Miriam Arond, the editor-in-chief of Child magazine, visits The Early Show Monday with advice on how to make the process less stressful and more successful.
While agencies can help place nannies, Arond says parents need to take an active role.
First, you need to figure out how much you can afford. If you have more than one child, a nany ay be more cost effective. If you have one child and finances are tight, day-care may be a better option.
A lot also may depend on commuting and the realities of your lifestyle - if you work late or irregular hours, you may be better with a nanny.
It's definitely a dollar-and-cents issue. But, even if you can afford a nanny, you may want day-care for a more social atmosphere for the child.
When you're interviewing nannies, it's very important to do two interviews with them as well as screening them over the phone.
Then meet them in person and talk about how they handle different issues, like sleep and discipline. Find out their status with their previous employer. (It's great, if they're still in touch).
Bring the child out and watch them interact.
Check the references the nanny gave you. Make sure the person isn't a relative. Check the tone and genuineness of the reference. Even if an agency has already checked references, you need to talk to those people. Somebody can think a nanny is fantastic but you may have a whole different list of criteria. By calling the references you can see if you relate to them and whether or not your priorities are similar.
By checking up yourself, you can gauge if they're going to work for you. You can never be too careful with the background checks. This is one of the most important decisions you're going to make.
Agencies do criminal background checks and motor vehicle background checks, and it's easier to have someone else do that for you.
There are agencies that can refer candidates to you. If you have friends with nannies, then you might be able to get referrals that way, and if you live in a small area there are local papers with job listings.
There are also Web sites that offer job postings for nannies.
A lot of people feel more secure with agencies, especially if they are tight on time.
As far as benefits go, treat this person like a member of your family. If they're not happy, it's going to trickle down to your child.
Think about what you like and discuss in advance the holidays you'll be giving off. You may want to talk about them planning their vacation when you're away, and be honest about the flexibility you expect, like how much notice you need before they take a day off.
You want to be as generous as possible but you don't want someone calling in sick every day. It is important to think about backup if the nanny is sick, which is the downside to having a nanny.
I think starting with two weeks vacation is the norm and the hours vary - some people pay more so they have a longer day, and in some cases cleaning and shopping are also involved.
If you need someone to run errands for you it may cost a little more. Providing health insurance is the right thing to do. Some people may not get the nanny health insurance, but they pick up medical bills.
Whether or not you should put your agreement in writing is up to you, but put down your expectations in writing.
You don't have to think of it as an official contract. You do have to write down that this will be finessed as time goes on, because you may want to add something that wasn't originally discussed.
And it has to be clear that it's a relationship that works for both sides - a work in progress. You want to find someone who you can talk to and have a relationship with.
Once you've hired your nanny, it's extremely important to have the nanny come over while you're still home to see how your day goes.
This gives the nanny a chance to see how you deal with the kids, what they eat, what's acceptable and what's not. You can introduce them to neighbors and have family members drop by to meet them.
See how they put the baby down for a nap, how they give them a bath, and so on.