How to be a Good Nanny: 7 Basic Nanny Skills You Need to Know
Anyone can nanny. I honestly believe that. What makes a good nanny? That’s an entirely different question.
What Makes You a Good Nanny?
Nannies are loving, creative, have good time management skills, enjoy working with children, but being a good nanny takes more than someone with common sense and good work ethic.
Being a good nanny involves knowing about children’s development, knowing how to maintain a good employment relationship, what to do in emergency situations, and how to go the extra mile.
To become a good nanny, you can start with these 7 basic nanny skills.
7 Basic Must-Have Nanny Skills
Skill 1: How to Change a Diaper
Changing a diaper may seem like the most basic skill you need to apply for a nanny job, but you can always take it to the next level. Not only should you know how to literally change a diaper, but you should know how to tell if the diaper size you’re using is right, how often to change a baby’s diaper so they don’t get diaper rash, and what to do if they do get diaper rash.
Knowing more than the basic steps of changing a diaper is what will add value to you as a nanny. Especially if you’re working with first time parents, having information and recommendations ready, just in case they ask, sets apart the basic nannies from the good nannies.
Skill 2: How to Make Baby Food
Every nanny is willing to throw dino nuggets into the oven and make a pot of mac & cheese. So, one of the easiest ways to stand out as a good nanny is to go the extra mile with your meal prep.
Grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking for your nanny families adds so much value with minimal effort. Anytime I’m nannying a baby, I’ll offer to make baby food. Why? Because it literally takes one day to make months of baby food.
If you’ve never made baby food before, it’s pretty simple. Basically, you chop, boil, steam or bake, and blend. In my ‘how to make baby food’ article, I list the steps, give you some starting food ideas, and tell you my favorite storage hacks.
You can’t go wrong when you offer services (like making baby food) that save your nanny family time, money, and benefit their little one(s). So, why not offer to make it, or do a small batch as a nice surprise.
Skill 3: How to Put Your Kids to Bed
Whether you’ve only had a few babysitting jobs or have only ever been a daytime nanny, everyone’s heard a horror story of bedtime. Especially with toddlers, bedtime can be the hardest part of any day, but learning how to put your kids to bed doesn’t have to be hard.
Start with patience, and then remember two words: routine and choices.
While you may not think it does, your bedtime routine starts when the kids first wakes up. From the very beginning of their day, give your kids as many choices as you can. I’ve talked with Martha from the Chronicles of Nannya about Autonomy and the importance of giving our kids choices.
That’s because when you give kids dignified choices throughout the day, they will be less likely to put up a fight about things they don’t have control over (like bedtime). In the podcast episode with Martha we give tons of examples of what kinds of choices those could be and how they could be offered.
Once you’ve gotten in the habit of giving choices throughout the day, you can work on a bedtime routine. Draw or write out a checklist of things your kids do before bedtime every night and let them check the boxes. When they’re actively involved, they won’t be caught off guard when the time to go to sleep has finally come.
With practice and consistency, you’ll be a bedtime expert in no time.
Skill 4: How to Clean and Sanitize Toys
As nannies, our number one priority is safety. Keeping our kids safe and healthy can seem like a daunting task. So, start with the little things.
While your brain might immediately think of cleaning bottles, pacifiers, and the floor your baby crawls on, you probably didn’t think about the toys. Cleaning and sanitizing (yes, those are different) toys doesn’t take long, but helps keep your kids healthy.
I recommend having a cleaning tracker in your nanny binder if cleaning is going to be a part of your nanny contract. Once you have a plan, you can cycle your toy cleaning by type – soft, plastic, wood, with batteries.
I typically use a simple, two-part cleaner for the wood toys and dish soap for the hard plastics. Then, for the soft toys, I use whatever laundry soap I use on the baby’s clothes. For the specifics on my process, read how to clean and sanitize toys.
skill 5: How to Potty Train Your Kids
Most families that are hiring a nanny don’t consider this a requirement, but once their baby turns two, you’ll bet it’s a skill they’ll hope you have.
While most kids are ready to start potty training around age two, every kid is different. It’s important not to rush this change. If you do, it’s going to be way harder than it needs to be.
When your toddler is ready to start potty training, consider which method their parents want to use. If they don’t have a preference or ask for your input, there’s a list of the methods I’ve used over the years in my how to potty train article.
In that article, I also explain how to implement each of the potty training methods I list. A few things to keep in mind though:
- Like anything with kids, be consistent.
- Accidents will happen, don’t shame them for it.
- It’s okay to try a different method if the first one isn’t working.
- Potty training only works when they’re ready.
Skill 6: How to Use Baby Bottles
While I don’t normally recommend starting your nanny career by caring for babies, if you do, this is probably the most important skill you’ll need to learn (aside from changing diapers obviously lol). But, before we get too deep into the ‘how’, let’s talk about the ‘what’.
As a nanny, our job is to support. We aren’t there to judge or give our opinion. So, whether a family decides to breastfeed (and use breastmilk) or use formula, is their choice. There are pros and cons to both.
Now, to start using baby bottles, you need to first know the storage and reheat temperatures for safety. Like any food, bacteria can grow in breastmilk and formula, which is extra harmful since babies are so little and don’t have iron stomachs.
Before even continuing to read, you should check out this storage guide that tells you temperatures and times milk can be safe. I like to print out a copy (if the family has decided to use breastmilk) and hang it on the fridge. Sharing important information like this adds value to you as a nanny and it’s a good reminder for you too.
Make sure to clean baby bottles immediately after using them. Most baby bottles can go into the dishwasher with this basket or can be hand washed and dried. I use this brush and this rack. I have step-by-step pictures on how to thoroughly clean baby bottles if you have never used them before.
Skill 7: How to do Baby Laundry
It’s pretty common to do baby laundry, especially when there’s only one or two kids. And, as we all know, babies ooze fluids from everywhere, all of the time. Knowing how to get stains out of baby clothes is a must.
Because babies have sensitive skin, I recommend using a “baby laundry detergent” or making your own. I used to make my own laundry soap (even to use for myself) because I started using it during my international travels and it’s way cheaper than normal liquid detergent. The recipe that I use is in my ‘how to do baby laundry’ article.
I typically use baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to get those gross stains out of my babies’ white onesies. Similar to many nannies and moms, I’ve also used OxiClean Stain Remover and Dreft Stain Remover to get out some nasty stains.
Pitching in with other household tasks like offering to change everyone’s bed linens or include the parents’ laundry will set you above average nannies.
Nanny Tips to be The Best Nanny You Can be
Whether you’re just starting or have been taking care of kids your whole life, there’s always more to learn. That’s really what makes a great nanny, the willingness to keep learning and improving. What are some of the lessons you’ve learned as a nanny? Comment below.
Having the skills above is a great place to start. The more you learn, the more you should share. Sharing important information that we learn (especially if it’s safety related) adds a level of value to our nanny careers that can become unmatched.
Your goal as a nanny should be to maintain safety and exude support. The intimacy of being a nanny exposes us to a lot of sensitive information and personal choices of our nanny family. Respect those choices and show your support through your words and actions.
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