How to interview your confinement nanny

Finding a confinement nanny is not an easy task as this is not a profession that is very common in Singapore but highly in demand. Many turn to an agency to hire a confinement lady or use their contacts to hire a nanny from nearby Malaysia. However, there are a number of risks involved, especially if you’ve never met the person. Given the expense and the commitment involved, it’s best to at least conduct at least a phone interview with the confinement nanny of your choice, if not an in-person meet up.

To make sure you’re bringing the right person into your home that will help you get through confinement, make a list of interview questions you want to ask. Start with these six:

1. “How many years of experience do you have as a confinement lady?”

The more experienced your confinement nanny is, the better. However, just note that unless she is personally recommended to you by someone you know who has used her services, you won’t know what she is like at all. If you do not have a personal recommendation, ask for previous clients that you can call for references to ensure you’ll be happy with her services.

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2. “What kinds of food will you prepare during the confinement period?”

You should ask how many meals your confinement nanny will prepare a day, and whether this food is for you only, or for your husband and other children too. Find out what variety of dishes she knows how to cook and if she is prepared to cook something different everyday so you don’t get bored. Also ask if she will prepare snacks between meals if you get hungry.

3.  “What are your preferences in terms of shopping for herbs or groceries?”

It is tempting to let your confinement nanny take care of everything from buying the herbs to the groceries. However, you may find yourself paying a hefty bill for them later on. Some confinement nannies get commissions from buying herbs from certain retailers, and may not be getting you the best price. To be cautious, it is better you source for your own herbs. If you wish her to do the groceries, establish a firm budget with her.

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3. “What kind of household chores can you carry out?”

Different confinement nannies will carry out different types of household chores. At most basic, they will typically clean up the kitchen after cooking, do the laundry and do simple sweeping or mopping. Don’t expect anything intensive, as she is not your domestic helper.

4. “How do you handle the baby? Is she familiar with breastfeeding?”

You can get an idea on how your confinement nanny cares for a baby by asking her questions like how she handles the umbilical cord, bathes, burps and soothes the baby. If you are breastfeeding, be sure to hire a nanny who is pro-breastfeeding and who is knowledgeable about it. The last thing you want is a nanny nagging at you to formula feed when you have problems producing milk.

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5. “Where will you sleep and who will sleep with the baby?”

Most confinement nannies understand that space is limited in Singaporean homes and are okay with sleeping on a mattress on a floor, although a bed is preferable. Usually, they sleep with the baby, but if you are breastfeeding, you would want the baby with you so you can breastfeed during the night.

6. “Do you have extra charges for peak periods, other services?  Do you have an early dismissal fee?”

Be sure to discuss all fee related questions during your interview to avoid surprises. If you want any extra services, e.g. babysitting an older child, this is the time to negotiate an extra fee for it. The question about early dismissal may be awkward but it is important. While you can send an agency nanny back for replacement with no charge, a confinement nanny you hire independently will expect to be compensated for her loss of income.

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