New moms who work outside of the home will likely find that they need to start looking into hiring a nanny while they're still on maternity leave. There are several advantages to choosing a nanny over daycare, but the idea of hiring a nanny may also bring with it a great deal of anxiety and concern. Hiring a nanny does not need to be traumatic, however, and in fact can mean expanding one's family to include a loving caregiver for a new baby.
One of the most common fears a new mother is likely to have about a nanny is that this person they have brought into their home will "steal" or "harm" the baby in some way. While there have been notable high-profile cases of problematic caregivers in the past, the truth is that the overwhelming majority of nannies are kind, caring people who will treat their charges as if they were their own children.
Another fear is that the children will grow more attached to the nanny than to the mother herself. While it is true that a nanny may spend more time with the child than the mother, she will never take the mother's place. In fact, it is a sign of a good nanny if the children come to care for her greatly -- the alternative, a nanny that the children do not like at all, is hardly ideal.
The best way to abate your fears is to make sure that all nannies are carefully screened throughout the hiring process. Whether you are going through a nanny agency, which will handle the screening for you, or you are investigating nannies on her own, this step is critical. Check references carefully. In most cases, a nanny's reference will be another mom, which may make you feel more comfortable asking questions.
When hiring a nanny for a newborn, look for a candidate that has worked with newborns or infants in the past. Nannies with experience with older children may be acceptable candidates, but hiring a nanny with more specific experience with a baby can be helpful. Nannies with newborn experience also are more likely to have the endless calm and patience that is required to get through many hours with a baby.
Once the pool of nannies has been narrowed down to a select few candidates, both parents should interview each nanny more than once. If possible, bring the baby to at least one interview to see how the nanny interacts with him or her.
Finally, before hiring any nanny, you should make sure she has the proper legal documentation as required by Federal I-9 guidelines. You can also request that any nannies you are considering provide documentation of a negative TB test (or take a test if she hasn't done so already) as well as any other medical tests or immunizations recommended by your family's doctor.