A nanny’s career path ranges from parent’s helper to sitter to specialist and professional nanny. It is important for parents to understand the differences in job titles, duties, and skills so they can determine the right type of child care for their family.
Align Your Needs to Child Care Job Titles
Matching the family needs to child care job titles and skills is essential to finding the best fit for your family and situation. Families cannot realistically hire Nanny Poppin at a sitter rate, so it is important to understand the different types of sitters, nannies, and family assistants.
Parents’ helpers are considered sitters-in-training, as they help care for children under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian. Often too young or inexperienced to care for children independently, parents’ helpers play with children, feed babies or make easy lunches, and perform light housework. An entry-level position in child care, parents’ helpers should have CPR and First Aid training but may not have experience working with children.
Sitters provide for the safety of children for several hours, often with the family members nearby and available by phone. Working in the evening or over the weekend, sitters monitor or participate in playtime, offer parent-approved snacks, and help children get ready for bed. If asked, sitters may do light housekeeping, such as washing the dishes associated with the snack or emptying the diaper bin. Sitters should have CPR and First Aid certification and it is recommended they complete some child care training. For those less than 16 years old, the American Red Cross offers an online class and the local YMCA’s may host a sitter training day.
Nanny (Part or Full Time)
Nannies have contracted, consistent work for at least 3 months but usually a year or more and are responsible for a child or multiple children throughout the workday while family members are at their places of employment. Care includes feeding, bathing, and playtime for the children and nannies manage the children’s daily schedules which are developed in conjunction with the parents. Nannies may also provide transportation to and from school, clubs, sports practices, playdates, and other activities. Nannies work autonomously and may have full responsibility to care for the children when families are out of town.
All nannies, whether part or full time, should have CPR and First Aid certification and invest in child care training that teaches age-appropriate growth, development, and activities from newborn through primary years. Nutrition, fitness, health, art, music, and communication courses provide practical skills to help nannies excel as in-home child care providers.
Specialty Nanny – Newborn and Infant Care Professional & eLearning Facilitators
Specialty Nannies have varying qualifications that may include early childhood education, special needs education, or psychology with child care experience as a nanny, in daycares, teaching, or in child advocacy positions. Specialist nannies may also be travel nannies or have training in facilitating eLearning or the educational philosophies of Montessori, RIE, or Waldorf. Some specialty nannies help children learn a second language or musical instrument.
Newborn and Infant Care Professionals are non-medical infant caregivers who care for infants from birth to 1 year. Newborn and Infant Care Professionals support new parents and help them gain confidence as they offer hands-on care to establish feeding schedules, develop a routine, and ensure healthy sleep habits. Newborn and Infant Care Professionals typically provide overnight care and may offer around-the-clock or daytime support care as well.
eLearning Facilitators primarily support child development and academics by following a provided curriculum from the local public school district or a private program provided by the parents. eLearning Facilitators provide child care in the form of snacks, meals and playtime. eLearning Facilitators often specialize with children ages five- to ten-years-old.
Specialist nannies generally have diverse work experiences as a nanny, in daycares, teaching, or child advocacy. Specialist nannies are passionate about their work and are often leaders in the nanny industry. Many specialist nannies work for high-profile and/or high net worth families and are extremely desirable within the nanny market.
Professional nannies manage all schedules, logistics, and needs for the entire family. Daryl Camarillo describes the role of a professional nanny: “Families think of [professional] nannies as in-home professionals who do everything to care, nurture, and develop the children. These include household duties related to child care and the upkeep of the home such as washing bottles, meal preparation for the children, emptying diaper bins, and the child’s laundry. Families are seeking nannies to take the child to activities and invest in their development and growth. They view the nanny as part of the child care team.” Professional nannies can have different types of specialization based on training and experiences that elevate their skills as family assistants, early childhood educators, or special needs child care providers.
Family Assistants and Household Managers
Family assistants (sometimes referred to as household managers or nanny managers) perform child care duties along with additional responsibilities such as managing a weekly schedule, scheduling and attending children’s doctor appointments, picking up the family dry cleaning, planning and hosting birthday parties, household organization, shopping, pet care, meal planning, and preparing meals for the entire family. Family assistants are often committed to the role as their primary employment and have the maturity to work unsupervised while remaining responsible for several children and an allocated budget. Family assistants have a combination of child care experience, training, and organizational skills. Family Assistants often have between 2 to 5 years of in-home child care experience with additional experience managing their own household or working in the service industry as a personal chef, pet sitter, or cleaning service provider. Most have completed child care and household management programs.
Many people confuse Family Assistants and Household Managers. Household Managers direct and manage other domestic workers and contractors in the home where they are employed. Household Managers have a working knowledge of human resources, management of service contractors and personnel, and technical experience to perform some maintenance or other service tasks including administrative, appliance cleaning, clothing repair, and formal dining. The Household Manager often hires and manages all domestic staff including the nanny, cleaning staff, and cook or personal chef, and pet-sitter. An Estate Manager is the top-level executive position in a large household or complex of properties that employ a wide array of staff. They are responsible for working directly with the owner to plan and execute the plan to manage the property and other employees.