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A nanny is a trained professional who look’s after your children in your home, and hiring one can be expensive — you’re paying the person’s income. Some nannies look after multiple children in one house, so you can team up with friends and split the cost.

Make sure you go with a reputable agency that has done all the necessary checks on the nanny and can guarantee your nanny has qualifications, knows basic first aid, and has been vetted by the police. If in doubt, ask to see your prospective nanny’s paperwork.

Most importantly, check references. A written contract is the most professional way to ensure that you and your nanny are on the same page about her duties, her pay, her use of a car, and other issues that may arise. If you have specific requests, for example, that she take your baby to the park daily, put it in the contract. You can’t argue with a signe document!

Hiring a nanny can be complex, especially if you’re providing a room for her to live in and paying her healthcare insurance. You’ll need to keep good records so you can properly file paperwork at tax time. A nanny can cost between $16 to $20 per hour, plus fees to the agency who places her. Live-in nannies are paid slightly less, because you’re supplying them with room and board.

Some agencies can also provide nannies from abroad (in some cases they’re referred to as au pairs). This may be a good way to expose your child to another language. However, au pairs usually stay with you for only up to 12 months.

While nannies are experienced caregivers, make sure you leave special instructions about your baby and the house. Also, nannies aren’t maids, so don’t expect them to do your washing and cleaning or to look after your household at the same time.

When choosing a nanny, interview the person with your baby there, and see how they interact together. The nanny should spend more time chatting and playing with the child than talking to you.