Berkeley Parents Network >
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
I am pretty sure video taping someone without their knowledge is
If you mistrust this woman (or nannies in general) so much maybe a
center would be a better fit for your family.
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
does her job. Just an idea.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
(and possibly consult a lawyer) before installing/using a
surveillance camera. Anyone currently using one might be
well-advised to do the same.
Never thought I might need to ask this question..... anyone out
there ever used a Nanny Cam? Any advice appreciated.
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
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.
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.
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...
this page was last updated: Sep 6, 2009
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website during
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network