It’s hard enough to leave your children with anyone that’s not you, but having to leave your infant? We’re talking next-level hard. But sometimes, it’s just a necessity. Whether it’s because you have an unusually short maternity leave or just feel overwhelmed and need to get away for an hour or so, hiring a nanny for an infant requires a great deal of forethought and careful screening.
We’ve come up with a list of the most important questions to ask a nanny for an infant. Of course, there may be many other questions you’ll want to ask a potential nanny (and don’t forget to check those references!), but the questions below pertain specifically to the critical job of infant care; you know, that round-the-clock cycle of feeding, diapering, and putting to sleep?
Oh yeah, and then doing it all again? It takes a special caregiver to handle a newborn’s continual needs, so you’ll want to be sure you hire the best nanny for your infant.
1. What is your specific experience with infants? How many infants have you cared for in the past, and what were their ages? Have you ever cared for both an infant and an older child? It’s never too early to plan for the future!
In order to get a better sense of your potential nanny’s experience with infants, ask her for a reference from a family whose infant has been in her care. Speak with the parents to ensure that she was a great nanny for this specific age group.
Another great way to increase your comfort level? Consider having your potential nanny shadow you for a few days before she officially starts the job. This will allow her to get a sense of your infant’s schedule and get comfortable handling a newborn again.
2. Have you completed any certification courses like infant care or CPR/First Aid?
Has your potential nanny completed any certification courses or nanny-specific training? If you like everything about her but she doesn’t have any formal training, consider paying the $35 fee for her to take the Newborn Care Specialist Certification from NCSA. Extra peace of mind for you and extra training for her—it’s a win-win!
3. Are you familiar with the most current sleep safety guidelines?
No parent wants to think about SIDS. It’s a nightmarish situation for sure, but it’s a tragic occurrence that can be reduced by following proper sleep safety guidelines. Ask your nanny if she’s familiar with the “Back to Sleep” campaign and how to swaddle an infant the right way.
4. Are you comfortable with/knowledgeable about storing/thawing breastmilk and/or preparing formula?
We all know that feeding a newborn can itself be a full-time job! So make sure your nanny is up-to-speed on your infant’s feeding needs. Not only does she need to know when your baby needs a feeding, but she’ll also need to know how to prepare a bottle if you’re formula feeding and how to store and thaw breast milk if you’re still nursing your baby.
5. Ask about how she would handle an emergency.
Before you hire a nanny for your newborn, have a candid chat about how she would handle an emergency if it arises. What would she do if your baby chokes or falls? What if the fire alarm goes off?
Ask specific questions about whether and when she’s dealt with emergencies on the job in the past and what she did to remedy the situation. It certainly doesn’t disqualify her if she’s never had to handle a sticky situation, but if she has, and she rocked it, well, wouldn’t you want to know that?
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Christin Perry is a freelance writer and editor living in the DC area. She specializes in the lifestyle genre and her writing has been published by The Knot, The Bump, and LittleThings.com.