Angélica V. Hernández, Ph.D.
5 min readJan 25, 2022


Babysitter or Nanny

Photo by Angelica V. Hernandez

Every parent wants the best for their children, so whether you are hiring a nanny or babysitter, be clear on what you are looking you are looking for in a caregiver. The terminology and responsibilities of each nanny or babysitter are not written in stone. Let’s not get caught up in semantics.

Who are you looking for?

Are you looking for a mature woman, someone who may be a parent herself? Do you want a person that has a natural ease with children a mother or grandmother-like energy? What about a young high school or college age woman to run around with your kids, teach them the latest dance moves and be up for the spontaneity of kids? What about a “Manny,” this young man might change the dynamic a bit. Maybe you need someone to take the kids to baseball, swing a racket with them or play a mean game of dinosaur in the front line. These are the things you want to think about. Who do I want my child to be with each day?

Cost should NOT dictate your decision

It could be a costly mistake if you are basing your search solely on expense. Paying someone through an agency does not guarantee a good fit. The same is true for a teenage babysitter, he/she might be the right fit based on convenience, they live nearby, energy, and availability.

Most critical element

How does the caregiver engage with your child? Granted you cannot judge it all on one ½ hour interview and forced “playtime.” But you can gather a great deal of information during the encounter.

Be careful what you ask for. If you are looking for a replica of yourself as a multitasker, housecleaner, laundress, and chef, you may have to compromise a bit. You don’t want a person who feels pressured to cook, clean, AND take care of the child. Unless they are great at multitasking, I would reconsider. If there is too much to do, something will have to give, guess who that might be? You got it; the child is potentially not going to get the needed attention. The caregiver’s number one responsibility should be to take care of your child. Hire extra help if needed for housekeeping.

If you go through an agency, you are paying the agency fees to vet the caregiver, which is a great help, but that does not guarantee a good fit for you or your family. Remember to go with your gut.

Word of mouth is a great way to get someone to care for your children. Having someone recommend a caregiver may mean that they have experience with that person and may provide great insight. You might get some perspective on their personality, strengths, weaknesses as a caregiver, and perhaps a deeper understanding of who they are and what their philosophy is about children.

I was a nanny and a babysitter

As a former nanny and babysitter, the long and the short of it is that there must be chemistry. You want chemistry between the caregiver and the parents, the caregiver and the kids and you want the caregiver to be connected to your family. Sounds intimate? It is and should be, this person is caring for your child.

Pay a fair wage

Here in Los Angeles, there is a huge discrepancy between how much a person makes based on what neighborhood you are in. On the west side of Los Angeles, the going rate is about $15-$18 an hour.

I personally believe that if you are higher a kid from around the block to watch your child $10 is a fair amount. I find it extremely unfair to pay a teenage kid more than you would pay a middle-aged woman.

It is insulting in my book if you pay a teenage kid the same amount than a middle-aged woman, period.

Skills needed to work in childcare

· Communication skills

· Interest in children and their welfare

· Effective discipline strategy- BE authoritative

· Physical and psychological punishment is Forbidden

· Knowledge of child development

· Respect child and their body

· Encourage

· Support peer relationships

· Provide healthful foods

· Stay healthy and be an example to the child

· Ditch the sarcasm

Some extremely important skills include:

· First aid certification

· Experience with Child Development and/or teaching

· Water-safety

· Professional certification

Bottom Line

Whether you call your childcare provider a nanny, manny, or a babysitter you just want to be certain your child or children are in good hands. Go with your gut first and recommendations and other characteristic last. It is my experience both as a nanny and babysitter that it was my responsibility to take care of all things related to the child. Yes, that included cleaning up after the child, creating a safe and clean space for them to play. If the stroller was dirty, the diaper bag littered with cereal and petrified raisins, I would simply take care of it.

As a parent

As a mom who has a nanny and babysitters, I expect them to take up where I left off. The relationship in my experience must be one of mutual trust and respect. I want them to love and guide my child when I am not there to do it myself. I believe this person is part of a caregiving team. My children have a deep bond with the women we have invited into our house and our lives, they love and anticipate seeing them, because they have something special, they get from the relationship. This is a great comfort to me.

The man in our life

As 2moms2kids we felt that we wanted to have a man in our children’s life. We wanted a strong man that we trusted implicitly to be a role model for our kids, one that would show up for our kids and family. We asked our friend Bryan when the children were 1 and 2 years old if he would come over to visit and play with the kids for an hour or two. Eight years and multiple school events later, hours and hours of bike rides, hikes, swimming and skating and biking lessons, he is our weekly miracle and has become an integral part of our family.

I loved Mrs. Doubtfire, the scenes that revolve around the hiring process of a nanny are not only hilarious but telling. Mrs. Doubtfire was by far the best pick; she was not only firm but loveable. If you can replicate her, you have yourself a winner.

Good luck and go with your gut!


Top Nanny Movies:

Mary Poppins 1964

The sound of music 1965

Mrs. Doubtfire 1993

The Governess 1998

Uptown Girls 2003

Nanny McPhee 2005

The Pacifier 2005

Nanny Diaries 2007



Angélica V. Hernández, Ph.D.

Angelica Hernandez, Ph.D. @UCLA, Sexual Trauma Expert, Writer, Speaker for RAINN @RAINN01 and Mamasita of 2.