July 5, 2020


Nannies work in private homes caring for their employer’s children. They are responsible for all aspects of childcare. Duties will vary depending on the number and ages of the children being looked after.

If you’re interested in helping children develop, and can create trusting relationships with them and their parents, this job could be ideal for you. In this job you’ll need creative ideas to organise interesting activities. You’ll also need patience, an understanding of child development, and a sense of humour.

Work activities

As a nanny, you would often look after babies and very young children. You may work as a maternity nanny, helping families care for newborn babies during the first few weeks of a baby’s life. Alternatively, you may work with older children or a mix of age groups.

Your duties could include:

  • feeding, bathing, dressing, and changing nappies
  • teaching basic social skills and hygiene
  • providing a safe environment
  • helping children to learn through play
  • going out with children to widen their experiences
  • doing the nursery and school runs
  • planning interesting things to do
  • taking children to medical appointments and other activities
  • organising play opportunities to help children mix with others
  • preparing healthy meals and snacks
  • tidying up and cleaning rooms used by the children
  • record-keeping for the family.

Working hours and conditions

You would work in a private household for up to 12 hours a day, five or six days a week. In addition, you may be expected to provide baby-sitting services as and when required. You might be a live-in nanny staying with a family in their home, or a live-out nanny travelling to them every day.

Some families share live-out nannies, which would mean looking after children from more than one family. You might look after them all at the same time, or split your week working between different houses.

You may need to obtain advanced Disclosure and Barring Service clearance to work with children.

Entry requirements

You may be able to start work as a nanny without any qualifications, though you’ll find it easier to get work if you have studied childcare. Some examples are:

  • Level 1 Award in Introduction to Health, Social Care and Children’s and Young People’s Settings
  • Level 2 Certificate for the Children and Young People’s Workforce.
  • Level 3 Diploma for the Children and Young People’s Workforce.

Course entry requirements may vary, so you’ll need to check with individual colleges and training providers for details.

Many courses include a placement. If not, it would be helpful for you to gain some experience, for example as a volunteer working with children. You’ll need to be aged 18 or over, and voluntary organisations can often arrange Disclosure and Barring Service checks.

Training and development

Nannies don’t have to be registered or inspected by Ofsted, but there is a voluntary part of the Ofsted Childcare Register that could help you show parents your commitment to the highest standards of care. It also allows parents to gain access to government support to help them pay for their childcare.

The PACEY (Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years) and Ofsted websites have more details.

If you haven’t already studied ‘Understand how to set up a home-based childcare service,’ as part of the Level 3 Diploma for the Children and Young People’s Workforce, you could study this unit by itself. It’s known as CYPOP 5 and covers information that’s useful to nannies.

You may also find it helpful to take courses in:

  • Child Protection Awareness
  • Basic Food Hygiene
  • An Introduction to Data Protection.

You can study these courses through PACEY or your local college or training provider.

Skills, interests and qualities

To be a nanny you should have:

  • knowledge of the physical, intellectual, emotional and social development of children
  • the ability to make close and trusting relationships with parents and children
  • a kind and cheerful personality
  • good imagination to plan activities that are fun and help development
  • patience, understanding and a sense of humour
  • a responsible attitude to work
  • the ability to cope with unexpected situations
  • commitment to health and safety, and food hygiene
  • the ability to stay calm under pressure
  • lots of energy and stamina.