Should a Nanny Care for Your Sick Child?

When your kid gets sick it causes all sorts of worry. For working parents, it starts with sheer concern for your child’s wellbeing, then inevitably spirals into so much stress around how you’re going to make your morning meeting or sneak away from a busy day to run your baby to the doctor.

One of the benefits of using a nanny over a daycare is that you have more leeway when illness strikes. Daycares do not permit any child with a fever to attend, whereas some nannies may be open to caring for kids with a low-grade fever or even a high fever. To prevent added stress when illness strikes, parents and nannies should agree on sick-day terms and put them in a nanny contract. But even with clear guidelines on how and when a nanny is responsible for continuing care of a sick child, there’s still a lot for parents to consider. 

Before you make the call to head to work or take time off, these are the decision-making considerations to run through.  


If your child has a fever and a stuffy nose but is happily playing, heading off to work while your nanny steps in may be an easy decision. But if there are serious symptoms present (or to watch for) or your child is in a lot of pain or discomfort, staying home to care for them personally may be the best thing for everyone. And sometimes parents may need to consult a medical professional to confidently make the call.  


This factor should be considered along with the severity of an illness or symptoms. As a general rule, if your child has been cleared to return to school or has been well enough to attend, it’s typical for a nanny to continue to care for your child at home. A common cold is contagious but may not warrant a sick day, whereas the flu may warrant a period of quarantine to protect those inside and outside of your house.


Parents should also think about their nanny’s training and experience level. In order to step away, you’ll want to feel confident that your nanny can administer medicine like Tylenol and watch for concerning behaviors or symptoms. You also need to trust they’re savvy enough to ensure your child is eating, drinking and resting as needed which can often be a challenge when they’re under the weather. 


Unfortunately, parents do also have to evaluate the scenario in relation with how much paid time off they have available. Some have no choice but to leave their sick child with their nanny, while others may have family nearby that they can call on when it makes them more comfortable–or when a nanny is uncomfortable continuing care.  


While your nanny contract should outline the approach to a range of sick situations, it’s important to keep communication open at all times between parents and nannies. Alert your nanny of your child’s symptoms and your considerations as soon as possible to create transparency that makes decision-making easier for both of you. If your nanny does care for your child when they’re sick, cleaning should be a previously-agreed upon responsibility. Following good hygiene and disinfecting shared objects and surfaces goes a long way to keeping everyone else in the house, including your nanny, healthy.