How To Find The Perfect At-Home Childcare

By Elise Nelson on May 11, 2021

Choosing an at-home childcare provider is a major decision for parents. In the past, you may have considered enrolling your children in a proper daycare center, but the pandemic may have left you unsure of or unable to send your kids to group settings. This has created an even bigger childcare obstacle: finding care for your own home. You’ll need to find someone that you can trust with not only your child, but also your home. The at-home childcare hiring process can be lengthy, and many first-time parents aren’t quite sure where to start. Follow these steps to ensure that you find a perfect match for your family. 

father and son playing with toy blocks

Photo by Keira Burton from Pexels

Assess your family’s needs

Every child is different, which means that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to care. To find the right person, you’ll need to assess your family’s needs, starting with the type of care provider. If you’re looking for part-time childcare when you’ll be away from home for a few hours, a babysitter is the way to go. However, if you’re in need of more permanent daily care, a nanny or au pair may be the way to go. You may want to think about whether or not you like the caregiver to live in your home with your family.

You should consider some top qualities and skills that you’ll need to see in the care provider, too. For example, you may want a nanny with an educational background to help your child in difficult school subjects. Creating a list of candidate requirements in order of importance will help you narrow down your pool of at-home childcare providers.

Ask for recommendations from fellow parents

Word of mouth is an excellent way to find reliable childcare candidates in the area. You can ask fellow parents with similar family needs if they know of anyone or if they know of an agency to find a nanny. Of course, you don’t want to poach another family’s current childcare provider, but it can’t hurt to ask for recommendations. You can also check out some nanny sites like and check out reviews before you interview someone.

Verify references from candidates

When we apply for jobs, potential employers sometimes ask for references – but they don’t always use them. In childcare, references are especially important in gauging a candidate’s credibility, so you should always take advantage of that contact information. Ask your childcare provider candidates for two to three professional references, preferably from previous families. Give the references a quick phone call to verify that the caregiver did well and be sure to address any concerns you may have. Think of it as a mini-interview about the candidate and their work ethic. 

Look for nannies or babysitters with certifications

Selecting childcare candidates with certifications can add an extra sense of comfort to the process. One major certification to look out for is CPR and First Aid training. You want a childcare provider who knows how to handle certain emergencies, especially if your child has any medical conditions in need of attention. As Local Babysitter noted, nannies or babysitters with water safety training are also a huge plus for families with swimming pools or beaches nearby. Infant care, positive discipline training, and general nanny certification programs are also very beneficial to the childcare search.

woman carrying a baby

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Have a trial period with feedback from everyone involved

When you find your top choice for a childcare provider, it’s highly recommended that you host a trial period – perhaps a week or two, depending on your hours. Make sure that the nanny or babysitter has all the information they need to succeed in the role, including a house tour, emergency contact information, parent contact information, routines, etc. Then, give them some time to work with your kids and see if the nanny or babysitter clicks well with them. You may want to be present on some days and absent on others. This way, you can evaluate them on the job and learn how the job goes when you’re not home.

At the end of the trial period, be sure to discuss the experience in-depth with not only the candidate but also your kids – this is a great way to keep the kids involved in the hiring process and to ensure that their opinions are heard. Sometimes, a care provider may not fit your kids as well as you thought, and that’s okay! The trial period is a way to test the waters before committing to the job.

Stay in the loop

The process doesn’t necessarily stop once you hire a care provider. As the parent, it’s important to do semi-frequent check-ins with the nanny or babysitter as well as your kids to make sure that things are going well. After all, the care provider is sometimes there when you aren’t, so you won’t always be able to see how it’s going for yourself. It’s important to establish communication with your children so that they feel comfortable being honest about their experience with the care provider.

At the end of the day, the most important part of your at-home care search is trusting your gut. You’ll know in your gut that someone is the right caregiver, and it’s important to listen to your instincts if something doesn’t seem right or if the candidate you thought you loved doesn’t turn out to be the best fit for your family. With some careful consideration, you can find the perfect at-home childcare.  

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