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Nanny Cam

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Childcare > Nannies > Nanny Cam


Questions

Husband opposed to nanny cam

June 2009

Hello, We are hiring a nanny to look after our 7 month old. I would like to install nanny cameras to make sure she is doing the job properly (and to find out quickly if she is abusing the baby, God forbid). I know I will be going crazy at work thinking that my baby might be in trouble and I won't know it. But my husband is adamantly against nanny cams, which he views as a violation of privacy. I view it as a common sense precaution necessary when letting a virtual stranger care for our only child; I also think our house becomes the nanny's workplace and no one is guaranteed privacy at a workplace. These arguments are not working for my husband though. How can I convince him that a nanny camera is a good idea? Thanks! Worried Mom


I agree with your husband that a nanny cam (or several?!) is not advisable. It is intrusive and shows disrespect and a lack of trust, and this will not be ideal for setting up your new relationship with this person. If you don't have a trusting relationship with your nanny -- the person who will be like a second mom to your child -- then you should not leave your child with them. In the time it takes to develop a relationship, you are just going to have to trust that you have found the right person for your family. Don't you have, for example, references for this person and have you spoken with them on the telephone? If you can't speak with their prior families, or if you just have a bad feeling, then don't use this person as a nanny. I appreciate that a new mom can be nervous about leaving her child, but your approach seems excessive to me and better solved by means other than a bunch of cameras. As an alternative for you to get your baby fix during the day, perhaps you can ask your nanny to skype you (at her initiation) during the day so you can see your cute little one and that he/she is fine and that'll give you enough confidence to get through the rest of the day. anon
Hi Worried Mom Have you considered having cameras and telling the nanny about them and letting her know it's your way of getting to see your child when you can't be there? You might really enjoy seeing tidbits of the day and it would change the relationship with the camera from snooping to visiting with your nanny and child. This could even be a way to get some home movies.

Other thoughts: Presumably the nanny will take the baby for walks or otherwise be away from the cameras, so cameras are not a guarantee.

If your child is happy to see the nanny that's an indication things are going well.

Wondered sometimes myself - but had caregivers I knew through other families first, so I had confidence in them. That's the best security. Good luck! Moms worry - it comes with the territory


I applaud your husband's stand on this issue. How could you leave your child with someone you don't trust?????????????? If you don't trust this person find someone you do. If you don't trust anyone, then do it yourself. Or if that is not an option do your inner work. Turn your attention towards your fear and dive in- head first with no safety net and see what life looks like on the other side. Then again you could choose to snuggle up with your fear regardless of how your child is cared for. anon
Hi There, We had a nanny cam installed when we had a nanny. And here's why. I started to notice my child, who was 1 at the time not connecting with the nanny even though the nanny was with us for about 3 months. I started to get the feeling that we wasn't doing her job as she tells me everyday. It was more of a gut feeling and more importantly I got some cues from our child at the time. After my husband install the nanny cam, we found out that our nanny was a perpetual liar. She told me that while they were at home, she read, interacted, danced and played with our child. But when I looked at the recording I found out that the nanny was on the phone most of the day while the TV was on the WHOLE day. We immediately fired her. But it has been a great help for us to make sure that our child are taken care of properly. It's legal to record people, but it needs to be without sound. When you record with sound that becomes illegal. My husband and I didn't have an issue with the ''privacy'' nature of it since we needed to know that this person wasn't harming or neglecting our child. We also, placed the camera in a ''public'' area that most people will be in most of the time, like the living room and kitchen. We also placed one in our child's bedroom as well. We didn't place on the bathroom. We are so happy that we install the cam and we never regretted it. It's really a comfort issue knowing that you can see for yourself how your child is being treated. I work long hours and it was driving me crazy to where I couldn't eat lunch or think, not knowing what was happening at home. We also figured, we are the employers and so therefore we have every right to know the truth. If your nanny is doing her job, it will also give you some sense of comfort knowing so. Good luck with it. Working mom
The fair thing to do is to notify the nanny you're installing cameras. Then it's out in the open. But, by installing cameras, you're begining your relationship with this person by basically saying you don't trust her at all. Huh?? So why did you hire her?? Personally, I think it's a pretty slimy thing. If you're that worried about handing over your child to a stranger, you need to put him/her in a state-licensed daycare where there are multiple caregivers, parents coming in and out all the time, and plenty of checks and balances to prevent bad situations. anon
The biggest lesson for me in leaving my babies with our wonderful nanny (which is definitely scary at first) was that you have to trust them. If you feel like you need to watch the nanny constantly then perhaps you're not hiring the right person. A nanny is really a partner in parenting, not just an employee. They can be an amazing help in creating the kind of caring, learning environment that you want for your child. I think you'd do better to find a nanny via recommendations from friends or family who can trace the nanny's work history back for many years. My children are now in preschool, but we still regularly visit with our nanny and her entire family and I can't imagine treating someone who's had such a personal role in our lives merely as an employee. At some point you'll need to trust someone else to care for your children. In a few years do you plan on asking the preschool to install cameras? I know it's scary - good luck. Anonymous
I am pretty sure video taping someone without their knowledge is illegal. If you mistrust this woman (or nannies in general) so much maybe a childcare center would be a better fit for your family. Anon
How about the solution that you have a nanny cam - but tell the nanny you have it. If she isn't okay with it then you would know she might be worried about how she does her job. Just an idea. Anon
I was a nanny for a few years and was highly regarded by everyone I worked for and the children I cared for. I never applied for jobs that had nanny cams.

Why? Because I would never want to work for someone where the premise is automatically that of mistrust. I am basically being told that no matter how long I work for my employer and how happy their child is when the parents come home at the end of the day I will never earn their trust.

My feeling is that if you have any doubt whatsoever about the nanny you are considering hiring you should not hire that person. You should love the nanny you hire and feel really confident and comfortable with them after the interview and a little observation time with him or her playing with your kid/s. After checking references you are good to go. If ever there are doubts later you can ask questions and gather information from your nanny and children if they are verbal. Or stop by mid day after a brief phone call notifying her you are coming.

Offer trust until it is broken or you will have an unhappy nanny. Unhappy nannies are not going to tend to your children as well as nannies that are trusted and adored.

Your intuition is the better than a nanny cam. Trust me on this. Lindsey


Who gets privacy in the workplace? In most jobs, the boss could walk in at any moment. So I don't see why a nanny would expect privacy when taking care of your baby, and I wouldn't hire anyone who did. Just don't put the nanny cam in the bathroom. And I would tell prospective nannies about the nanny cam when interviewing because I couldn't deal with keeping it a secret, but I would keep the location a secret. Sanon
I can certainly sympathize with your fears about leaving your baby with a stranger. I also have a negative reaction to the idea of a nanny camera. If the situations were reversed and your boss put a camera in your office without telling you it was there, would that make you uncomfortable? It would make me extremely uncomfortable, although I'm not doing anything at work that I should be ashamed of.

I think you would do much better to do a careful interview, do a background check, spend a lot of time with your nanny before you leave your child alone. Let her know that you may occasionally stop in to see how everyone is doing. Before I went back to work when my son was 3 months old, I didn't think I could bear being away from him and the idea that anyone else could take care of him was just awful. I got through it and have had several different caregivers--all of whom have become important people in our lives. I would feel awful if I had violated their trust by filming them. Once you find the right nanny and once you get over the awful transition of having to go back to work, I wonder if you might feel differently about all this. Don't do the camera


To make sure you're not ''invading her privacy,'' you can disclose it to her before hiring (I'd recommend in writing). Tell her you miss your baby (I wanted that in my daughter's preschool, which I loved!). That way she won't do anything that's ''private'' on camera. A straightforward person shouldn't have much of an issue with occasionally being observed at work (she can go to a different room to fix her bra). She will know you won't tolerate abuse or neglect, and won't take the job if she'd rather watch TV all day or let the baby cry. I do have a friend who used a nanny cam to figure out why her twins were so unhappy. To her horror, she found that they were left in their high chairs alone all day (and she eventually found a perfect nanny who her friends raved about whenever they saw her). I think that kind of blatant abuse, which we fear, is rare, but milder forms of neglect or disinterest is common, from what I've observed in local parks. There are also those nannies who think they are better at parenting than you are (not my type, for sure!). I had a great nanny experience w/ a woman I knew well who wasn't looking to be a nanny, who clearly loved my baby (and babies generally). When she moved, I had a horrible experience w/ a nanny who lied to me (though on less serious issues than my friend w/ the nanny cam). I let her go, then realized I would be more comfortable at a daycare with more than one teacher and accountability-and the ability for me to walk in whenever I wanted, which I did once or twice, until I realized that my baby was totally fine, and she stopped crying as soon as I was out of sight. Several teachers tend to self-govern because one caretaker's behavior will be observed by others, and there's usually prescribed activities and standards that will be met.

Having your child cared for by a ''stranger,'' whether a nanny or a daycare provider, is a difficult transition for most moms (not to be sexist, but most men find it less distressing than most women find it). You will get through it, though nothing other than you will be ''perfect'' if you have strong opinions. Don't feed your anxieties but do follow your instincts. A mom's worries are usually a little over the top initially, but you should be comfortable, and try to find the best way to be comfortable and reach agreement w/ your husband. Sell him on whatever you need-nanny cam or daycare. Then take a deep breath.


I am a stay at home mom to a one year old. In college, I worked as both a nanny and in a daycare center. I would strongly suggest that you DO use a nanny cam, and I don't think there is any reason to inform the nanny of your intentions. I have personally witnessed many caregivers in the daycare center who were totally different people when there was a parent in the room versus when there wasn't. These people were educated, ''loved kids'', had ''great'' references, etc., all presumably from people who DID NOT have a nanny cam to see them in action. Several caregivers, while not downright abusive, were really borderline and did things that, had the parents seen their behavior, they would have immediately removed their children from care. These people weren't even shy about being jerks to infants and toddlers in front of me or other co- teachers. This was a ''good'' daycare center, NAEYC accredited, but I would say that I would have never left my kid alone with 1/3 of these people. This is actually why I am a stay at home mom now...pulling my hair out sometimes wanting to go back to work, but confident that my son is being well cared for. Your child is so precious and deserves to have you looking out for his/her best interest. Look at things through his/her eyes. Why would you hire someone you don't trust, as so many posts have written? You wouldn't and you're not going to. But seriously, you can never be too safe when it comes to kids. Before my son was born, I was a child welfare social worker, and I can tell you that kids are abused and neglected all the time by babysitters, nannies, and other caregivers who seem to be very trustworthy. You will never regret making sure that your nanny really is as wonderful as she seems if you use a nanny cam. Plus, they know this comes with the territory... A former nanny and a mom
I'm an internet camera user and I have to weigh in on this issue. My daughter is in a nanny share that has two internet cameras. Our nanny was hired by the other family and was told about the cameras which are out in the open. As far as I know, after over a year of working with our kids, our nanny is fine with the cameras.

I work full time and LOVE having the ability to take a quick look and see what my daughter, her playmate, and the nanny are up to. I've seen some really sweet moments that I'm glad to not have missed. I also like being able to have a sense of the day's activities, such as when my daughter wakes from her nap, when she eats, how she interacts with her playmate, etc.

I also benefited from the window into the care giving in the first month and was able to quickly correct some minor things, such as putting my daughter down for her nap with her bib on. Without the camera, I would have never known about this.

The camera has also reassured me that our nanny's standard of care is fabulous and consistent. She got an iTouch for Christmas and I was a bit worried that the kids wouldn't get as much attention, but this hasn't been the case. Now I love our nanny even more! If there was no camera, I would probably have a lingering worry based on an assumption of our nanny's behavior, not the reality.

The camera we use (Panasonic) has audio, and while you can't record audio or video, you can take still images. Also, you can move the camera remotely. In fact, the other mom is scanning the room right now as I have the screen on!

I have heard of daycare centers that have internet cameras which I think are intended for parents to use as I have--to be able to check in and smile at what your little one is doing when you are at work. The camera helped my initial separation anxiety when my daughter first started care, but now it is really not at all for spying on our nanny, but rather for keeping in touch with my little one during the work day.

I think that the camera should be disclosed to all applicants and they can decide if they are interested in the position. You may lose fabulous potential nannies who are not comfortable with the camera, but you'll find others who are. And, you'll know from watching the care in the first month exactly how fabulous your nanny is! Love our nanny even more because of the internet camera


I disagree with the people who suggest that you hire someone you trust, and that should be sufficient. I have certainly found my trust to be misplaced in the past, and I am sure that will happen again. A background check, references and careful interview are not enough to engender trust in my book. Perhaps some the people who wrote about trusting the nanny are better judges of character than I, but what about the rest of us? Nannies who have been excellent in the past can change. They may have been great with little Suzie but can't handle Patty. There is no way to really know what is going on with your precious child unless you WATCH. If you can't be there, a nanny cam is perfectly legitimate. And I would assume that any nanny that objects to a nanny cam has something to hide. Here is an example of what a ''trusted'' nanny can do: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,338131,00.html. Trust is useless, in my experience. Sanon
I am a nanny, and the thought of being watched feels really icky to me. I do think the parent has the right, but only if they disclose the locations upfront - I found myself on a video, in a room I used to change into my swimsuit. Had they disclosed, I wouldn't have changed clothes there. I felt violated and furious.

Even with disclosure, I admit I would be unhappy in this position and eventually move on. How would you feel sitting in your office, if your employer were looking over your shoulder the entire time? It would creep me out, totally.

I'm not saying you're wrong for wanting to watch. But for me, being watched makes me nervous and less likely to flow and be willing to sing off key, dance poorly or be silly. I would feel the need to be prim and proper, and the children's (and my) day would be much less fun and sweet. It would be regimented and rigid, and I would always worry about measuring up. Yuck.


The post in the last newsletter about disclosure makes a critical point. I don't think this falls in the prohibited category of giving legal advice, but you should read the very recent decision of the California Supreme Court in Hernandez v. Hillsides, Inc.

http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S147552.DOC

(and possibly consult a lawyer) before installing/using a surveillance camera. Anyone currently using one might be well-advised to do the same. Norm


Anyone used a nanny cam?

Sept 2005

Never thought I might need to ask this question..... anyone out there ever used a Nanny Cam? Any advice appreciated. ANON please


We had a nanny cam installed. It's been good because we've had a few different care givers and it's been reassuring to verify that nothing inappropriate is going on.

We had it installed by Reed Brothers Security of Oakland. Not sure I'd recommend them due to major inconveniences (took 4 days for what was supposed to be a 1+ day job), not the greatest of workmanship, and they accidentally drilled a few holes in my roof. We chose them because they were the only ones who responded to my call. It was difficult to find someone who does this type of work. It also wasn't cheap. We got a system that covers a couple of rooms which called for a fair amount of wiring in the basement and attic.

If I had to do in again, I would get another bid for the install. I would get cameras that work better in low light (so you can see what's going on when the window shades are down). I might get more serrupticious cameras (they look like motion detectors and so far that's what we're telling people and so far they believe it). I might get cameras with a wider field of vision (we can't quite see the entire room). I'd change the location of one or two cameras (locate it over the door if you want to see what's going on in the room, locate it facing the door if you want to see who is coming and going. Also, don't install it facing a window because the glare makes it hard to see things.)

There is a place call the Spy Shop in SF that might be a good reference. I've never talked with them, but I vaguely remember reading a story in the Chronicle about them. www.internetspyshop.com Hope this helps.


I personally haven't used a nanny cam but a friend of mine used one when she couldn't understand why her twin babies were so depressed, and she found out some distressing things that made her immediately fire the nanny and quit work for a while. She was really happy she'd done it. I think there was some issue of not being able to use the nanny cam other than for her own personal information in her own house (and something like getting on the camera and noting that), but she was very glad she'd done it. She could only do it in one place, so you'd want to chose a main location.
I don't know your situation nor do i know where to get a nannycam but I do have some insight: As a mom of two young children and a former nanny and childcare worker for 10 plus years who was a whistleblower on abuse in a childcare setting, I feel strongly about this issue of taping caregivers. First, TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. Don't set aside worries you are having about the care of your children, whether it is with paid caregivers or other family. If something doesn't feel right, that is enough PERIOD. Don't let anyone tell you're being paranoid or you're being overprotective. It is your job to protect your children and you do it best.

Second, don't wait to see something on film. Don't be secretive and invade someone else's privacy. Don't wait to have something proven that puts your child at risk or makes you do something that might not be right (like spying on a caregiver who has nothing but love for your child). Don't bother with a camera! If you don't trust your caregiver be straight about it. It is your caregiver's job to build relationships not only with your children but with you as a parent as well. Be diplomatic, say it's not a good match and find someone out there who YOU love and trust as well as your child does. There are so many amazing people who work with kids, don't let yourself feel trapped by work or other issues. It will work itself out.

There is a great book about people (women mostly) talking themselves into being polite instead of trusting their instincts about safety called The Gift Of Fear by Gavin DeBecker. I highly recommend it. I hope you work it out. Rebecca


Having doubts about my nanny - nanny cam?

Dec 2004

My child is 8 months old and is at home with his nanny during the day. She seems to be so perfect when i'm around that i started having my doubts: Is she the same when i am away? Maybe but i'd really like to check it. I thought of borrowing a nanny cam. Does anybody know what places lend a nanny cam?


My only recommendation on this topic: Tell your nanny that you will be watching her if you choose to do this. It is really not fair (and possibly illegal) to film someone without their knowledge. If your instinct tells you something is not right, then something is probably not right. You don't have to secretly film someone to figure that out. A MUCH better way to find out how your nanny is interacting with your child is to spend more time at home while she is there. I highly recommend not creating an environment based on mistrust and spying. It is not in your child's best interest. Trust your gut...
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