Tips for Nannies and Babysitters

Here are some handy tips to help you enjoy your babysitting job!

How to prepare for a babysitting or nanny interview

  • Wear smart casual clothes for your interview. Choose clothes that you would wear when working with children to show that you are prepared for this kind of work.
  • Print up a short resume including the details of referee names and phone numbers to share with the parents.
  • Bring along your Working With Children Check and any other credentials to show the parents when you arrive.
  • Be prepared to answer and ask questions about the children and the role. Here are some helpful interview tips.

What to wear for a babysitting or nanny job

  • Wear neat casual clothing for your babysitting job.
  • Ensure you are comfortable and will be able to move around easily. Make sure your outfit allows you to do things like sit on the floor with a toddler, carry a baby around, and play games with the kids.
  • Wear comfortable shoes if you anticipate walking and going to the park with the children.
  • Prepare for the weather if you are babysitting during the day and might be outdoors. E.g., bring a hat or a jacket.
  • If you are babysitting in the evening be sure to bring warm clothes if the temperature drops.

How to get ready for a babysitting job

  • One day beforehand make a courtesy call, send a text or email to confirm the details of the booking, the time and address.
  • Check the map to plan the amount of time it will take for you to get there.
  • Ask about parking if you are driving there.
  • If you are driving the children to activities, ask about the addresses and times the children need to be there.
  • Ask if there’s any important information to know about the children’s dietary needs, medical issues, health, wellbeing or other relevant details.
  • Before your shift make sure you are well-rested and well-fed so you'll have lots of energy for your babysitting or nanny role!

What to bring to your babysitting or nanny shift

  • Bring a small surprise for the child. It doesn't need to be expensive. Just something special to act as an ice-breaker (e.g., a sticker, a print-out from a kids' website).
  • Bring your own food or snacks.
  • Remember to bring any extra clothing you may need for the day or evening.
  • If you anticipate hours of quiet time (e.g., a baby sleeping) remember to bring along some things to do. E.g., laptop, some study, a magazine or book.

What to do when you arrive at your babysitting job

  • Arrive a few minutes early.
  • When you arrive, engage with the child proactively - e.g., get down on their level to say hi and ask them to show you some favourite toys.
  • Ask the parents about the usual routine. e.g., dinner time, bathtime, bed time.
  • Check that you have the parents’ phone numbers and emergency contacts if needed.
  • Confirm that you have any relevant information about the house. E.g., heating or cooling systems, the door key, a spare torch etc.

How to handle separation anxiety when babysitting

  • Ask the parents how their child usually copes with separation and any tips they have if their child is unsettled. E.g, a comfort toy, a favourite iPad game or tv show to watch.
  • If needed, spend some time overlapping with the parents, so the child can build trust with you.
  • Engage the child in an activity before the parents leave.
  • When the parents leave, ensure they say good-bye briefly and that they’ll be back later.
  • Stay calm, acknowledge the child’s feelings, then move onto an activity. “I know you feel sad,, let’s go find your favourite toy. Can you show me where it is?”
  • Focus on an activity together. Create a calm, positive environment. This will reassure the child that they are safe and will enjoy the time with you too.
  • Here’s a good source for more information and tips.

What to do while babysitting

  • Have fun being a babysitter or nanny. Play! Get involved in the children's games. They will love it.
  • Brush up on children's favourite songs, videos and pop stars so you can engage with the children. Be the favourite babysitter! :)
  • Follow the children’s lead. Play and talk about their interests.
  • Plan to initiate a few simple games or activities e.g., build a blanket fort, play a card game, read books.
  • Keep calm at all times. Use the power of distraction to help switch around a situation.

How to put children to bed when babysitting

  • Find out what time the children usually go to bed and be guided by this.
  • Ask the parents about the bedtime routine. E.g., brushing teeth before bed, reading stories before bed, turn on or off any bedroom or hallway lights, find any comfort toys or blankets.
  • Check if there are any ‘settling’ strategies recommended by the parents if the children can’t fall asleep.
  • Be patient, kind and flexible - it may take a little longer for children to settle to sleep for a new babysitter.

What to do after the children are in bed

  • Check the children while they are asleep during the evening to make sure they are safely tucked in bed (unless the parents ask you not to do so.)
  • Write brief notes about the events of the evening (e.g. "7pm drank milk, played quiet games, read picture books, 7:30pm bedtime with no fuss. Has been sleeping soundly.").
  • Respect the parents' privacy. Don't enter areas of the home unless required.
  • If you anticipate you’ll have spare time, ask the parents if there’s anything else you can help with during the down time. E.g., fold some washing.
  • Leave the house as tidy as you found it. Wash out your coffee cup, tidy up the kids' toys or books that may have been left out. Parents will be so grateful for your help!

We hope these tips help set you up for success with your babysitting and nanny jobs!