How To Hire A Nanny

13 min read

Executive Summary

Finding the right nanny can be overwhelming, so I’ve broken it down into 11 steps based on my own experience to help you navigate the process. Click each step to skip to that section.

Investment Cost: ~$72,800/year 
Time Reclaimed: 2,080 hours
Worth it? If you make more than $35/hr, yes!
*based on a $35/hour wage for a nanny working 40 hours/week in California

Our nanny started working with us when our son was six weeks old, and has been with us ever since. Hiring her was one of the best decisions we ever made. 

She’s nurtured our kids, helped manage our household, and freed up time for self-care and date nights. It was a huge financial commitment for us to make, but we both felt it was worth the investment in our children’s development, our marriage, and the health of our household in general. 

But the process of finding the right nanny can be really overwhelming! I personally used a nanny agency, since they help with everything from writing the ad to conducting background checks and drafting a contract. The time saved and expertise gained from working with them is invaluable, and I happily endorse Seaside Staffing Company. (We get zero kickback, but for Peacock Parents only they are offering $1,000 off the placement fee, which is unheard of in the industry.)

But if you do want to go about it on your own, I’ve put together this step-by-step guide on how to hire a nanny…

Step 1: Identify What You’re Looking for

Before you start writing your ad or interviewing, it’s a good idea to take some time to figure out exactly what you’re looking for. This will help you tailor your ad and your interview questions to ensure you find the right candidate for your household and needs. 

I recommend identifying the top 3-5 qualities and skills of a future caregiver that are most important to you and rank them. For example, I wanted a young, but experienced woman who spoke English as a first language, had natural problem-solving skills, and was willing to travel with us. (Check out my post on the Top 6 Qualities Of A Great Nanny to learn more about what I was looking for.) 

If you’re having trouble defining your needs, here are some questions to think about: 

  • What kind of relationship do you want with your nanny? Do you want them to be part of the family or do you see it as strictly a business relationship (ie: you only talk about the kids)? Or maybe somewhere in the middle?
  • Do you want them to have input and advise you, or stay quiet and do what you want when it comes to raising your kids?
  • Beyond childcare, do you want them to take on additional household tasks, like basic meal prep?
  • How much previous experience do you want them to have had? 
  • What kind of educational background are you looking for? 
  • Do you plan to have them travel with you?
  • Do you need them to be able to drive your kids around? 
  • What kind of demeanor are you looking for? I.e.) Do you want someone more extroverted or introverted? 
how to hire a nanny

Step 2: Define Your Budget & Schedule

Next, you need to figure out how often you want your nanny with you, whether that’s on a part-time or full-time basis. If you and your partner are working full-time, the schedule could be quite clear: you need a nanny at least 40 hours a week.  

If you’re able to, I recommend hiring two nannies who each work about 30 hours a week. This way, in addition to support while you’re at work, you have extra help in the mornings and evenings. When you come home, you can go straight to your kids and be present while you have the nanny tackle any household to-dos you might have on your list. 

If two nannies isn’t feasible, then I HIGHLY suggest scheduling your nanny for a minimum of one-morning wakeup a week (have them start at 6 am) and one nighttime bath/bed routine to give yourself that break (have them end at 6 pm). 

If you don’t have a current work commitment, don’t underestimate the time you need away from the children whether that be a therapist or doctor’s appointment, lunch with friends, workouts, dates with your partner, and other life management appointments that keep you sane and healthy. 

After you have an idea of the schedule you want, look up the average salary in your area. Care.com has a useful tool for this. If you want your nanny to have extra skills or take on additional responsibilities, like running errands, household tasks, and driving, be prepared to offer slightly more per hour.  Other factors like the number of kids you have and how many years of experience the nanny has can also increase the rate. 

Step 3: Write & Post Your Ad

sample nanny ad

Next, write up what you’re looking for. Be sure to include the 3-5 qualities you’ve identified and be specific about the hours and when you want them to start. Include the number of children you have and their ages, and a little bit about your family. If you have a dog or other pet make sure to mention that in the ad too. Some people are allergic or have other reasons for not wanting to work in a house with a pet so it’s better to be upfront about this early on. Finally, request a minimum of three reference letters. You can view some sample job postings, here

Post your job ad at local colleges, libraries, and coffee shops, as well as on Nextdoor, Care.com, SitterCity, and other nanny sites. And spread the word amongst your friends. You never know who someone might know and referrals are often the best way to meet someone! 

how to hire a nanny

Step 4: Review Applications

Read through the resumes you receive and also look each person up on LinkedIn to see if the profiles match. Directly compare the information — dates, schooling, work history, and gender — to the list you made in step one. You’ll need to put on your detective hat and look for any dates or work history that don’t match up. 

I also encourage you to look at the gaps in their resume. For example, did they leave a position after only 4 months, or try something completely different from nannying for a year?  Do your best to identify these gaps and jot down at least one or two unique questions for each applicant, such as what made them leave a job or why they went back to nannying after taking a hiatus. 

For any gaps or short periods of employment, you’re basically trying to figure out if it was due to a bad relationship with their prior employer, and if so, whether the issue was because of a bad employer or an insubordinate employee.

For example, if a candidate claims that they were let go because of cost-cutting measures or because the children aged out of needing a nanny, then you could ask, if this family had another baby, would you work for them again? If the answer is no, ask exactly why not. 

Step 5: Conduct Initial Phone Screening Interviews

Once you’ve narrowed down the list to 10-15 people, start with a phone or FaceTime interview to weed through applicants. For some sample questions, check out my post on How To Interview A Nanny.

Step 6: Contact references

Of the 10-15 initial candidates, try to narrow it down to 5-7, and request to contact their references by phone. Then call each of those references. This is a critical step that most people skip. Most people assume no one would list a reference who would say anything bad about them, plus a previous employer will not divulge disparaging information about the potential employee in fear of being held liable. But a lot of people don’t know you can legally ask a reference if they would rehire this person. If they say no, then that’s a big red flag. 

You can also use this call to fact-check some of the things you’ve been told. For example, if the nanny says she took on additional responsibilities like meal prep or driving the kids around, you can ask the references about this to see how often this was the case and what it entailed. 

Talking to references can also be a good way to gauge if a nanny has certain skills you’re looking for. For example, if critical thinking skills are important to you, you can ask their references questions about this quality: is she/he good at thinking on their feet? Were they willing to take on additional duties? Do you trust them to make in-the-moment decisions? I’m planning to have them do X. Do you think they can handle that? 

Lastly, you might get such a glowing recommendation for one of your potential candidates that it tips the scale between two equally wonderful applicants. 

family interviewing a nanny, how to hire a nanny

Step 7: Interview Your Top 3 Candidates In Person

Once you’ve narrowed down the list to your top 3 applicants, it’s time for the in-person interview process. It’s important to meet your potential nanny in person and trust your gut instinct about what kind of vibe you get from them. 

At this point, you’ve already done all the administrative work to evaluate a future caregiver by reviewing their resume, contacting references, and ensuring that they passed your initial round of questions. So think of the in-person interview as a meeting that’s all about your needs. The goal is to evaluate your comfort around this person. For a detailed breakdown of the in-person interview process, including sample questions to ask, check out my post on How To Interview A Nanny.

Step 8: Background Check 

After you’ve selected your top candidate, be sure to perform a background check to find out if they are listed in the child abuse, neglect, or sex offender registries or have any criminal or federal offenses on their record. This may feel like an extreme step after meeting what I assume is a wonderful person, but once again this is a necessary step and one that people skip all too often because relying solely on intuition is easier than dealing with more “paperwork.” 

Checkr is a great site for background checks. PFC also specializes in background checks for nannies and other household staff. 

In California, TrustLine is a database of nannies and babysitters who have passed a comprehensive background screening by the state. If the nanny you’re interested in hiring is already part of the database you can easily look them up. If not, you can ask them to be registered. 

Step 9: Consider A Trial Period 

Before drafting a contract, I highly suggest establishing a trial period for two to three days. You can legally pay cash or write a check for services rendered for under $600 without having to create an Employer Identification Number or file additional tax paperwork. This is also an opportunity to really make sure it’s the right fit. 

how to hire a nanny

Step 10: Write Up A Contract & Set Up Taxes 

Some advice on finances: do not be tempted to pay your nanny under the table in cash no matter how good of a relationship and understanding you think you have with them. The fact is that they’re an employee, and you need to treat the relationship that way in every way. 

If you choose to pay cash only, you also run the risk of being audited down the road when your nanny files for unemployment and doesn’t have any pay stubs to prove that they were an employee. Don’t skimp and try to save a few bucks when it comes to the person who will be caring for your child every day. By paying them as a legitimate employee and worker you are also subconsciously building their confidence and making them more accountable for their actions. 

I recommend entering into a contract and having clear expectations for the role and established rules for paid time off, holidays, and hours. Click here to view and download a sample contract that I created. 

One more reminder is that you will also need to set up an employer identification number (EIN), and ensure you’re deducting the required amount for social security, Medicare, and federal and state income taxes from each paycheck and paying it to the IRS and state. Care and Sittercity both have great guides with more information on this. It can be complicated, so I recommend hiring a payroll service, like GTM Payroll, to take care of this for you (mention Peacock Parent for special pricing). 

how to hire a nanny

Step 11: Relax!

You’ve just gone through 10 intense steps and countless hours to find the right nanny for your household. You’ve also just taken an important step to reclaim some of your time as a parent.

If it’s a weird adjustment at first I recommend installing a Ring camera in the baby’s room and living room or main space where the nanny will be playing with your baby during the day.  (Note: Some states have laws that require you to disclose if you’re using a camera and prohibit putting one in certain private spaces, like bathrooms.)

Having a Ring camera will give you such joy and sincere relief because you can sneak a peek at the two of them having a ball while you are working hard or re-energizing. 


For more tips on taking control of your time in parenthood, download our free guide: How to Run Your Home like a Business (99 Tasks You Can Delegate Today). And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive our latest articles in your inbox. 

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