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A child and her nanny

A nanny or childminder is a person who looks after the child or children of another family. Childminding differs from nannying in that a nanny goes to the house of the child in order to care for it; childminders look after the child in the childminder's home. Modern nannies may live in or out, like other domestic workers, depending on their circumstances and those of their employers. The traditional nanny was a servant in a large household and reported directly to the lady of the house. A governess, in contrast to a nanny, concentrated on teaching and training children.


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 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 role in child care, nannies were somewhat more indulged than junior servants. Nannies may have remained in the employment of the same aristocrat family for years, looking after successive generations of children.

Nannies today

Today, although many families use the modern version of a nanny child care, the classic more historic version from times past is rare. Uniform may still be worn in some cases, but a respectful standard of dress is more common today. Perks of the job may include a nanny flat and a car. Some nannies are highly trained, e.g. at Norland Collegemarker or English Nanny & Governess School, but there is no restriction on the use of the word, so education, training, and experience vary greatly.


A nanny may perform tasks such as:

  • Providing childcare during the hours agreed upon with the employing family
  • Supporting the physical, social, emotional, creative, and intellectual development of the children of the family
  • Protecting the children of the family from harm and ensuring that they have a safe environment
  • Preparing appetizing and nutritionally-balanced meals and snacks to the children of the family
  • Maintaining good communication with the parents, informing them of each of their children's development and concerns in behavior
  • Maintaining the cleanliness and neatness of the house as affected by the children of the family


Typically, women in 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 the UK [38654].


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 the United Kingdom, 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." Childminding differs from nannying in that a nanny goes to the house of the child in order to care for it; childminders look after the child in the childminder's own home. The childminder and their house are both carefully assessed by OFSTED, with an inspection taking place every three years.

In the United Kingdom, the National Nursery Examination Board (NNEB) was founded in 1945 as the awarding body in qualifications for Nannies 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 undertstanding of child development and education needed to work as a Nanny.

Notable nannies

Fictional representations





Many television programs feature real nannies, many of which help parents discipline children.

See also


  1. OFSTED page on Childminders, includes assessment reports

External links

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