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Getting an au pair full time for a baby?

(20 Posts)
felixfelicis1 Wed 27-Jul-11 13:49:46

I know that the usual format of having an au pair is that they can only be used for older children and for a certain number of hours. However, I have read in some places that you can find au pairs that are experienced and qualified to look after small babies and can work longer hours (if paid appropriately of course). An au pair is looking like the cheapest option for us at the moment as I don't have that long for maternity leave.

Has anyone else had an au pair full time for a small baby?

minipie Wed 27-Jul-11 14:03:46

An experienced and qualified au pair sounds like a nanny to me, so I'd have thought they'd expect to be paid more like a nanny.

What about an inexperienced (ie first time) nanny? Obviously more of a risk as no references but you could find a gem and they're usually much cheaper.

felixfelicis1 Wed 27-Jul-11 14:07:50

But the difference of an au pair is that they are getting somewhere to live so therefore they are paid a lot less than a nanny.

I would be open to an inexperienced nanny. Would be a good idea if I could find someone wonderful.

minipie Wed 27-Jul-11 14:19:34

Sounds like you want a live in nanny then? Live in nannies are paid less than live out nannies (but still more than an au pair usually depending on experience).

You could also consider a nannyshare with another family (i.e. nanny looks after both children together), or a nanny who is a mum and looks after her child with your child? Both would reduce the costs a lot.

Ripeberry Wed 27-Jul-11 14:20:52

It amazes me that you are more worried about cost and not thinking about finding someone who is safe and capable to look after your precious child?

felixfelicis1 Wed 27-Jul-11 14:23:20

Ripeberry I think you are being a little unfair. Did you not read my first post that 'I have read that you can find experienced and qualified au pairs'. That is obviously my absolute foremost concern. I didn't think it was necessary to hammer this home.

felixfelicis1 Wed 27-Jul-11 14:28:56

To be clear to anyone else - I would never in a million years opt for a cheap option unless I 100% trusted the person and felt really confident that my son would be in the best possible hands. It amazes me that there are people on here are always so quick to judge. Surely we are all on mumsnet because we care enormously about our children and thus are wanting to ask lots of questions and find out information so we can do what's best for our children?

minipie Wed 27-Jul-11 14:30:40

Felix as far as I'm aware au pair generally by definition means not qualified and not full time... which is why I said that an experienced and qualified 'au pair' would be called a nanny (and would be paid the same as a nanny).

I think ripe was a little harsh and I can see you are just trying to see what you are able to afford. But realistically if you could get someone full time, experienced and qualified for less money than a nanny, then surely everyone would do it! I don't think you can, unless you go the nannyshare route.

Strix Wed 27-Jul-11 14:34:24

We have an "au pair" who looks after a baby (sole charge). She is more like a nanny, really. There is a big shade of grey in the transition of au pair to nanny. Think about what qualifications and experience you want him/her to have and, of course, how much you are prepared to pay. And don't worry so much about the job title.

Obviously, with a baby involved, you want someone who knows something about babies (routines, changing them, first aid, a bit of patience, and so on). But, in my opinion, you don't need a proper British nanny qualification to posess these traits.

I have had several entry level nannies who were, before being employed by me, au pairs. Has worked very well.

felixfelicis1 Wed 27-Jul-11 14:34:48

Thanks minipie. That's why I was asking the question. I have seen websites that recommend au pairs who are experienced and qualified but are looking for places to live in England (i.e. have been nannies before in their own countries etc). Some people would not be able to go down this route as they would not have space to have an au pair (therefore subsidising her cost with lodgings). We are fortunate and do have this space so I just wanted to see if anyone had had any experience with this.

minipie Wed 27-Jul-11 14:47:50

An I understand. I would have called a person like that a "foreign live in nanny" i.e. whose experience and qualifications are all from abroad. I wouldn't have called them an au pair, but clearly as Strix says the terminology is flexible.

minipie Wed 27-Jul-11 15:55:20

Ah not an obviously

fraktious Wed 27-Jul-11 16:02:55

I also call that a live in nanny - regardless of their experience or qualifications it is the job they do. It doesn't matter if you have a Brit with no experience and a childcare diploma, an Aussie with 1 year experience at home, a German with 5 years experience and qualified as a Kindergarten teacher - if they are working sole charge forong hours that is a nanny.

An au pair used to refer to someone doing quite a tightly defined job however it has come to mean a foreign live in part time nanny. By definition an au pair job is not full time - however you can indeed get relatively well qualified/experienced candidates who may be looking to be an au pair for linguistic/cultural reasons willing to take in a nanny job.

As strix says there is a very large grey area.

I had applications from several newly qualified inexperienced nannies who were lovely. My motivation wasn't cost (it's more an age thing!) but they were mostly lovely, sounded very competent and I was satisfied with their childcare abilities, we just didn't click on a personal level.

dikkertjedap Fri 29-Jul-11 01:15:16

An older child can tell you if something is wrong, a baby cannot. Au pairs are usually young girls (up to about 25 years), who are looking for a cheap way to explore UK and improve their English. Many will have some experience looking after siblings but that is quite different from having sole charge of a baby. I WOULD NEVER PUT AN AU PAIR IN CHARGE OF A BABY, there might be exceptions, but the majority is too young, lacks life experience, might not know how to handle in an emergency in what is for them a foreign country. There is a big difference between young mothers and an au pair, the baby is not the au pairs and she is unlikely to feel the bond a mother feels. I would either look for a childminder or a live-in nanny, but really would not consider an au pair. You cannot find out whether an au pair is up to it or not through an interview, you only find out on the job, just too risky and this is why BAPAA and IATA au pair agencies are not allowed to place au pairs to look after children younger than 3.

harrietthespook Fri 29-Jul-11 15:07:37

Felix
How many hours will you need the au pair to work exactly? How old will the DC be?

I am going to make a couple of presumptions here which may be wrong. I have been in a panicky situation over costs too, so I understand where you are coming from and not looking to judge!

The "headline rate" (£70-100 p/w for 25-35 hrs) you see quoted for au pairs in various places should be treated with caution. The 35 hours is supposedly for 'au pair pluses.' In reality I don't know many au pairs who work this much even though they are classed as AP pluses. FOr those who do - the hours include low maintenance house keeping, pick ups from school, or being in the house when older children are essentially looking after themselves/doing homework or perhpas evening babysitting when the children are asleep. This is very different from one on one time with a baby over the same period of time. YOu might find someone accepts the job at an 'enhanced' rate - plucking a figure out, say £120 p/w - but doesn't stay very long once they realise how demanding it is, or doesn't speak very good English at all, or has other noteworthy limitations.

Once you are getting up to the £140-150 mark...with the tax on top you will need to pay and the food etc... you will be financially better off with a childminder. And you will feel more confident, by some margin, that a young baby is in secure hands.

We were planning to use a combination au pair and nursery when I went back to work after DD2. The au pair would have been with the girls for about 3 hours per day and DD2 would have been nine months. Once she turned up...no way...we were very fortunate to find a nanny share who could do those hours for us. We might have found someone better, but I decided I couldn't risk if for a baby that young. We have an au pair now but she is supervised. My youngest DD is just getting to the age (3) where I would consider only an au pair but...I have to tell you...if they've got bad judgement they're a risk however old the child is...

You may find someone fantastic - you may well do. But I have met many many more flakey potential APs than nannies AND more importantly - this is not their profession. They don't have bills to pay and their future in childcare to consider. So the motivation to continue with your family isn't there in the same way in many cases.

Migsy1 Mon 08-Aug-11 13:15:06

As someone has already mentioned, au pairs should not be placed to be in sole charge of a child under 3. Personally, I have not heard of any "experienced" au pairs that are able to do this. HarriettheSpook is right -you do not know how they will be when they turn up. I'm having a problem with mine at the moment but luckily my children are 5, 8 and 10 and are quite independent. I'm afraid that any suggestion of an au pair looking after a baby reminds me of the Louise Woodward case.

I'm sure there must be something out there that fits your needs but I don't think it would be an au pair. You could always phone an agency to check as some agencies deal with various forms of childcare/help.

Good luck

sunnydelight Tue 09-Aug-11 08:57:10

You might well find a nanny who used to be an au pair, but if you are paying au pair wages that is probably exactly what you will get - a young person who is in England to improve their English and have a good time. Most accept gracefully that in order to do that they have to do some childcare and housework. No way should they be considered appropriate sole carers of babies. I used to work in a language school in London and delightful as most of the au-pair students were, I wouldn't have left them in sole charge of my dog!

ChitChattingagain Tue 09-Aug-11 09:43:52

I had an au pair for an 18 month old and a 4 year old who had worked in a kindergarden in her home country and who came with a good reference (supervised, not under sole care) - it lasted 3 weeks.

Everything everyone says is correct. SHE thought she was great with children, SHE thought she was responsible - SHE was utterly useless and was oblivious to my DS2 running out onto the road while I was in the house closing up the windows getting us ready to leave. As hard as it is to interview someone face to face, via email or skype is even worse. You cannot know how good they really are.

You really should consider the child minder route. The hourly rate is lower than it would be for a nanny as you only have 1 child.

StillSquiffy Tue 09-Aug-11 13:25:19

there are plenty of people who started out as au pairs and who will be great lookign after a newborn. they may call themselves au pairs or they may call themselves nannies. If they are good they will charge at least £150+ and if they are certain that their status as a proper nanny is an absolute given they will charge more than £250 (live-in). when you add tax on top of this you are in the realms of nursery/childminder costs (although this will probably still be the cheapest option if you have more than one child)

Any experienced au pair who is happy to be working for £100 or thereabouts will be experienced at picking the kids up from school, babysitting, and helping with the ironing. I doubt that you will find anyone able and willing to look after a baby for a standard AP salary (unless perhaps they are illegal and don't have a visa)

JinxyCat Tue 09-Aug-11 17:20:50

felixfelicis1 We got an British ex-nursery worker who wanted to make the transition to being a nanny from au-pair-world.net, who was live in that we paid £150 a week (net, about £160 gross) while I was at home looking for work and doing shared care - and then £225 a week (net, about £280 gross) after I found work (yes, I did think that wasn't a great salary, but she was very happy with it and we would have gone higher if she'd have pushed/asked for more).

She was very good, had experience with children, and was happy for a reduced wage for the 50 hours we wanted her to work as she was building up experience.

She stayed with us for 10 months, and had sole charge of my 1 year old from when I started work. We trusted her implicitly, and she had the paediatric first aid certificate and some Early Childhood qualifications (she was studying for her level 3 NVQ while she was with us)

In retrospect, there were some minor issues (she did struggle with not having 'breaks' like she had at nursery, living in with her employer was tough) - but was balanced out by the cost issues for us.

If we did it again - I would probably pay an equivalent person more (as when she found out that she could get paid more with another family, she left - v. annoying as I was planning to give her a payrise to £300 a week when we hit a year and renegotiated the contract, but hadn't mentioned it to her before she started looking); and then the change to £350 (net, £500 gross) wouldn't have been such a massive shock to the system!

So, rather long post just to say that getting an inexperienced nanny can sometimes be cost effective too - if you have the room in your house!

PS we live in London and our inexperienced nanny did four days (three full, two afternoons - while our son was in nursery) and our experienced once (Norland) does five full days - both 8am-6.30pm.

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