INA In-Home Child Care Definitions

There are a variety of terms for people who work in the home. Here are the definitions used by the International Nanny Association to describe various in-home child care jobs.

What is a nanny?

A nanny is a child care special­ist whose workplace is a family’s private home. A nanny is employed by a family to provide the highest level of customized child care and to give personalized attention to the family’s children. A nanny may be employed full time or part time, and the nanny may or may not live with the family. The nanny’s role is to provide support to the family by serving as a loving, nurturing and trustworthy companion to the children.

Ideally, a nanny will have special­ized child care skills, a deep under­standing of children and a genuine love of caring for children. A nanny offers the family convenient and consistent high quality child care by meeting each child’s physical, emotional, social and intellectual needs. In addition to traditional nannies who provide general child care, “specialty” nannies exist to meet the needs of families who desire a caregiver with expertise in a spe­cific area.

Types of Specialty Nannies

Newborn Care Specialists
Highly specialized and trained in-home childcare provider who focuses on the care and well-being of the newborn: I.e., the first 12-16 weeks of life.

  • Hired predominantly to care for newborns for either overnight shifts or around the clock care
  • Works independently with only minimal guidance from the parents
  • Familiar with the behaviors, appearance and general care of the newborn
  • Often has experience working with preemies and multiples
  • Well versed in helping establish good feeding and sleeping habits
  • Well versed in supporting family values
  • Well versed in various sleep conditioning methods and can develop a successful plan to getting the baby to sleep through the night and nap well as soon as reasonably possible in a healthy manner
  • Had the goal of a healthy, educated and empowered parent
  • Understands the value of and can support a breastfeeding mother
  • Has a basic understanding of Postpartum Mood Disorders, can recognize and confidently address the possibility with parents
  • Understands and can recognize the signs of possibly food allergies, intolerances and reflux and knows how to help
  • Is willing to share information with healthcare professionals in order to support optimal baby health
  • Keeps up on the latest information and studies in newborn care
  • Behaves in a professional manner and maintains family confidentiality
  • Understands the limits of their scope of practice and abides by them
  • Willing, at the appropriate time, to be both mentored and mentor others

Sleep Trainers
A sleep trainer is a nanny who specializes in developing individual routines and systems for helping babies and children develop solid, healthy sleep habits.

Temporary Nannies
A temporary nanny accepts short-term employment. Temporary nannies may provide emergency care, sick care or backup care. These assignments may last anywhere from a few hours to several months. Some tem­porary nannies travel with families to assist with child care.

Multiples Specialists
A multiples specialist is a nanny who has extensive experience caring for multiples and who works with families who have twins, triplets or higher order multiples.

A governess is an educationally qualified nanny employed by a family for the full- or part-time private home education or tutoring of the family’s children. A governess functions as an educator and is not usually employed to perform domestic tasks or to meet the physical needs of the family’s children.

Other types of in-home child care providers

In addition to nannies and specialty nannies, there are other types of child care providers that commonly work in private homes.

These include:

A babysitter provides supervisory, custodial care of children on a full-time or part-time basis. Many babysitters have no special training and have limited child care experience.

Au Pairs
An au pair is a foreign national between the ages of 18-26 who enters the United States through the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Au Pair Exchange Program, to experience American life for up to 24 months (au pairs in good standing can apply to extend their initial 12-month visit an additional 6, 9 or 12 months). Au pairs participate in the life of the host family by providing limited child care services (maximum 10 hours per day, 45 hours per week) and are compensated for their work according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Au pairs may not be placed in homes with infants three months of age or younger, unless a parent or responsible adult will be in the home supervising the au pair. An au pair may not be placed in the home with a child two years of age or younger unless they have 200 or more hours of documented child care experience.

Parents’ Helpers
A parents’ helper is employed by a family to provide full-time or part-time child care and domestic help for families in which one parent is home most of the time. Parents’ helpers may be left in charge of the children for brief periods of time and may or may not have previous child care experience.

Nursery Nurses
The title nursery nurse is used in Great Britain and refers to a person who has received special training and preparation in caring for young children. When employed by the family, she or he may live in or outside of the family’s home. A nursery nurse works independently and is responsible for everything related to the care of the children. Duties are generally restricted to child care and the domestic tasks related to child care. Nursery nurses on average work 50 to 60 hours per week. In addition to specialized training, the nursery nurse will also have successfully passed the national British certification examination of the Council for Awards in Children’s Care and Education (CACHE), which is formerly referred to as the National Nursery Examination Board Certifi­cate (NNEB). In the United States, the term “nurse” is reserved strictly for licensed medical professionals.