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A child and her nanny
A baboe and the children in her care in colonial Indonesia. 1934
A British childminder during the Second World War
Childminders and children in East Berlin, 1984.

A nanny, childminder, child care provider, or mother's helper (the last designation not to be confused with the slang term "mother's little helper," denoting a tranquilizer pill) is an individual who provides care for one or more children in a family as a service. Traditionally, nannies were servants in large households and reported directly to the lady of the house. Today, modern nannies, like other domestic workers, may live in or out of the house depending on their circumstances and those of their employers. Professional nannies are usually certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, qualified in First Aid, and have a degree or extensive training in child development. There are many employment agencies that specialize in childcare and online services that aid in finding available nannies.

A childminder cares for the child in the childminder's home. Depending on the country they live in, government registration may or may not be required.

A governess, in contrast to a nanny, concentrates on teaching and training children.

A special type of modern nanny is known as a mother's helper. They are hired to assist mothers in the chores of the household as well as care for the children. A mother's helper may live in or out of the house.


  • History 1
    • Colonial era 1.1
    • Types of nanny 1.2
      • Live in nanny 1.2.1
      • Nanny Share 1.2.2
      • Night nanny/maternity nurse/Newborn Care Specialists 1.2.3
    • Demographic 1.3
    • Associations 1.4
    • Training and qualifications 1.5
  • Childminding 2
    • Childminder registration in the United Kingdom 2.1
      • England 2.1.1
      • Wales 2.1.2
      • Scotland 2.1.3
      • Northern Ireland 2.1.4
    • Adult: Child Ratio for a childminder 2.2
    • Early Years Foundation Stage and Every Child Matters 2.3
    • United Kingdom legislation related to childminders 2.4
    • Associations and representation 2.5
    • Training and qualifications 2.6
  • Notable nannies 3
  • Fictional representations 4
    • Animals 4.1
    • Men 4.2
    • Women 4.3
  • Television 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


In the 19th and early 20th century, the position was usually known as a "nurse", and was, as for many childcare jobs, invariably female. In a great house the nurse was a more senior member of the household staff and ran her own domain, a suite of rooms called the nursery, supported by at least one assistant, known as a nursemaid (or nurserymaid). Because of their deep involvement in raising the children of the family, nannies were often remembered with great affection and treated more kindly than the junior servants. Nannies may have remained in the employment of the same aristocratic family for years, looking after successive generations of children. In the 21st century however the word is often shortened to Nan.

Colonial era

Nannies were present in the households of the administrators of European colonial empires throughout the world. It was a characteristic feature of colonial society that the children of European administrative officers were entrusted to the care of native women.

Nannies in colonial times spent their lives in the homes of their masters, often from childhood till old age, taking care of more than one generation, depending on the duration of the post. It was not uncommon for these nannies to be brought along with the family away from their native country when administrative officers were posted somewhere else.

  • In the Indian subcontinent under the British Raj a nanny was known as ayah, after aia, nurse, governess (Portuguese). This term is presently part of the vocabulary of various languages of the Subcontinent, meaning also female servant or maid.
  • In the Dutch East Indies the household nanny was known as baboe.

Although many families use the modern version of a nanny, some of the features used in historical practices are now rare. Uniforms may still be worn in some cases, but a respectful standard of dress is more common. Some nannies are highly trained, but there is no restriction on the use of the word, so education, training, and experience vary greatly.

Types of nanny

Live in nanny

A "live in" nanny is less common today than in the past. Typically, a live in nanny is responsible for the entire care of the children of their employers. This includes anything from washing the children's clothes and tidying the children's rooms, to supervising homework and preparing children's meals, as well as taking children to and from school and activities. The job may include a separate apartment (sometimes called a "nanny flat") and a car. A live in nanny is available 24 hours a day, unless their employment contract states otherwise.

Nanny Share

Some families use what is known as a 'nanny share', where two or more families pay for the same nanny to care for the children in each family on a part-time basis.[1]

Night nanny/maternity nurse/Newborn Care Specialists

A more recent addition to the role of nanny is that of the maternity nanny or night nanny. In the US these specialty maternity nannies are also known as Newborn Care Specialists (NCS, disassociating this specialty for true nursing). The night nanny usually works with a family anywhere from one night to seven nights per week. A night nanny generally works with children from newborn to five years of age. A night nanny can provide a teaching role, helping parents to establish good sleeping patterns or trouble shooting the sleeping patterns of a child, but generally will not take on a teaching role. She will look to the parents for guidance. Certified Newborn Care Specialists or maternity nannies are highly educated and referenced specialists who work with newborn - 12 weeks only. They are highly experienced in all aspects of newborns not to include medical issues. They might work 24 hours a day, seven days per week, but most work 5 nights/days a week for the first three months of a newborn's life. The role can also consist of assisting parents with feeding guidance, nursery set up, preemies, multiples, colic, reflux, and sleep guidance/training. The qualifications of a night nanny are usually in mothercraft nursing (see: Nursing in Australia), maternity nanny, sleep guidance specialist, or early childhood development. Pay rates vary from country to country but are usually well paid in comparison to the general nanny, as the night nanny or NCS is seen as a specialist or expert in their field. Gentle Venture's Training Center [2]] provides workshops and training for Newborn Care Specialists with on line and in person classes. The Newborn Care Specialist Association (NCSA) ( is the certification entity for Newborn Care Specialists.


Typically, women from their 20s to 60's take up employment as nannies. Some are younger, though normally younger workers are nursemaids or au pairs rather than nannies in the traditional use of the term.

A few positions are filled by men; the term manny is sometimes used for a male nanny, especially in the US and UK.[2][3]


There are a number of national and international professional associations representing nannies and nanny agencies. The International Nanny Association (INA) was founded in 1985. INA is a non-profit organization which provides an educational association for nannies with placement, employment, and professional support. The Alliance of Professional Nanny Agencies (APNA) was founded in 1993. It is a non-profit organization that promotes professionalism in the nanny placement industry. In June 2012 the Australian Nanny Association (ANA) was formed in Australia with the aims of having professional nannies included in the regulated government subsidised childcare scheme of the country. ANA is a volunteer run, not for profit association that also hopes to change some public misconceptions about nannies, encourage professionalism and be a source of support to nannies and the families who employ them.

Training and qualifications

In the United Kingdom, no formal qualifications or training are required to become a nanny. However, the National Nursery Examination Board (NNEB) was founded in 1945 as the awarding body in qualifications for childminders and nursery personnel. In 1994 the NNEB and the Council for Early Years Awards (CEYA) merged to form CACHE - The Council for Awards in Children's Care and Education, with their CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Child Care and Education providing the knowledge and understanding of child development and education needed to work as a Nanny.

Norland College is a private college near Bath, which offers highly regarded training as a nanny. It also operates its own employment agency for graduates, as well as a local nursery in Bath.


In the United States and Canada a childminder is referred to as a Daycare Provider, similar to a Nursery. In the United Kingdom, a childminder provides childcare for a small number of children from different families in the childminder's own home. A nanny provides care for the children of a single family in the children's home.

A childminder is the owner/operator of a small business, a nanny is an employee.[4]

Although OFSTED define a childminder as someone who "provide[s] care for children under eighteen years of age, for more than two hours each day, on domestic premises, for reward" there are a number of legal regulations that are applied to childminders which do not cover nannies.[5]

All childminders in England are legally required to register with OFSTED on the Early Years register (if providing care for children under the age of five), and the Compulsory part of the General Childcare Register (if providing care for children aged between five and eight years old).[6] Childminders do not have to be registered if they are only providing care for children over the age of eight.

Childminders registered with OFSTED are required to make a copy of their inspection report available on request. All inspection reports are available via the Ofsted website (in the case of childminders, names and addresses are removed).[7]

Childminders in Wales are required to register with the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW). The registrations requirements are nearly identical to those in England.[8]

Childminders in Scotland are required to register with the Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (SCSWIS)[9]

In Northern Ireland, the Health & Social Services Trusts are the relevant authority for the Inspection and Regulation of Childminders.[10]

It is an offence to work as an unregistered childminder in the United Kingdom.

Childminder registration in the United Kingdom


In order to register as a childminder in England, the applicant must:

  • Attend a short training course, known as Introduction to Setting Up and Home Based Childcare Business (often shortened to SHC) or Introduction to Childcare Practice (often shortened to ICP). This is one module of the NVQ level 3 diploma in working with Children and Young People, and is also be known by the module code CYPOP 5.
  • Obtain a qualification in Child Safeguarding. (This is generally part of the SHC course)
  • Undertake a Paediatric First Aid Certificate with a recognised trainer (such as St John's Ambulance or similar)
  • Register with OFSTED
  • Register with HMRC as self-employed
  • Obtain Public Liability Insurance

It is only once all of these criteria are met that a person is legally allowed to care for other people's children in their own home. However, if someone is still in the process of registering they are allowed to advertise their services, as long as all of these criteria are met by the time they are actually providing the care.

All childminders are required to have their registration certificate and public liability certificate on display during their working hours.


In Wales, a childminder must be registered with the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW). The criteria for registration are much the same as those for registration in England.[11]


Childminder in Scotland must be registered with Social Care and Social Work Improvement Services SCSWIS. The training requirements are different from those in England and Wales, as are the numbers of children that can be cared for, and only the Welfare Requirements of the EYFS must be followed.[12]

Northern Ireland

The Health & Social Services Trusts are the relevant authority for the Inspection and Regulation of childminders in Northern Ireland.[13] As in Scotland, the training requirements and number of children that can be cared for are different from England and Wales.

Adult: Child Ratio for a childminder

The maximum number of children a single childminder in England and Wales can care for at any one time is six children under the age of 8 (it is not compulsory to register if care is only being provided for children over the age of eight). Of these six children:

  • Only one child may be under the age of One.
  • Three children may be under the age of Five. (This number includes any children under the age of one)
  • Six children may be under the age of Eight. (This number includes any children under the age of five, and under the age of one)

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, the number is six children between the birth and the age of twelve. The number of children can be increased if a childminder works with an assistant who also has a Paediatric First Aid Certificate.

It should be noted that these numbers are inclusive of any of the childminders own children.

It is also possible for OFSTED to grant a childminder a variation to allow them to care for additional children in each age category, for example to allow one childminder to care for a set of twins under the age of one.

Early Years Foundation Stage and Every Child Matters

In the wake of the case of Victoria Climbié, the government in England and Wales introduced the Every Child Matters initiative, with a detailed framework that requires the multiple agencies involved with children to work together. Frontline educational agencies, including childminders, are required to follow the framework.

In Scotland, a similar piece of legislation is known as Getting it Right for Every Child - GIRFEC.

In 2008, the Early Years Foundation Stage was introduced for children in between birth and the age of five. This consists of a series of Welfare requirements and a series of Learning and Development requirements. In England and Wales, childminders are required to follow the entirety of the EYFS, but in Scotland, only the Welfare Requirements must be followed.

The EYFS is a controversial piece of legislation and in 2011 was reviewed by Dame Claire Tickell.[14] A series of amendments are due to be released in 2012.

United Kingdom legislation related to childminders

The following UK legislation covers registered childminders:

Associations and representation

There are three main childminding associations in the United Kingdom, the National Childminding Association (NCMA), the Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA), and the Northern Ireland Childminding Association (NICMA). These associations provide training, advice and support to members, as well as representing the interests of childminders at national levels.

Many counties within the UK also have childminding associations, and also provide support, advice and training to their members.

There are no legal requirements for childminders to be members of any associations.

Training and qualifications

In order to register in the United Kingdom, a childminder must undertake a basic qualification in childcare practise, as well as obtaining a certificate in child protection, and a paediatric first aid certificate.[15]

Once registered, there are no further qualification required, however there are a range of qualifications available within the field of Early Childhood Education, up to and including Postgraduate level.

Notable nannies

Fictional representations





Various television programs feature real nannies, many of whom help parents discipline children. These include Abismo de pasión (in Spanish), Nanny 911, Supernanny, and Take Home Nanny.

See also


  1. ^ "About Nanny Sharing". Nannyshare. Nanny Share. Retrieved May 2, 2013. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Meet the manny". The Times: Families. Times Newspapers Limited. January 20, 2007. 
  4. ^ "PACEY – Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years". UK: PACEY. Retrieved May 3, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Compliance, investigation and enforcement handbook: childminding and childcare". Ofsted: Resources. Ofsted. Retrieved May 3, 2013. 
  6. ^ "About the two early years and childcare registers". Ofsted: Early years and childcare: For early years and childcare providers. Ofsted. Retrieved May 3, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Find an inspection report". Ofsted: Inspection reports. Ofsted. Retrieved May 3, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Child minding and day care". CSSIW. CSSIW. Retrieved May 3, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Scottish Childminding Association". SCMA. SCMA. Retrieved May 3, 2013. 
  10. ^ "New Minimum Standards for Childminding". NICMA the Childminding Association. NICMA. Retrieved May 3, 2013. 
  11. ^ Regulations for childminders in Wales
  12. ^ SCMA information about becoming a childminder in Scotland
  13. ^ NICMA information of registering as a childminder in Northern Ireland
  14. ^ "Tickell Review". Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Childminder Training and Qualifications". Sleeping Angels. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 

External links

  • USA Today article on CEO nannies
  • NCMA the National Childminding Association website
  • SCMA the Scottish Childminding Association website
  • NICMA the Northern Ireland Childminding Association website
  • OFSTED the Ofsted website
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