How many children can a nanny look after?

The question of how many children a nanny can look after depends on many factors, meaning there is no single answer. Here, the childcare experts at Nannies Matter will explain how many children a nanny can look after according to the legal considerations, and explain how to find an appropriate balance within your work that will ensure that children are benefiting from your full care and attention.

What is the typical number of children a nanny can care for simultaneously?

Usually, nannies can care for between one and four children simultaneously, but this may vary depending on several factors, including the ages of the children, the nanny's experience and any specific needs the children may have. Some nannies may be comfortable with more children, especially if they have specialised training or experience in group childcare settings.

Unlike nannies, childminders can look after a maximum of six children at once. A maximum of three of these children can be under five years old, and a maximum of one child per childminder can be a baby. This is because research shows that children respond better to the care of an adult who can be focused and attentive to their needs, both in terms of their early education and in the relationships they form with their carers.

Is there a limit on how many children a nanny can look after?

Legally, a nanny can only take care of the children of two families at any one time, at the home of one of the families. If more than two families are using your services at the same time, you will be considered a childminder rather than a nanny, and will have to register with Ofsted. Nannies can also register with Ofsted, which may enable parents to gain financial assistance with the costs of childcare, but there is no legal requirement to do so.

However, while there are limits for childminders and for the number of families that can use a nanny’s services, there is no official legal limit on the number of children that one nanny can care for at a time. This is because nannies are usually expected to deliver more focused care to the children of one or two families than childminders - they may live on the same premises as the children, for example, and can work up to five days per week for up to ten hours per day to provide dedicated care.

Nannies (especially live-in nannies) will often undertake housekeeping or other duties in addition to their childcare responsibilities, which ensures that they offer value for money to their clients. Alternatively, childminders will usually work in their own homes, and because parents usually prefer part-time care for their children, they will work shorter hours than nannies.

While there are no legal limits on the number of children a nanny can supervise, there are practical considerations - younger children will often need much more careful supervision than older children, for example. How many children an individual can supervise effectively will usually depend on the individual level of skill, experience and confidence of the nanny in question.

Nannies have certain childcare responsibilities under the early years foundation stage (EYFS) statutory framework, and so if you are a nanny trying to determine how many children is too many to take proper care of, you should consider this in light of the responsibilities you need to fulfil. 

Can a nanny care for infants and older children simultaneously?

A nanny can care for infants and older children simultaneously, but the nanny should be skilled in providing age-appropriate care, which can be quite different for infants compared to older children.

The ability to multitask effectively is vital when caring for children of different ages with varying needs. Safety measures should be in place to ensure that the older children's activities do not pose a risk to the infant. For example, small toys that are suitable for older children but pose a choking hazard for infants should be kept out of reach. The nanny should be capable of planning activities that are suitable for all age groups, or be able to engage the older children in activities while the infant is napping, for example.

Caring for children of different ages can be more demanding, requiring extra patience and energy from the nanny. Clear communication with parents is essential to understand the expectations and specific needs of each child. However, if a nanny has the qualifications, experience and skills to manage the complexities of caring for infants and older children simultaneously, it can be a workable and rewarding arrangement.

Should nannies charge extra for caring for additional children?

It's common for nannies to charge a higher rate when caring for additional children, although this is not a universal rule and can vary depending on the agreement between the nanny and the family. The rationale behind charging extra is that caring for more children involves more work, greater responsibility, and often requires a higher level of skill and experience.

When negotiating a contract or payment terms, it's important for both parties to discuss and agree upon any additional charges for extra children. This should be clearly outlined in the employment contract to avoid any misunderstandings later on. Some nannies may have a set rate for one child, and then an additional hourly or daily rate for each additional child. Others may offer a "family rate" that covers all children, but is higher than the rate for a single child.

Both the family and the nanny should consider the complexity of care required. For example, caring for multiple infants or children with special needs may warrant a higher rate, due to the increased demands and responsibilities involved.

In summary, while it's common for nannies to charge extra for additional children, the specifics should be mutually agreed upon and clearly documented in the employment contract.

What qualifications and experience should a nanny have to care for multiple children?

When it comes to caring for multiple children, qualifications and experience become particularly important. Here are some key qualifications and experience to look for:

  • Childcare qualifications: while not necessary, a professional nanny should ideally have formal childcare qualifications.
  • First aid certification: being able to administer first aid can be vital, especially when caring for multiple children, as emergencies can happen and the results can be disastrous if not dealt with correctly.
  • Experience: previous experience in caring for multiple children is highly beneficial. This could be experience gained in a nursery, as a teacher, or in a previous nanny role where multiple children were cared for.
  • Specialised training: if the children have special needs or require specific care, additional training or qualifications in that area are advisable.
  • References: strong references from previous employers who had multiple children can provide valuable insights into the nanny's capabilities.

To learn more about what can make a nanny more valuable and qualified, read our guide here.

Contact us

If you feel that you have what it takes to provide high-quality childcare, you may not need any qualifications to start a career as a professional nanny. You can browse our current job listings for opportunities, call us on 0800 121 4881, or fill in the contact form on this page to get in touch.

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