Hiring A Nanny Or Babysitter: Red Flags To Watch Out For & How To Choose A Good One

Parents must balance two titanic forces within their psyches: the primal instinct to protect their child at any cost, and the fierce temptation to grab every scrap of child-free time they can affordably enjoy. These forces are in powerful tension when the issue of hiring a nanny or babysitter comes up.

In the following items, Redditors explore the question of when a potential nanny sets their parent-sense tingling. What's the difference between legitimate concern and paranoid protectiveness, and how can the bleary, sleep-deprived brain of a new parent make the right call?

  • They're Over-Eager To Start

    Everybody likes an enthusiastic caretaker, but this former Redditor found a prospective nanny who seemed to want the job a little too much. This, among other alarm bells, sent her to the Reddit hivemind in search of feedback. "She kind of sounded like she was pressuring us to let her start sooner ('oh you guys must be so tired, why don't you bring him over and catch up on sleep!')," she writes. "My husband thought she was just being super nice and generous but I found it odd."

    Redditor /u/Stephananny responds: "[I]f your gut is saying no then don't do it. There is nothing wrong with saying, 'we have decided to go in a different direction.' It sounds like this woman is really eager and probably has been turned down for a lot of jobs."

  • They're Pushy About Boundaries

    The former Redditor was thrown when the same candidate said that she "couldn't wait to start buying more baby stuff!" This seemed to the new mother like crossing some kind of a line. "I don't feel comfortable knowing she's buying stuff for her house for my kid? Like once she does, am I obligated to her?"

    Redditor /u/statersgonnastate concurs, noting that "hear[ing] that she wanted to start early and buy baby things without any job offers from you makes me feel yucky. I would wonder what else she might be pushy or boundary stomping on."

  • Their Requested Rate Is Abnormally Low

    Strike three? The same candidate "said her rates were $10-$12 per hour," according to the former Redditor.  "Nannies around here EASILY get $20 per hour. She said she knew that but thought it seemed like a lot. We actually told her that seemed low and offered $15, but why was she so willing to accept so much less?"

  • They  Seem Confused About Children's Basic Needs

    From Redditor /u/gillandred:

    "Recently she started mixing up my bottles of breastmilk with bottles of formula. I have the bottles lined up by date and she put them in a different order and put bottles of formula right next to them. Her former clients were high-powered lawyers who did not breast-feed and I wonder if she feels uncomfortable giving the baby my milk?

    I let the nanny know that I like the baby to be taken outdoors at least once a day. I offered her the option of using the stroller to take a walk around the block or if she can sit on the gazebo in the backyard. I thought she would appreciate not feeling trapped in the house, but she seems very intimidated by the idea of taking the baby out in a stroller."

    In response, Redditor /u/kynanny says:

    "The not wanting to take baby out does seem odd, I love taking mine out and normally its the parents asking me to keep them in. When interviewing what did she say about activities? Does she expect to be on the couch all day? A 20min walk wont hurt anyone or a couple visits to the gazebo."

    But Redditor /u/dshort44 suggests:

    "Maybe the nanny is out of shape and doesn't like to walk, in that case you can't make her. Tell her to sit outside and if she doesn't want to tell her you will find someone who does."

  • They're Cagey About Their Caretaking Methods

    Redditor /u/gillandred is also put off by the nanny's refusal to answer a direct question clearly, or to document her process: "At the end of the day when I ask the nanny how much formula she's given the baby she always appears very flustered - she starts babbling and incoherently rattling off numbers. I asked her to keep a written journal of how much she's fed the baby but she seems annoyed by this."

    Redditor /u/kynanny replies: "everyone needs to be on the same page about when and what baby is eating... especially if baby is having weight issues. I always keep logs for parents, diapers, naps, feeding, foods, and special activities. Its pretty standard."

  • They Ask For An Advance, Only To Spend It On Your Child

    From Redditor /u/gillandred:

    "Recently she bought a present for my daughter -- I thought that was very odd considering she had told me the other day that she was a little short on gas money and had asked for an advance on her salary. Honestly it feels like any gift giving should be going in the opposite direction -- it seemed like a red flag to me that she'd want to spend her own money on my child."

    But Redditor /u/Korsola feels this is an overreaction:

    "I honestly wouldn't worry about the gift. Her finances are her business. I've bought my charges gifts before because I saw activities I thought they'd enjoy or a cute outfit I couldn't resist."