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A Complete Guide to Different Childcare Professions

Are you searching for a childcare professional to care for your children while you work? Do you need someone experienced to help out on date nights or on weekends? You know that you want to start looking for childcare help, but you may not know what to look for or choose. Do you need a babysitter? Nanny? Mother’s helper?

There are a variety of childcare professional roles, ranging from temporary or part-time work to live-in options for families. Check out what each role entails below to find the perfect provider to meet your needs, and then contact Preferred ChildCare to get started!


Babysitters are typically hired by the hour to care for children, often after school, on weeknights, or on weekends. Parents hire babysitters on an as-needed basis to supervise their kids, but babysitters may also take on light housekeeping tasks and easy activities like arts and crafts or games. A babysitter usually comes to the family’s home and learns their routine so they can manage things while the parents are out.

Babysitting is usually a part-time, short-term role. Many childcare professionals gain experience in the industry as babysitters. Finding a regular babysitter is often a struggle for families, which is why Preferred ChildCare offers guaranteed babysitting services in the Triad area.


Similar to a babysitter, a nanny’s main duty is to care for children. Whether full-time or part-time, a nanny’s role is more involved. It’s not required, but many nannies have formal education in early education or child development. Some may even get degrees in these areas. Nannies will usually have more experience and safety training than a babysitter, too.

Nannies are perfect if you need someone to watch kids for several hours a day, pick them up and drop them off at school or activities, help with homework, or take charge of errands and other household duties for the family. There are some specialized nanny roles, like summer nannies, who care for children on a temporary basis over the summer.

Mother’s helper

A mother’s helper is often a misunderstood role. While some may refer to a mother’s helper as someone who comes in to help a new mother after giving birth, mother’s helpers are actually young childcare providers who are still gaining experience and work as a “second set of hands” for moms and families. 

Some babysitters begin as mother’s helpers while they’re young to gain more experience with children while still being supervised. Mother’s helpers watch children during the day while parents are present, and help multiple-children families keep everyone entertained.

Au pair

An au pair is a childcare professional who lives with a family and cares for their child(ren). Traditionally, au pairs are from a different country; students often travel overseas and find work caring for kids. In some cases, they get college credit for their work, or they may want a work visa that allows them to stay abroad for a year.

An au pair’s duties and number of hours vary depending on the needs of the family. They typically focus on childcare, and sometimes also cook, clean, or run errands. In the U.S., the host family covers salary, accommodations, and food in exchange for a set number of childcare hours. 

Newborn care specialist

A newborn care specialist, also called a night nanny or baby nurse, is a specialized childcare professional who focuses on caring for newborns and helping new parents adjust to their role. Newborn care specialists usually work night shifts to allow parents to rest. 

Many newborn care specialists are trained and experienced in baby sleep techniques and infant nutrition. Their duties include feeding, sleep training, diaper changing, bathing, helping with breastfeeding, and educating parents on newborn care.

Group childcare

Also called home daycare or family daycare, group childcare is provided in someone else’s home. Group childcare can be less expensive than a daycare center and more conveniently located for families. 

Group childcare facilities often have fewer children in their care at once, which may suit parents and children looking for more individualized attention than a daycare center. A home setting may also help kids feel more comfortable transitioning into public facilities like daycare, pre-K, or elementary school.

Find help with Preferred ChildCare

Now that you know the differences between childcare professions, are you ready to begin your search? Let Preferred ChildCare help! We’re a childcare placement agency in the Triad area that offers services for all your family’s needs. Look through our list of childcare services and areas we serve. Contact Preferred ChildCare to get started!

For more tips on working with nannies as a parent, follow the Preferred ChildCare blog!

Let us find your perfect nanny.


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