10 Questions with a Nanny Agency

As working parents, finding the right childcare is one of the hardest things to do.  I myself struggled with the thought of hiring a nanny for my children. I just didn’t feel comfortable handing off my kids to a complete stranger.

But, as mompreneur with no mat leave, I had little choice. I absolutely wouldn’t leave my 2 week old at a daycare centre. In fact, I think most daycares will not take care of a child, unless he or she is at least 6 to 8 weeks old.  Hiring a nanny was the best thing that I could have done for my family…in fact, now she is part of the family.

Urban Suburban Mommy spoke to Rebecca Barlow, founder of Bella Bambino Nannies to ask the questions you know you want to know considering a nanny for hire.


1. What is the first thing you say to a family who is overwhelmed by trying to find a nanny?

The first thing I always do when speaking with a new client is to let them know that I totally understand what they are going through. I am a mother of 4 children myself ages 13 (twins) 5 and 3.  I have had to hire several nannies in the past, and still employ a full time nanny.

I live in the same world as my clientele – I am a busy working mom who struggles to balance career and family. I know how hard it is to find and hire a nanny that resonates with you, and who you feel totally comfortable with!  Most of the time I wind up being friends with my clients because we totally bond over our similarities. I also relate to my clients who are single moms as I was widowed only 8 weeks after my 3rd son’s birth and was a single mom of 3 for awhile.  That experience gave me a whole new appreciation for single parents. My clients with special needs children also feel very comfortable working with me as my 5 year old son is autistic, so I have that experience in my life as well.

2. Why should families consider using an agency vs. trying to find a nanny on their own?

Using Craigslist or an online nanny finding service is dangerous and super difficult! Its literally like searching for a needle in a haystack. The background checks are not thorough and you have no idea who you are meeting. It is so scary to me, I cannot stress enough how important it is to pay a fee to a reputable service to screen and background check candidates for you. These are your children, they are the most important things in your life and this is not the time to try to save a few dollars. When you use a reputable service, you know every nanny has been rigorously screened, background checked and referenced before you even speak to them.

3. How do you match families with the right nanny?

Having been in this industry for 15 years I have great intuition when matching families and nannies. I really get to know my clients before contacting nannies for them. Normally, after an initial conversation with a client, I will think of 2 or 3 candidates who I think will be a great fit. My staff and I then put together a comprehensive job description which we share with select candidates. Once a candidate has expressed interest, we forward their resume and highlights to the family. We arrange all interviews between the candidate and family as well as coordinate trial days and work contracts.  By the time you hire a nanny from us, you’ve trialed with the candidate and you are 100% sure this is a great fit.  (We are so confident in our matchmaking abilities, we even guarantee the placement for an entire year!)

4. What are the benefits of a nanny vs. a babysitter or daycare?

Hiring an in home nanny is far superior to daycare as it almost totally eliminates the risk of baby coming home with the “illness du jour” from daycare. It is also so much more convenient to have someone who not only loves and adores your child, but who also can help with managing your household and running errands, organizing, etc.

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5. Nannies can be costly. Why are they worth the spend?

100%!  When you find the right nanny, life is so much more manageable! You can focus your attention on work or other pursuits knowing your child/children are in amazing hands.  Its the best feeling, like gaining a new family member.

6. How do you screen nannies?

Our screening process is highly stringent.  We meet each candidate in person for 1 to 2 hours and ask a plethora of questions pertaining to the candidate’s childcare knowledge.  No one comes in to fill out an application, they complete their paper work prior to meeting us so our face to face is all about getting to know the nanny on a deeper level.

We check and verify all references as well as run a full criminal background check in every state of residence for 10+ years.  California candidates are also enrolled in Trustline, which is a fingerprint registry with the state of CA. We also verify social security number and run driving records.

7. What are the most important questions to ask a nanny?

Ask the nanny what they like about being a nanny.
Ask them how they would structure an entire day with your child.
Ask what types of age-appropriate activities they would plan for your child or children.
Ask about the Denny’s education level and whether they are CPR trained.
Ask about their last position and why they left.
Ask if you can contact their last employer for a reference.

A lot of these things will have been already asked to the candidate if you’re utilizing a good agency, but it’s always a great idea for the parents to ask these questions as well, so that you can gauge the nanny candidate’s response.

Another great thing to do is interview the nanny with your children present and see if she pays any attention to them. When I started my company I often had my newborn twins with me when I was interviewing potential nanny candidate for my clients. Any nanny who ignored my infants was immediately put in the do not call again file. Good nannies will pay attention to the children and you will see how much they love children by the way they interact with your child.


8. How do you advise negotiating salaries with a nanny?

If you’re working with a great agency you will already know what the going rate is in your area and what you should be offering, salarywise. You never want to pay below market because your nanny will always be looking out for the next best thing. The best advice would be to ask the agency you’re working with what the going rate is in your area and stick within that range. This will ensure you find and keep the best nanny possible. You will also want to be consistent with the number of hours you offer each week, as professional nannies always need their pay to be consistent.

9. Are there red flags that a family should be aware of with a potential nanny?

Trust your intuition. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t right. If the nanny is not making eye contact or seems extremely nervous, she may be hiding something. If the nanny does not pay attention to your children during the interview there’s a good chance they are simply looking for a job and not someone who is truly in this for the love of children.  Talk to your nanny agency if you have any concerns regarding the candidate. Ask for the agencies advice on how to approach things that may make you feel uncomfortable.

10. What are the benefits of a live-in vs. live-out nanny?

A live out nanny will work a set schedule for example Monday through Friday 9 AM to 5 PM. A live-in will be a bit more flexible, but still will require time off. The benefits of a live in nanny are obviously you have a little more flexibility with the hours and having someone in your home more often to help you should things come up.  Live in nannies will typically work for about $2 less per hour than what a live out nanny would work for, so there is a little bit of a financial benefit as well.

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Bella Bambino Nannies bellabambinonannies.com founder Rebecca Barlow

Bella Bambino Nannies was founded in 2002 by Rebecca Barlow. As a former nanny and working mother of 4, Rebecca understands the challenges parents face when seeking in home childcare for precious little ones. 

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