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A Nanny is employed to look after your child or children at your home. Nannies do not need to have formal childcare qualifications, but many do have nursery nurse or other relevant childcare qualifications. Nannies do not have to be registered or inspected by Ofsted unless they are looking after children from more than two families, so it is good to obtain references and check for DBS clearance before employment commences.

Nannies can either live in or come to your home for their set hours or days.

Some nannies have registered with Ofsted on the voluntary register.

Au pairs

An au pair is a young person who is:

  • single with no dependants
  • between 17 and 27
  • prepared to stay between 6 months and 2 years

An au pair travels to the United Kingdom to study English and live with an English-speaking family. In exchange they will help care for your child or children and are expected to help with the house work such as cleaning, dusting, ironing etc. They help out in the home for up to five hours a day with at least two full days off a week, in exchange for a weekly allowance, meals and their own room.

Au pairs do not need to be registered or inspected so it is important that you follow up and check references. They are not usually trained to work with children so are generally considered inappropriate to care for a young baby, but can be a good option when it comes to providing affordable after-school care.

More information can be found on the British Au Pair Agencies Association website.


Babysitters look after children in the child's home, generally for short term/one off evening/weekend periods. They do not need to be registered or inspected although however some registered childminders do offer babysitting services.


Doulas are not medical professionals (although some may have been nurses or midwives in the past) they are usually mothers themselves. They do not offer medical diagnosis, treatment or advice but, just as importantly, they can offer reassurance when parents are worrying needlessly about a baby that would not settle or sleep or if the mother is anxious. Doulas are not part of a medical team, but if they are supporting a woman in labour, in the hospital or in the home, they can help to strengthen the woman and act as her advocate and constant companion. However, they cannot challenge medical or midwifery advice given to the woman or persuade her against a course of action or treatment suggested by the medical team. Doulas also act as a 'recorder' of events for the mother. Most women forget what happened during the birth so if, later on, they want to know about it, the doula will be able to tell them in a way that does not traumatise them. The skill of the doula is to keep the mother's outlook balanced and positive

Mother’s Help

Generally our Mother's Help originate from Europe, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Some may have already completed a similar programme in another country and now wish to continue their career in the UK. These candidates are generally fluent in English and adapt well to the British lifestyle.

A Mother's Help is expected to:

• have had some experience in child care but is not expected to have had formal training

• be treated as a member of the host family

• be provided with their own bedroom and full-board

Under the supervision of the employer a Mother's Help works between 36 - 45 hours per week plus two evenings babysitting.

Whilst Mother's Helps are not domestic cleaners, duties can include childcare, light housework, washing and ironing. Often these candidates are happy to help out with school runs, after school activities, play-dates and help educate the child in a creative and positive manner. They are a welcoming extra pair of hands to a busy active family.

Salary from £180 net per week (approximately £10,000 gross p.a) for native English speaking Mother's Help depending upon age and experience. Salary of between £130 - £180 net per week (approcimately £7,000- £10,000 gross p.a.) for European Mother's Help applicants where English is not their first language.

According to Working Time Regulations BAPAA recommends that the UK basic holiday allowance of 28 days per annum should apply or 1.66 days per month pro-rata if the placement is shorter than a year. This can include public and bank holidays.

Maternity Nannies

For many new parents, a Maternity Nurse is the shining light at the end of the tunnel! Often qualified but more importantly, very experienced in the care of postnatal mothers and newborn babies. A maternity Nurse is skilled in supporting, caring for and teaching new parents how to care for their newborn baby while also allowing parents the time to rest and recover from the birth of their baby.

Whether baby is breast or bottle fed, a Maternity Nurse will advise and carry out all duties relating to the care of mother and baby during those first crucial weeks following the birth. She will perform “nursery duties” meaning she will take care of all aspects of the baby’s care including washing of baby items and keeping the nursery and feeding equipment clean and tidy. Some parents may simply require the help of a Maternity Nurse to “take over” when they need a rest so it depends on the individual requirements of the family when it comes to the specific duties.

A Maternity Nurse usually lives-in and is on duty 24 hours a day up to six days a week. That said, it is important that your Maternity Nurse is allowed to have sufficient breaks to enable her to catch up on her own sleep, ensuring that she is fit and well enough to care for your baby while on duty.

Is a Maternity Nurse qualified?

Some Maternity Nurses are very experienced and were practicing long before the modern qualifications came into play. There are now a range of qualifications up to level three being offered by accredited training providers. There is also a move away from the traditional title of Maternity Nurse, many now being called postnatal carers or maternity practitioners. Use your own judgement, an experienced Maternity Nurse can be a far better fit than a newly qualified candidate. Cost will also dictate this and if you’re looking for basic support, consider a trainee maternity nurse who may work for a much lower rate than the £100 to £150 per day average charge.

What do I need to provide for a Maternity Nurse?

In addition to the respite noted above, you should also provide a room (usually shared with the baby) and use of a bathroom. Ideally an en-suite if available so that she does not disturb Mum and Dad during the night. A private space should also be provided so that the Maternity Nurse has somewhere to spend her off time without being interrupted. Meals are also to be provided.

What makes a good Maternity Nurse?

Qualifications and experience together, make for a good start. Nothing however, can replace a word of mouth recommendation or a string of excellent references. When choosing your Maternity Nurse, personality plays a huge role in the decision making process. Before starting your search, it is important to keep in mind that many Maternity Nurses are booked up well in advance so don’t leave it too late to start looking. Make a list of the key attributes you’re looking for. Make a list of questions to ask at the interview and ask the prospective Maternity Nurse what she will do and what she won’t do. You’ll soon get a clear idea of who fits best.

It may be that you prefer a very structured approach to routine and feeding or perhaps you’re a little bit more relaxed and want someone who isn’t going to strong-arm you into doing things their way or no way at all. A Maternity Nurse is very experienced in caring for Mums and newborns however, to get the most out of the experience, it is important that you get along well as you’ll be spending a lot of time together at a very special time.

It is worth noting that a while a Maternity Nurse will carry out the standard “nursery duties” you cannot expect her to care for other children in the home. Her primary responsibility is in caring for the newborn, establishing healthy routines and ensuring that both mother and baby are taken care of in those early weeks following the birth. It is however, a good idea to introduce your other children to the Maternity Nurse as she will no doubt at some point, interact with them and she can also offer advice on how to deal with issues such as toddler jealousy after the arrival of the new baby.