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Home childcarers, nannies, au pairs and babysitters

People who are employed to look after your child or children at your home.

Find a childcarer near you


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. Some babysitters may be found on the  Family Services Directory

Questions to ask

Before you arrange home-based care think about asking some of the following questions:

  • Can they provide referees?
  • What childcare experience/qualifications do they have?
  • Why do they enjoy working with children?
  • How would they organise a child's day?
  • What is their attitude to issues like discipline, sleep and food?
  • How will they spend off-duty time if living in?
  • Have they completed any training?
  • Do they have a DBS disclosure?
  • Have they got a first aid certificate?

Other places to find childcarers

Some parents and nannies advertise in local papers, specialist national magazines and there are many nanny agencies that advertise in phone directories and on the internet. See nanny agencies on the Family Information Directory. Nanny agencies will charge a fixed fee or a percentage of the nanny's salary. Nanny agencies have to be registered employment agencies.

Voluntary Ofsted Childcare Register

Nannies and other home-based childcarers can apply to join the voluntary part of the Ofsted Childcare Register and will have to meet basic criteria to do this.