Demystifying the types of nanny

Published: 03/06/2020

You’ve researched all the childcare options -- nurseries, childminders (someone who looks after your children in their own home, usually with other children from different families) and nannies -- and have decided a nanny is the right choice for you and your family. You may think you’ve got through the main hurdle and can just jump into your search BUT just like the different types of childcare, there are different types of nannies and they offer different levels of childcare and domestic help.

Nannies, nanny-housekeepers, live in, live out, shared nannies and rota nannies. It’s exhausting just writing this list! That’s why we’ve created this guide to help you narrow down the options before you start your search.

NANNY (The specialist)

Nannies are experienced (and often qualified) childcare professionals whose main responsibility is caring for your children. This includes their physical and general wellbeing, organising fun and educational activities and supporting their all-round development. They will also do cooking, light cleaning and laundry, but only for the children.


  • Days and hours can be flexible, depending on individual requirements.
  • Domestic and house-keeping support is limited to the children’s nursery/bedroom and their clothes.
  • There are a lot of people out there claiming to be nannies but not all of them are very experienced or have been carefully vetted.

myTamarin recommends: 

A nanny is a good fit for families who are looking for someone who is dedicated to the care and wellbeing of their children when they are not around. However, if you’re looking for or a greater emphasis on housekeeping, a nanny may not tick all your boxes. Nannies are popular with parents hiring for the first time, and also those who have a separate cleaner. Occasionally, because babies tend to have a couple of good naps during the day, a nanny can do (some) light housekeeping as well, but be realistic with your expectations as babies are notorious for being unpredictable.

NANNY-HOUSEKEEPER (The multi-tasker)

In addition to caring for your children, nanny-housekeepers will also take care of non-childcare specific duties such as cooking, cleaning and laundry for the entire family. While exact arrangements will differ depending on individual requirements, the role of nanny-housekeepers is typically split fifty-fifty between childcare and other domestic duties.


  • Hiring one person to care for your children as well as clean your home can be a win-win situation.
  • No-one has eyes in the back of their head and it’s not possible to excel at either if your children need full-time supervision.

myTamarin recommends: 

Nanny-housekeepers work well for families with school age children. In the mornings and evenings, they can care for your child(ren), and they can spend time cleaning and on other domestic duties when the children are at school. They can also work well if one parent is at home during the day and can take sole charge of the child(ren) for periods while the nanny focuses on the children

MATERNITY NANNY (The baby whisperer)

Maternity nannies are experienced nannies who work with babies and younger children, generally up to toddler age. They aren’t necessarily qualified, but they do need to have lots of hands-on experience with families and babies. Like nannies, maternity nannies are focused on the mum and baby and will only take care of child-related domestic duties. 


  • Maternity nannies can work with newborn babies, but they typically start when the baby is around 3 months after a maternity nurse has left.
  • Maternity nannies take on more of a general supportive role and can’t typically help with more complex baby matters such as breastfeeding which a maternity nurse would be able to do.

myTamarin recommends: 

Maternity nannies are a great option when you want the additional reassurance of having someone with a lot of baby experience to look after your baby from an early age. We often see parents opting for a maternity nanny rather than a nanny when it’s their first time around

LIVE-IN NANNY (The resident)

Live-in nannies and nanny-housekeepers live with you in your home, or in alternative accommodation that is provided and paid for by you. If living in your home, they will also be sharing your communal space, to some extent.   


  • Live-in nannies require their own bedroom and private bathroom in most cases although some will consider sharing a bathroom with the children.
  • If you can offer a separate floor, or even a separate entrance, your job will be much more attractive. While some nannies will not settle for anything less, this is not a standard requirement at all.
  • No matter what, do not expect nannies to share a bedroom with your child(ren). While this is sometimes the case in some of the Asian cultures, it’s not deemed acceptable in most Western countries. If you somehow manage to negotiate that, it’s almost guaranteed that your relationship won’t last long.
  • A live-in nanny contract typically includes two nights a week of babysitting, usually between Monday and Thursday, which can help with last-minute childcare emergencies, but it’s wrong to assume they will provide additional duties outside of their contracted hours just because they are living with you 24/7.
  • Tension is bound to occur at some point because you have someone living in your home 24/7, and when it does, it’s hard to put space between you and take a breather
  • You will also have to consider the “visitor policy”. Typically, parents don’t allow nannies to bring in visitors, even if they are close family, unless they have separate accommodation. 
  • Live-in nannies are less expensive than live-out nannies, but you will have to pay for their food (during working and non-working days). 

myTamarin recommends: 

Live-in nannies are great for families with busy parents who have unpredictable schedules, or travel a lot. Knowing that a trained professional is residing in your own home 24/7 can certainly bring peace of mind for anxious parents. In the UK, only about 19% of nannies are live-in, yet about 30% of parents look for a live-in nanny. They are in high demand! Don’t confuse a live-in nanny with an au pair though

LIVE-OUT NANNY (The commuter)

Live-out nannies and nanny-housekeepers don’t live in your home but will commute to work every day.


  • Families don’t need to worry about providing accommodation for live-out nannies.
  • A live-out arrangement gives the family and the nanny more privacy outside work hours.
  • Live-out nannies may be less flexible in terms of changes to hours or last minute changes/requests.

myTamarin recommends: 

Live-out nannies are most suitable for families that need childcare support during the day, but enjoy their own space and privacy when they are at home during the evening

AU PAIR (The traveller)

Au pairs are young (between 18-24 years old) and generally come from another country. In return for lodging, modest spend (and the cultural experience) they will do a range of childcare and domestic duties. They are not qualified childcarers, but will take your children to school, entertain them, and do some light housekeeping duties such as preparing meals and laundry (only for the children). The arrangement with au pairs is historically regarded as a cultural exchange between the employer and employee, including time out to learn the native language of the host family.


  • Au pairs often lack experience and can only work for a maximum of 30 hours a week in the UK.
  • Au pairs working in the UK are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage or paid holidays; they are treated as a member of the family they live with and get ‘pocket money’.
  • Au pairs can give you and your family the opportunity to broaden your horizons, in terms of language and culture.
  • The organisation and payment for au pairs to relocate to the host family’s country is in part, and sometimes completely, assumed by the host family.

myTamarin recommends: 

Au pairs are perfect for families who are looking for more affordable childcare support and don’t mind helping the au pair learn and develop (and vice versa as well!). It can also be a great arrangement for families who themselves may have originally lived in a different country and speak multiple languages. Au pairs are popular with families who have school-aged children so that they can provide the wrap-around care, i.e. before and after school.

MOTHER’S HELP (The collaborator)

A mother’s help performs many of the same duties as nannies, but they lack the experience necessary to be left in sole charge of the children. Instead, they focus more on supporting the mum or dad in jointly caring for the children.  


  • Due to their lack of experience, hiring a mother’s help is generally cheaper than hiring a nanny.
  • For the same reason, it’s not advisable to leave a mother’s help in sole charge of your children for extended periods of time.

myTamarin recommends: 

A mother’s help suits families with a stay at home mum or dad who is looking for extra support when they are alone with the children during the day.

SHARED NANNY (The chameleon)

Nanny sharing is a situation where two families engage the services of a single nanny to care for their children. As the name suggests, the families literally share the nanny.


  • Children will have the company of another child and the cost of a nanny to one family will be about 30% less.
  • Holiday scheduling for the nanny can become complicated due to the different schedules of the families.
  • Disagreements a nanny has with one family could overflow to the other family.
  • Families may develop differing philosophies over time about things such as appropriate TV viewing, homework, housekeeping, playmates and playgroups.

myTamarin recommends: 

Shared nannies work particularly well if the families know each other and have children of a similar age who are at the same schools. They can provide the best in-home childcare at a minimum cost. It is however a rather complex arrangement, more sensitive to any changes and therefore not typically as long lasting as other nanny arrangements. The first hurdle many families experience is agreeing (or rather not!) on who’s the right nanny

ROTA NANNY (The insomniac)

Rota nannies work in a rota system with other nannies; they take it in turns to work and are typically required to provide constant care for the children 24/7 when they are on duty. Duties are generally split on a two-weekly basis, e.g., nanny number one works for the family for two weeks and then has two weeks off and nanny number two will cover when nanny number one is off.

We once spoke with one of the nannies who was employed by the famous tennis player, Roger Federer. Given they had two sets of twins, and their insane travel schedule, each set of twins had two nannies, who would rotate every two weeks. 


  • Due to the 24/7 nature of the job, rota nannies command a high salary.
  • Rota nannies deliver typical nanny duties, but may have additional responsibilities due to the 24/7 nature of the role.

myTamarin recommends: 

Rota nannies work well for high-profile families who need the reassurance of having someone to care for their children 24/7.

One final consideration is whether you are looking for a sole charge or a shared charge arrangement. Sole charge means the nanny is caring for the child(ren) on her own and will generally create the schedule and figure out what to do each day (with minimal input). Shared charge is where one parent is around too , so you make decisions together and share the care. This set-up works particularly well for more junior nannies or in larger families. A word of warning -- contrary to popular belief, shared care doesn't cost less because the job is typically much harder for the nanny!

Not knowing what you are looking for in a nanny leads to inefficient searches and unhappy candidates. So, make sure you've got a clear idea on the following before you start: live-in, live-out, the accommodation set up, the location, the start date, the duties (especially whether there is any light housekeeping, and how much), the exact schedule, and the salary (with no more than a 10% range in your budget). 

Identifying the different types of nanny and their duties is only half the battle! Next comes having a clear view of some of the more subjective criteria such as characteristics, personality, values, and parenting style. You can find out more on this and the psychology behind a successful match here.

If you're ready to find the right nanny for you, sign up here.

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