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What to Look For In a Nanny

A nanny does more than simply baby-sit your little one. She'll spend full days shaping your child's world, teaching and caring for him, so not just anyone will do. The process of hiring a nanny might feel daunting, especially if it's your first time. Asking the right questions, listening carefully to her answers and trusting your gut will lead you to the best candidate.

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Can She Handle the Load

The right nanny should have a proven record of punctuality and a strong work ethic. Her past employers can offer insight on this, but it also pays to ask any prospective nanny to describe her work philosophy. Ask what her best and worst qualities are as a child-care worker. If she's never nannied, ask what qualities make her suitable for a nanny job. Ideally, she'll explain what makes her a dependable person. Specifically, inquire about her duties in previous jobs to find out how much responsibility she's shouldered in the past.

She Checks Out

Any nanny you consider should be willing to submit to safety checks. If she's registered with a nanny agency, the company can give you copies of her background check results. If not, consult your state's child and family services department for information on how to get a background check on her, or hire an independent company to run one. Look for the nanny's past employment and address history to match what she's told you and for any criminal history. If she'll drive your children, ask her to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to request her driving records.

Safety First

You want to be sure the nanny can keep her cool and keep your kids safe in an emergency. Anyone you hire should have first aid and CPR training, or be willing to complete them before beginning work. Ask her if she's been in emergency situations before and how she's handled them, suggests violence prevention and safety expert Gavin de Becker to FamilyEducation.com. You can also pose theoretical situations that could arise and ask what she'd do.

A Family Fit

Ask her to describe her ideal working relationship to see if your goals match. The right nanny must be willing to work with your family's needs. If you need one to cook basic meals while a child sleeps, or take on occasional weekend evening hours, you have to find a nanny who will agree to that. If you're breastfeeding, HealthyChildren.org suggests asking a caregiver if she's comfortable working with you to maintain your breastfeeding routine. She should be willing and able to safely handle your breast milk.

RELATED: Signs of a Good Nanny

Making a Connection

Schedule interviews when your child's awake and ask the candidate to care for the child for a few minutes. Watch for her to engage in age-appropriate play and show affection for your child. The right caretaker should respect a child's individuality, says ZerotoThree.org, and be able to follow your lead too. Ask her if she's willing to be flexible with her daily schedule -- if your little one needs some extra snuggle time or isn't hungry for lunch until 2 p.m., your nanny should be able to adjust and not insist on following a strict schedule.

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