A nanny cam is a camera—often hidden in a teddy bear or similar object—that watches over your kids and makes sure your nanny’s doing a good job. They are quite controversial because many parents feel they invade your kids’ and nanny’s privacy, but many more parents love them.
Here are five questions you can ask to determine whether a nanny cam is right for you:
1. Why do you want a nanny cam?
A nanny cam should be a tool used to calm your anxiety around leaving your kids with someone else, and it should be installed before you even start interviewing nannies.
If you suspect that your current nanny is mistreating your child, you don’t need a nanny cam, you need a new caregiver. Don’t risk leaving your child with that person for another day.
2. Have you properly vetted your nanny?
Nanny cams are great, but they can only alert you to problems that are already happening. The best thing you can do to ensure your kids’ well being is thoroughly vet your nanny before hiring them.
Many parents choose to hire from an established caregiver network or company, assuming it will ensure the best care for their kids. Most of the time they’re right, but it’s always possible for a bad babysitter to slip through the cracks. Always get a background check and references, even if you’re hiring from an established company.
3. What are your local laws on surveillance?
It may be your house, but if you’re recording your nanny you need to be aware of local surveillance laws.
In most states it’s legal to have a nanny cam recording video even if you don’t inform the nanny, but you’ll have to get consent if you want to record audio. Filming your nanny in private areas, such as the bathroom or their bedroom if they live in your home, is entirely illegal throughout the states.
A quick Google search should be able to tell you all about surveillance laws in your state.
4. Are you going to tell your nanny about it?
Many parents think nanny cams are only effective if they’re kept secret, but saying you have a nanny cam is often enough to scare bad caregivers away.
Telling your caregiver that you’ve installed a nanny cam to calm your anxiety is considered a common professional courtesy. Some nannies will refuse to work in homes with a nanny cam because they feel disrespected or distrusted, but many will happily accept to work in a home with a nanny cam. And any nanny will feel insulted and possibly violated if she discovers a hidden camera, which could lose you a great caregiver.
5. What other measures can you take to ensure your children’s well being?
Nanny cams can show you a lot about the care your kids are receiving, but they can’t give you the complete picture. There are a few other things you should do to make sure your kids are safe:
- Check in with the nanny regularly – If they’re reluctant to communicate with you or you frequently have disagreements about how to care for your kids, they’re not the right fit for your family
- Watch how your kids interact with them – Your kids should never be afraid of their caregivers. Watch for signs of fear or anxiety in their body language when the nanny arrives
- Check in with your kids – It’s also important to ask your kids directly how they feel about the babysitter. They might not tell you if something bad is going on or if they feel uncomfortable, but they need to know they CAN come to you.
Last but certainly not least, always trust your gut instincts. You know what’s best for your family.