Nanny Confessions: Be Honest When Your Child Is Sick

How Many Paid Sick Days Do You Get Each Year?

By Elizabeth Hawksworth

I have had a bad tooth infection this week and it reminds me of all the times I have looked after children when I felt under the weather. I always let my employers know if I am really sick because I might expose their children to illness and being sick can affect the way I care for their children. But, parents seldom offer me the same courtesy. While parents are often stressed-out and worried about making sure their sick kids get the care they require, they usually don’t care if their nannies are sick.

My nanny confession this week is that parents should be upfront about their children’s illnesses before making their nannies come to work. Sick children expose nannies to illnesses that could cause them to miss work.

It’s inevitable that nannies will get sick during the year. That’s why an allotted number of paid sick days should be included in nanny work agreements.

Parents and nannies should keep all emergency contact numbers, health insurance cards, prescription cards, and emergency release forms in a central place in the home (such as in the kitchen and near the phone) in case of emergency. Parents should sign Authorization to Treat a Minor Consent Forms which provides caregivers written permission allowing them to seek treatment, to authorize treatment, and to discuss treatment with health care providers. Click here to download an Authorization to Treat a Minor Consent Form. Parents will need a signature from a notary public to make the document legal.

Nannies need to know all pertinent details about the child’s illness – when it started, the symptoms, and any symptoms to look for so they can describe the illness to the pediatrician. Before administrating any prescription medication to children, caregivers must assess the child’s needs: know what medications to give, why the child needs it, how to contact the professional that is prescribing it, when to give it, how to store it, and where to refill it. Nannies and parents should record when they give medication to children to ensure sick kids are not over-medicated.

Parents need to inform their nannies and children about the household rules when their children are sick such as no playing outside and how much TV privileges they will be allowed.

I urge parents not to gloss over their child’s illness or underestimate about how seriously ill they may be. Being honest and truthful about how sick a child is ensures they will receive the best of care.

What are your go-to remedies for colds, flus, and tummy bugs? Are the parents you work for upfront and honest about their children’s illnesses when you nanny?


  1. I just think the parents are anxious to get to work. I don't think they want their nanny sick they just have to work.

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