From house­keeper to child­min­der

When a new baby comes into a fam­ily, the cur­rent helper of­ten takes on a new role, that of nanny. It’s im­por­tant that she is prop­erly trained to en­sure she is com­pe­tent in her new job, writes Kim Novick

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -

BOTH FOR PAR­ENTS who will soon re­turn to work af­ter the birth of a baby and those who stay at home, it’s vi­tal that your house­keeper is equipped to man­age the needs of a small baby.

Just as you need to equip your­self, so too should your house­keeper have the skills and abil­ity needed to care for a child. This means she should be able to do the ba­sic rou­tine stuff, from chang­ing nap­pies and ster­il­is­ing bot­tles, to bathing, dress­ing and putting your baby down for a nap. She also needs to know first aid and CPR pro­ce­dures, how to cook baby foods and un­der­stand their nutri­tional value. Lastly, your baby’s nanny needs to have the skills to emo­tion­ally and phys­i­cally stim­u­late your lit­tle one.


Train­ing your cur­rent house­keeper has the ad­van­tage in that this is pre­sum­ably some­one with whom you al­ready have a re­la­tion­ship. How­ever, you need to dis­cuss her new role be­fore­hand, as it will be quite dif­fer­ent, par­tic­u­larly if this is a first baby in the house.

“The ad­van­tages of train­ing your house­keeper to help take care of your baby means your child can get one-onone care, in her home en­vi­ron­ment, by a fa­mil­iar per­son who has the knowhow and skills to care for your child in the best man­ner pos­si­ble,” says Ruth Klop­pers, owner of Help at Home, a com­pany that spe­cialises in the train­ing of do­mes­tic staff.

Be­fore you start, dis­cuss the fol­low­ing is­sues with your helper:

Is she will­ing to take on the more re­spon­si­ble role of car­ing for your baby?

Is she in­ter­ested in do­ing var­i­ous cour­ses that will help grow her abil­i­ties?

How will her hours and salary change? You need to be in agree­ment on this.


Don’t as­sume your house­keeper au­to­mat­i­cally wants to be­come a child­min­der. This is some­thing you need to as­sess and dis­cuss in equal mea­sures.

“No mat­ter how much you love and trust your house­keeper, ask your­self, ‘Will she be good with chil­dren?’ Does she want to be a child­min­der be­cause she needs the job or be­cause she gen­uinely likes chil­dren?” says Ruth.

She says in this case the re­al­ity is that the first pri­or­ity is now the baby, not the house­work. Ruth says em­ploy­ers also need to change their ex­pec­ta­tions.

“The house may not be im­mac­u­late if your house­keeper is look­ing af­ter your child. Al­though she may be able to do ba­sic clean­ing and tidy­ing in the home, of­ten the larger, time-con­sum­ing tasks, such as iron­ing and wash­ing win­dows, will not be done. The em­ployer and em­ployee both need to un­der­stand the tasks in­volved and man­age the work­load ef­fec­tively, with­out com­pro­mis­ing on the well-be­ing of the child be­ing cared

for,” she ex­plains.


From the time your baby ar­rives home, en­cour­age your house­keeper to spend time with you and her. She needs to un­der­stand your needs and how you like things done.

“Show her how to change the nappy, what creams to use and how and when you like the nappy changed (for ex­am­ple, when the baby wakes up or mid­way through feeds). Once she has watched you a few times, let her change a nappy with you present so that you can guide her through the process,” says Kirsten Mcin­tosh of Sugar & Spice Do­mes­tic Train­ing in Cape Town.

Once you are con­fi­dent your house­keeper has mas­tered the ba­sics and is do­ing things in a man­ner with which you are com­fort­able, spend time with her plan­ning the daily rou­tine, fac­tor­ing time for house­work, baby feed­ing, sleep and play time.

“It is im­por­tant that you not only es­tab­lish the rou­tine, but that you ex­plain the im­por­tance of the rou­tine for the child, ac­knowl­edg­ing that this rou­tine will give the child se­cu­rity and al­low your nanny time to get through her house­work,” ex­plains Kirsten. YB

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