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How To Pick A Nanny Who Is Practically Perfect In Every Way

A good nanny will be interviewing you too.

08/09/2016 3:00 PM AEST | Updated 14/09/2016 3:00 PM AEST
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If you find a Mary Poppins, please keep her.

If you think a nanny is just for the rich and famous and means you will have somebody else bringing up baby right from the birthing suite, think again.

A nanny can mean a range of things; you may have been gifted a few hours with a nanny service by your mother-in-law who lives interstate so can't be there to help mind your child; you might hire a nanny once a week so you and your partner can enjoy a date night; you could share a nanny with another family so you can also share the cost of personalised care for your children or you may employ a full-time nanny who can live in or out.

Regardless of how much time your nanny is spending with your child, they will be caring for your most precious possession(s), not only keeping them safe but being their role model, their confidante, their teacher and their security whenever you aren't around.

That's a big role and responsibility, not just for the nanny but for you. So how do you choose the person who will have so much influence over your child?

According to "nanny to the stars" Phillipa Christian, parents so often "focus on qualifications, but being a nanny is such a personal role, it's important to go beyond that.

"Your nanny will be teaching your child everything you are not -- you need to know what sort of morals, manners, grammar will this person be modeling for your child".

Louise Dunham, CEO of Melbourne-based nanny agency Placement Solutions, said: "Of course you need to check any prospective nanny's experience, references (thoroughly) and qualifications, which should include child-abuse prevention training, but to choose the best nanny, an intelligent mother will be watching for subliminal signs that the nanny will be responsive to her child."

"Watch how she relates to children, do her eyes light up, is she alert, aware and is she up to date with professional development. You don't want somebody who is working as a nanny just for some cash until a better job comes along."

Dunham recommends enlisting a reputable agency the first time you choose a nanny so most of the hard work of checking credentials and suitability will be done for you. Then, when you interview your prospective nanny, you can delve deeper by asking open-ended questions such as:

1. Describe a day looking after a three-year-old (or whatever age your child is)?

2. What would you do if my baby won't settle/my child has an allergic reaction/my child bites another person/any other likely scenarios that might happen with your child?

3. Under what conditions would you smack a child (the correct answer is 'never')?

Dunham said a good nanny will be interviewing you too.

"Just as you will need to know they are happy to support your parenting philosophy, they need to know that they are comfortable and compatible with your parenting style and what is expected of them," she said.

And, once you have found your perfect Miss Poppins, what's your biggest fear?

Could it be that your child will become too attached to the nanny? Even the rich and famous can feel insecure when their child seems to be growing too fond of the nanny.

In fact, Mariah Carey has been quoted as saying she fires nannies if they try to make themselves more important in the baby's mind than her.

However, while it can feel heartbreaking to see your child closely attached to another person, this can also be the best thing to happen. It means you have chosen your nanny with care and found the right person.

According to Educational and Developmental Psychologist Larissa McKay, children need to develop trusting relationships with all their carers so they feel safe and secure in their world and can trust that their needs will be met.

"Rather than feeling threatened or jealous of your child's connection to their nanny, try and see her as another special person in your child's life, like a member of your extended family such as a grandparent or auntie," she said.

"And if you feel you are missing out, put in some extra effort to spend time with your child and find something special that only you do with them. It may be that you are the only person who does your child's bedtime routine, for instance.

"You can't keep changing nannies because your child has formed a bond with them -- this is why it's so important to choose the best nanny in the first place," she said.

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Pinky McKay is the author of four books on parenting and blogs at www.pinkymckay.com. She will appear at the Essential Baby & Toddler Show in Sydney on September 23-25. She is on Facebook here.

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