening (references, background check) is important. I would only take someone CPR and first aid certified. My best advice outside  of (which takes a lot of weeding through) I'd say find someone through your other mommy friends.

    Now, as a mother-to-be, I don't think I could choose a high schooler or even young college person. I want someone who has the maturity to take care of my baby, so while age specifically isn't part of my criteria, it is definitely something I'd be looking at.

    I think a nanny/babysitter is important, and I trust them, but I think there's a good way to go about it.Your nanny/babysitter should be comfortable caring for your child in front of you, and the way you want. They should be trained. They should be experienced. They should be able to point out references that aren't their family/friends.

    If you have any questions, I'd be happy to continue this dialogue as it's something I'm passionate about. :)
  • @jayandaplus: So much good info! You said needs a lot of weeding through, and I wonder what your criteria are. You give tips on what a person should have (CPR, etc.) but what are the red flags (besides age)? What do you notice listed on someone's profile that's a no-go for you?
  • @jayandaplus Thank you for your input. You are a wealth of information! I'll definitely take you up on your offer as we will start doing some actual research and investigation in a couple of weeks as we are bombarded with other things right now. I want our focus and attention on this when it's possible. For now, I'm going to start a list of our routine and expectations and then another for what we want in a caregiver. Thanks for sparking my neurons!

    DS1 7/24/15

    DS2 5/7/17

  • Our "evening/date night" babysitters are usually our youth group girls from church. We know them, they volunteer in the nursery on Sunday's and we know their parents. While we can't use them for a "nanny" it is a great building block for us. 

    All of our kids attend the daycare I used to work at, which is actually at our church (but not affiliated w our denomination) and the twins will too. My best friend happens to be the preschool teacher and I know how they clean the rooms, toys, handle discipline, and their hiring policies. We aren't totallly keen on an in home nanny. I want them to be able to socialize with other kids and DH feels like they get cooped up at home. 

    We are a college town, and have had some interviews with some who have put ads in the college paper and the local paper. It worked out really well, and we use these "older" ladies for longer stints. 

    doesn't really answer anyone's questions but this is how we survive:)
  • I think @slowmo raises a good point. Letting someone care for your kids and in your home takes time, patience, and strength. 
  • PPs have made great points but I had just wanted to add that no matter which route you choose, if you aren't able to take a lot of time off work you'll want to make sure you have backups in place. Daycares will send your LO home if (when) he/she is sick. They also close for bad weather which could be a factor depending on where you live and how strict your work is about coming in when weather is bad. Nannies also take sick days and likely have vacation time built into their contract. This shouldn't add up to many days of missed work but if missing work is a big deal you'll want to be sure you have backup care options.
  • Personally I think this thread could have been two separate ones -- babysitters and daycares (with nannies falling in either place), but I will write a novel about all of our experiences and advice with all of these things.

    We only used a nanny for the first 9 mo of DS's life. Other than that, both kids have been in daycares the whole time. To find a nanny, we went through with much success and it worked again when we needed some regular sitting at other intervals. We loved our nanny. The thing about nannies--ours in particular--is that when they have a sick day you are screwed. I say ours in particular because she had like 7 kids, so whenever one of them was sick she had to be off. It was ok, though. We paid her by the hour (so not for sick time and the like, though we did give her a few paid days off when she hurt her back), and DID end up paying taxes and everything, i.e. doing it the above-board way. I believe we paid her $13/hr in a medium/high COL area back in 2011. I would say in general nannies are good for those early months. I imagine they are also good when you have a few kids because then they can save you $. But we have liked the daycare route.

    As for daycares, we have generally found very good ones, and have paid the price for them! However, we did spend about 9 months at a bad one without fully realizing it. Things to look for in a good daycare: word of mouth / parent recommendations, low teacher turnover (ask about this), low/good ratios, various accreditations/merit awards that will vary by state, a good vibe on the visit (are staff attentive, or are babies ignored? do staff look happy or annoyed? are babies restrained or free (free is better)? in the older classes, are there kids who seem out of control/badly behaving? if so, how are the teachers responding to this? is the outdoor space good? does all of the classroom equipment look age-appropriate, safe, engaging? do they provide meals and if so what is the menu? What is the schedule and nap policy/environment? if you cloth diaper, what is their policy about that?) You can also ask about behavior policies, how they manage that, and dismissal policies. This is more for older kids, of course. If your kid is obviously a saint then maybe you won't mind a very strict dismissal policy. But a better daycare will work extensively with a "problem" kid (with success!) before dismissing. If you don't have a saint for a kid that is what you want to hear because you don't want to be dropped and you DO want them to help your kid do better and be happier. Though it's very good to trust your daycare and get in the mentality that they are the experts and you leave it all up to them, it's also good to always be on notice and evaluating them. If something seems wrong/off, don't be afraid to at least START looking for another daycare. Sometimes the "off" thing can be that your kid hates it there (but some kids will hate any place in the beginning.) That's what we didn't really do at our "bad" daycare, which we had suspicions about for a while. It's just that ALL of the other parents were OBSESSED with this place and completely loved it. We ended up having to leave because they simply could not handle our son (and were making some sloppy/stupid mistakes with our daughter, too), and as it turns out we were right--they just closed last week due to mismanagement, some bad personnel, and a series of very unfortunate circumstances. When we left we felt like the weirdos so we weren't really critical of the place when other parents said they'd be sending their kids there, and now I feel bad for not speaking my mind more! The abrupt closure has been very hard on all of the families. Meanwhile, my daughter completely loves the new place where she is, and my son has done galactically better in Kindergarten and in the place he was in over the summer leading to it.

    My other main advice on daycares -- most (at least the good ones!) have VERY long wait-lists, especially for babies. If you're going on a long leave, SAH for a while, or getting a nanny at first, I still highly recommend getting on some lists now for the fall or next year. Your situation might change, and if you wait until later to decide to go for it, you might need to wait another year. For our first place, we were able to put in about 9 mo ahead of time and get a spot, but we had an affiliation advantage, and another place in the area that we put in for literally took us off the list 2-3 years later after we had moved away. For the next place, which was after we moved, we were able to get a toddler spot for Sept when we asked in March. But when we told them we were pregnant with #2 and I was about 20 weeks along, they couldn't get her in the infant class until she was about 6 mo old. However, another good place was able to take her when we were ready, at 3 mo old. (We actually loved that place, but did move her for convenience to match with DS, and still loved the infant room at DS's school.) Then we moved again, and were able to get in the "bad" daycare 6 mo ahead of enrolling. We were super lucky that another good one had spots when we had to move them. They were both 2+ at this time, though, which is usually easier than the baby. For #3, I got on the list for a different daycare when I was about 11 weeks pregnant. I'm still on the waitlist technically, but odds look good we can start in July/August. But yeah, when you do the math, this means the waitlist is about 10 mo. I tried for another, better place, and their infant room is full for the Sept 2017 start of the year (sibling/employee priority).

    Now finally, the occasional babysitter. We have a long list of occasional babysitters we find through local advertising (our neighborhood has this "" app) and a nearby university. We'll get references when we can. I *think* I trust all of these people but it can be hard to say, and some of them only come by once or twice. Honestly, we mostly trust our kids' judgment and go with who they say they like. They're also old enough to say things like, "Jenna showed us a video on her phone!" (a no-no). I will have to readjust to get infant care expectations because we haven't had to do that in quite some time! I'm also wondering what might be needed to get someone to sit for 3 kids. I'm obviously willing to pay more, but I wonder if we need to search in different networks to find someone good enough, or whether I need to sometimes hire a pair of friends to do it.

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  • @kat81 any chance you're free to come daycare shop with me?  :smile:  Your advice is excellent and I may just print it out and take it with me to check out our daycares.  
  • @kat81 thank you for input. I'm already getting sad thinking about leaving baby girl at a daycare and I had no clue what things to look for when I go visit the center we are looking at. I guess i would probably googled this later. I'm scrambling to figure how I can work from home for a few days. My husband is already off on Mondays, so If I just have 2 days at home, I might feel better. 
  • @rkstro2 @MrsCPALeslie we've been around the block, I guess! As I started writing I remembered more and more questions you can ask these people. Hopefully this means that the daycare experience for #3 won't have any glitches, right? We'll see.

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  • So much good advice from @kat81! I wish I would have seen this when I was daycare shopping three years ago. I wanted to echo that teacher turnover is important. I loved my son's infant room teachers, but I became nervous when he moved to the toddler room and it seemed like there were new caregivers all the time. Like I had no idea who these people were who were caring for my kid. Now he's in a part-time preschool program staffed with more experienced teachers who have been there forever. I can tell he's much more comfortable (as am I) seeing the same faces every day.

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    Bumping this thread since I'm now in the "single digits" for counting down the weeks left! Hope that's okay.

    I re-read this thread and really do appreciate everyone's wise takes on this topic.

    @jayandaplus: Regarding the advice you gave earlier... and, this is about finding a few good short-notice/part-time/date-night/afterschool babysitters (not a nanny/daycare situation): Do you think it's better to post a specific job and check out the respondents (like you said, to ensure that they've actually read what I initially posted) (but then that might be culling out good sitters who just aren't available for that specific date), or go through the database myself looking for potentials and cold messaging them? Or spend the effort to do both? (Or can I even post a "job" that's open-ended and not date-specific?)

    I'm ready to dive into this, but need a nudge in the right direction. Thanks!
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    Wait, another one: Does it sound weird to want to meet with someone for an interview/quick-kid-playdate for an hour maybe (in my home) to suss them out before a real "I'm not here" situation? (And what about not intending to pay them. Of course, we'd discuss that part ahead of time.) Your thoughts?
  • SKZW said:
    Wait, another one: Does it sound weird to want to meet with someone for an interview/quick-kid-playdate for an hour maybe (in my home) to suss them out before a real "I'm not here" situation? (And what about not intending to pay them. Of course, we'd discuss that part ahead of time.) Your thoughts?
    I think this is normal and I have had friends do it. They paid the potential nanny for their time though. 
  • @SKZW So, I have no childcare experience through, but I did want to offer my 2 cents. I think it'd definitely be ok to search the database and "cold message", as you said, anyone you might be interested in. I've used to offer pet care services, and I have had people message me out of the blue before. Whenever I had someone message me this way, I knew they were looking for someone with lots of experience and had already read my pricing requirements and such. I wasn't always able to take their jobs, but I felt like these people were serious about finding someone qualified. If you do go the route of posting jobs to look for people to message you, I'd definitely add as much detail about what you're looking for as possible. I usually wouldn't bother applying for jobs where the poster didn't provide enough info, because I didn't want to go down a rabbit hole just to learn it wasn't a good fit.

    In regards to your other post about meeting people in your home before hiring them, I think that's a great idea. Again, no childcare specific experience here, but I would often meet with clients before they hired me for pet care jobs. I feel like it's a perfectly acceptable thing to ask to make sure it's the right fit.
  • @SKZW we posted a nanny opening on and got all kinds of responses. Some from people who were very qualified and clearly wanted the job and some from people who clearly didn't read the advertisement.  I only say that because plenty of people answered our full time ad saying they could babysit part time or in evenings.  I think if you posted a job (even part time or babysitting) you could get plenty of people interested and get to meet them via email, phone, or in person.  So far our experience has been great and we are meeting our primary candidate in person this week! Hope you get your job posted and get some interest soon.  Getting a couple of excellent candidates who are interested has got me really excited instead of the extreme anxiety I was feeling before.  
  • SKZW said:
    Wait, another one: Does it sound weird to want to meet with someone for an interview/quick-kid-playdate for an hour maybe (in my home) to suss them out before a real "I'm not here" situation? (And what about not intending to pay them. Of course, we'd discuss that part ahead of time.) Your thoughts?
    When I was a nanny in college, before I was hired by the family I had an interview in their home and interacted with the kids. I talked with the mom for a bit first and then the mom did some housework while I played with the kids (they were 2 month old twins). I didn't find it weird at all and I didn't get or expect to be paid for that, I just considered it an interview. 
    Married 03.09.09
    Sweet Baby H 12.21.11
    Sassy Baby P 03.26.14
    Little Brother Due 05.22.17
  • @SKZW Yes, I'd recommend posting a job (and you can do date night with no specific date) and going through sitters and messaging them directly.

    As for meeting in your home, 100 percent yes. I felt more comfortable meeting the child and family first, as a nanny/sitter. It goes both ways. Also, I never got paid for that so I don't think you should feel obligated to do that. From my experience, it's part of the whole gig. Good questions!!
  • @Kipperoo is my toddler mom soulmate. All the love for daycare centers. I'm actually flying to to where we are moving in a few weeks to find him a new center to help ease his transition. He thrives on the social aspect and the structure so I want to have a new one available as soon as we get to the new house even though there will inevitably be an adjustment period. 

    We did use to find a date night sitter once and I agree if you post something you get some weird replies but we ended up finding someone great. We called our top two and had them by to talk and get a feel for them. After the meetings it was a pretty good gut check and we knew who was right for us. We didn't have her trial sit or anything like that, over about a half hour of us talking she got up within the first three and began playing with our son while talking to us which was great. I didn't think we needed a trial separation run or anything after that. 

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  • +1 for loving daycare.  Our daycare totally potty trained DS for us.  We had to do a little bit at home but they did 90% of the work and as @Kipperoo the peer pressure aspect of watching other kids do it helped immensely I'm sure.  Additionally, I had some concerns about DS's gross motor development (he was pretty slow to crawl and walk) and it was amazingly helpful to be able to ask the teachers their thoughts and get their suggestions for helping him along.  He ended up being fine but knowing that if he did have delays there were resources in place to help him was very comforting. 

    To answer @SKZW's question, I have posted individual job adds on for short-term nanny positions, date night sitters, and mother's helpers for this next baby when I'm going through chemo.  As others have said you'll get a variety of responses and will have to weed through them but I have had a really good experience and have found awesome people.  And I don't think its weird at all to have an interview scenario where you have do some housework and the person plays with the baby.  I kind of wish we had done that because I probably seemed like a clueless mom during my interviews where I held DS the whole time and just asked questions.
  • For what it's worth, @SKZW, regardless of what kind of position you post on, a lot of the individuals on there are (at least in our area) will respond just in the hopes of locking down some kind of permanent role. We live about an hour away from both of our families, and while they are still close enough to help on occasion, it's just a tad too far for the random night we just want to escape for dinner. So I posted a position on, just saying that we were hoping to find a regular babysitter, and got replies from people looking for full time nanny roles. I got nearly 200 replies before I pulled the ad! We went through the replies and picked about 5 to interview. Three of the five confirmed that they would come over for about an hour or two (paid) to let us chat with them and and interact with DS. Three of the five no showed. One wasn't a good fit and one worked out great - until she left for college two months later! LOL. All of that babbling was just to say that there are TON of options on

    Also, for what it's worth, I'm pro-daycare. We have DS in a Goddard school (he'll be 2 in July).  He gets really excited each morning when I ask if he's ready for "school". Most of the teachers at the center know his name, even if they aren't in charge of his class. Also, the socialization and what they've taught him has been great. He says please and thank you (well....."says" it. He babbles it). He understands the concept of cleaning up. They've started teaching colors. All of these are things that we've touched on at home, but with both of us working full time, there is no way he'd know as much as he does without the teachers at daycare. 

    Baby 1-Born: 7/29/15
    Baby 2 - Due: 5/4/17
  • Bump for @MTB16

    DS1 7/24/15

    DS2 5/7/17

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