Creative Nanny Cam disguise ideas…

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By Alina Bradford

In photography, the best way to get candid footage is to film someone who doesn’t know they are being filmed. The same is true for filming with a nanny cam. The best way to get the most truthful footage is by hiding the fact that you are filming the person. The key to hiding your camera is with a great disguise. There is no need to make your own, though. Some of the most high-tech cameras on the market come with their own disguises. All you have to do is choose which one works best for your home.

One of the most common disguises for hidden cameras is the alarm clock. In fact, the cameras with the most features and highest resolution tend to be hidden in some form of clock. The lens of the camera peeks through the front of the clock, but is cleverly hidden by the plastic casing.

If you want to do your monitoring in a bedroom, this is one of the best camera disguises. Of course, it may stick out in a baby or toddler’s room, because they really don’t have any use for an alarm clock, do they? For rooms with younger children, it would be best to choose another camouflage idea.

IPod Speakers
The iPod speakers camera is one disguise that would work in a baby’s room or any room in the house. They are usually a fully functioning iPod dock and speakers, so if the nanny decides to turn on some music, her suspicions won’t be raised when the dock doesn’t work. For the thrifty consumer, the duel-function of this type of hidden camera just may justify the expense of buying a camera to spy on your nanny.

Electric Outlet and Motion Detectors
Electric outlet and motion-detector disguises mount to the wall and look very inconspicuous. Most people don’t get up close and personal with a wall outlet or a motion detector, so there wouldn’t be any chance of them finding the camera.

The only downside is that the camera would be at plug height, which is normally a few feet off the ground. This means you’ll get a lot of footage of knees or buttocks. This may not be helpful in your quest for damming footage.

For the most effectiveness, make sure that the outlet or the motion detector actually works. If a nanny tries to plug something in or sees that the motion detector doesn’t come on when she passes by, that may raise her suspicions. Even worse, she may just throw the non-functioning item away.

Smoke Detector
In many areas, it is against the law not to have a smoke detector. So, a camera masked by a smoke detector cover wouldn’t be too suspicious. The only problem with this disguise is that these types of camera usually don’t work as functioning smoke detectors. This means that you’ll have two smoke detectors in the same room, which would look suspicious to anyone on the lookout for surveillance items.

On the other hand, smoke detector cameras are installed high on the wall, giving you bird’s-eye-view footage of the room.

The key to a good nanny cam disguise is finding one that has dual-functions and fits in seamlessly with its environment. Hopefully, this list has given you some good ideas for nanny cam disguises in your home.

Less people qualifying for live in caregiver program…

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To those in the industry, the confirmation that there are less people entering the Live-In Caregiver program is not a surprise, but Immigration Minister Jason Kenney disclosed this information in an article recently posted here on

The government also is expecting a decline in the number of people who come to Canada as part of the live-in caregiver program “because fewer people are qualifying,” he said.

The overall point of the article is to stress the positive moves the Conservative government is making to shape the type of immigrants that Canada welcomes.  However, we are still seeing a vital, urgent and necessary need for child care solutions in Canada ignored.


In fact, we’ve found that families are being denied access to sponsorship for trivial reasons and are generally being given the run-around by Service Canada.

One thing for sure is that the demand for Live-In Caregivers has not decreased.  Agencies represented by the Association of Caregiver and Nanny Agencies Canada (ACNA) still report that the demand is far outweighing the supply of locally available candidates.  Overseas sponsorship is becoming even less of an option to fill the lack of labour already in Canada because of timelines that typically double the posted processing times on Citizenship and Immigration’s website.

It can also be argued that maybe caregiver from outside of the country are choosing other places to go in the world because of the dysfunctional nature of the Canadian Live-In Caregiver program.  Once finished a 24 month program (required to be completed within 48 months), there are currently 36 months of processing to finalize Permanent Residency, and even more time if they are sponsoring family members.  You read that right: it takes 3 years of processing after completing a two year program here.

Despite backlash from caregiver groups and advocated, culminating in a large meeting in Mississauga, Ontario earlier this year, the government has broken promises and ignored the community it relied upon for support in the last Federal election.

Canadian families feel they are also being ignored when the need for these caregivers is absolutely crucial and their government representatives are doing nothing to ensure that supply meets the demand.

Child proofing…how do I do it?

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One of the most important Nanny responsibilities is to make sure your charge is in a safe environment. One method used to accomplish this is by childproofing. The following checklist is meant to be a general guide for you to follow when childproofing.

Each home situation is different, and Nannies should be flexible when approaching the family in this matter.  Not every family will want to remove furniture with sharp edges when their infant begins to be mobile, just as every family may not use a bouncy seat or swing.  If you are in a Nanny position with a first-born infant, the new parents may not know all they need to childproof their home.  In this case, it is suggested that you approach the family with your ideas, presenting them in a gentle, informative way. They will appreciate you for your guidance and concern.

Checklist for Children from Birth to 4 years

In every room:

  • Child-resistant electrical outlet covers.
  • Curtain or blind cords should not hang where your charge can reach them. Shorten them or pull them higher.
  • Have smoke alarms outside every bedroom, and on each floor of the house.
  • Keep baby belted when in a bouncy seat, swing or high chair.
  • Keep all furniture away from windows—children love to climb.
  • If possible, use corner bumpers on furniture and fireplace hearth edges.
  • Be aware of the houseplants, in case your charge decides they are food to eat. Many houseplants are poisonous when ingested (See further information in the Poison Prevention module)
  • Remove the plastic end caps on doorstops or replace them with a one-piece design to prevent choking.
  • Ask parents to keep guns and ammunition safely locked away.
  • Keep cigarettes, matches and lighters out of children’s reach


  • Keep chairs and stools away from counters and the stove. Again, children love to climb, and can be harmed on the stove or perhaps find sharp knives on the counter.
  • Install child-resistant safety latches on cabinets where cleaning supplies and plastic bags are kept. There are magnetic ones available, with a ‘key’, that are quite effective. The ‘key’, which is simply a magnet that unlocks the latch, can be put up high on the refrigerator when not being used.
  • Keep knives well away from children’s reach.
  • Never leave cooking food unattended.
  • To avoid fires, have any frayed electrical cords replaced.


  • Install a child-resistant lock or latch on the medicine cabinet.
  • Keep all vitamins, supplements and medicines in the locked medicine cabinet. Small children are curious about every bottle. Buy child-resistant bottles when possible.
  • Check to be sure that the household water temperature is at or below 120 degrees, to avoid scalding. Always test the water before bathing your charge.
  • There are many non-stick appliqués available in stores, to be placed in a bathtub.
  • Never leave a young child alone in the bathroom.
  • Use electrical appliances (hair dryers, etc.) carefully around water.


  • Store tools, lawn and garden supplies and equipment in a locked closet or shed.
  • Avoid mowing the yard with a power mower when young children are present.
  • Keep children away from a chemically treated lawn for at least a day.
  • Be aware of any poisonous trees or plants in the yard, such as poison oak or ivy.
  • Families with swimming pools should have a fence separating the pool from the house. A childproof gate is also recommended, or is even prescribed by law in some locales. Never leave a child unattended in the pool or in a yard with a pool. There are alarms and whole systems available for pool owners, that can alert you if a door or gate leading to the pool is opened.
  • Never leave a barbecue grill unattended. And warn children to keep a safe distance from it when in use.

Nursery/Child’s Room:

  • The crib should be away from all drapery, windows and electrical cords.
    • The crib should meet the standards for slat-width: no more than 2 3/8 inches between them. Most new cribs today meet or exceed these guidelines.
  • Crib sheets should fit snugly, and bottom sheets only.
    • A firm bumper is preferred, with at least 6 ties. The ties should be no longer than 6 inches to prevent strangulation.
    • The crib mattress should be firm, and tight fitting in the crib. No spaces where baby can get trapped!
      • Be sure all hardware supporting the crib has not disengaged or become loose, thus endangering the baby.
      • Once your charge can reach the mobile or any hanging toys, they should be removed.
      • Children under 1 year should sleep on their backs. (See further information in Back to Sleep/SIDS Awareness)
      • If you use a night-light, it should be placed at least 3 feet away from the crib or bed.
      • Never leave baby unattended on a changing table. Even when bending to put a soiled diaper away or reaching for a fresh diaper, keep one hand on your charge.
      • Use side rails on beds for children making the change to a ‘big’ bed.
      • When children’s bedrooms are not on the ground floor, be sure to have a fire escape ladder in each room.
  • Know the fire evacuation plan. Review and practice it often with the family.

Checklist for Children 4 to 8 years old

Nannies don’t just care for infants and toddlers. Charges ages 4 to 8 are still not mature enough to use good judgment, so don’t assume you no longer need to supervise them closely. Here are a few guidelines for childproofing for older children:

  • Make bathtime safe. We know not to leave babies and toddlers alone in the tub, but many children bathe alone after 4. Experts stress that you need to be near them and be sure the water temperature is set to a maximum of 120 degrees. At this age, they are able to turn the water on and off, and need to be taught about scalding hot water.
  • Kids this age can still tumble out windows! They may also be curious about an overhang outside the windows. Keep beds and chairs away from windows. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends windows not be open more than 4 inches. There are guards and locks available to implement this safety guideline.
  • Exercise caution. Kids can get their fingers caught in exercise equipment, and free weights can drop on their toes. Warn your charge of the dangers, but the best bet is to keep the equipment in a room that is officially off-limits.
  • Children often can’t tell if they are playing too roughly with a pet. Even the most docile pet can bite if provoked. Supervision is recommended, indoors or outside.
  • Children under 10 do not have the cognitive ability to judge the speed and distance of oncoming traffic. They still lack self-control. If an ice cream truck is across the street, your charge might run to it without remembering to look both ways. Watch at all times when they are near a street.
  • Make it a house rule that children never light the stove, turn on the oven or use the microwave without an adult in the room. Unplug small appliances and coil the cords out of sight. Outlet covers are child-resistant, not childproof. There is no substitute for supervision!
  • Young children can strike matches before you expect them to, so make sure they are locked up and out of reach. A lesson or two on fire safety is not a bad idea, either.
  • Continue to store cleaning solutions, batteries, medications and other hazardous materials out of the children’s reach.
  • As much as is possible, secure high dressers and bookcases to the wall and teach your charge never to climb on furniture at a very early age.

At this age, your warnings and lessons may fall on deaf ears.  The key with children is consistency and repetition.  Make your Safety Lessons stick by offering explanations of the dangers. Work warnings into your daily routines. If you’re putting away medication, remind your charge of the danger if he or she takes too much or the wrong kind and that only an adult may give it. If you are lighting the grill, tell them that matches start fires that hurt people. Your charge won’t adopt safe habits overnight. You have to let it happen gradually, naturally. For instance, your charge may not yet be allowed to cross the street alone, but he or she may be ready to cross without holding your hand or with you just watching.

7 tips for hiring a nanny…

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It is not unusual for a family with two breadwinners to consider hiring a nanny. You don’t have to be a millionaire to be able to afford one either. The amount of work that your nanny does as well as whether she lives at your home will determine the salary that she is paid. If you are new to this territory, here are seven tips to get your from thinking about a nanny to actually employing one in your home.

1) Determine what you can afford. Call local nanny agencies or talk with neighbors that already employ them to find out what the going salary rate is. Remember that you will have to include paying health insurance and taxes as well. The total cost should not exceed 35 percent of your pre-tax salary.

2) Determine what your family wants in a caregiver. Do you want someone full time or just during the hours you are at work? Should the person be a non-smoker and a licensed driver? These are basic needs that should be addressed when you start looking for a nanny.

3) Start looking for candidates. If you are unsure about how to hire a nanny consider hiring one from an agency. A good bet is to find an agency that is affiliated with the International Nanny Association. Be prepared to pay an application fee as well as a placement fee (usually ten percent of the nanny’s salary).

4) Interview the prospective candidates. This may be the most daunting of all of the tasks. You can conduct the first interview by phone. Be sure to ask the most important question of all to avoid problems later, which is, “are you legally permitted to work in the U.S.?” On the second interview invite the candidate to your home and see how they interact with your children. You may even consider paying the nanny to work with you for a week to see how well everyone gets along before hiring them on permanently.

5) Check references completely. The person you are hiring is going to be alone with your child and will be responsible for their welfare. You don’t want just anyone taking care of your most precious possession! Call all references regardless of whether the agency has done so. Speak to the candidate’s last two employers. If you can’t reach anyone or if the references don’t want to talk, it may be a sign that her past employers weren’t too happy with her work.

6) Draw up a work agreement and figure out the payroll. Agencies often prepare the agreement whereas you may need to handle the payroll yourself. Either hire a payroll agency or hire an accountant to do this for you.

7) Introduce your child to their new nanny. If you can take time off from work during the first week of the nanny’s employment it may aide the transition for your child. Check in with the nanny by phone to make sure everything is going smoothly. Give the nanny a journal to write down things that happen during the day. When you come home you can go over the journal with the nanny. Don’t forget to ask the nanny how her day went too; this can go a long way in making her feel like a valued and respected caregiver.

So your hiring your first nanny….?

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Professional nannies can provide a level of care for your child that is simply not available in a day care setting. Your nanny will be focused on your children and your children alone and they will not be required to divide their attention amongst many different children as it is in a daycare. Also, your children will have the opportunity to be cared for in the comfortable environment of your home and to develop a close bond with a nurturing caregiver. Remaining in the comfort of your home can help children with changes like your return to work. Minimizing changes during transitions such as these will be very helpful in keeping stress low and for your child.

There are many other things to consider when you are hiring your first nanny. You may be becoming a nanny employer for the first time and you will need to learn about the responsibilities associated with having an employee. It’s important that you think about your specific family’s needs including your cultural background and how that influences your life, as well as the activities you and your family enjoy, whether or not you have pets, also practical needs like days and hours. Additionally, you may want to think about what type of nanny do you envision in your home? A college nanny? Or a grandmotherly sort? A professional nanny? Someone whose responsibilities include other household duties such as a nanny housekeeper or will they be responsible only things child-related?

Once you find a few candidates, you’ll want to review their nanny resume and then place a call to each candidate and conduct a preliminary nanny interview over the phone. Additionally, you will want to begin employment checking as well as their personal references. Once you have a few “finalists,” you’ll want to set up an in-person interview. Having a first interview at a coffee shop near your house will help you maintain a level of privacy. The second interview should definitely take place in your home with your children.

Once you have interviewed the nanny a second time, it’s time for you to schedule a “try-out” period where your nanny comes in and completes a trial day or up to a week. After you find the right nanny, you should let the candidate know that you are interested in hiring her pending a nanny background check. Following a clean nanny background check , you should offer the position as well as develop a formal work agreement. The first 3 weeks to 3 months is a period when nannies and families are learning about each other. It’s important that during this time period you check in with your nanny on a weekly or at least monthly basis about what is working and what is not working. It’s important for you and your child that you develop a good working relationship with your nanny. The most important piece to this is good communication. Good Communication needs to start from the very beginning.

Congrats, you are on your way! The benefits of having a professional nanny are so rewarding for children. Hiring your first nanny may feel scary and you may feel as though you are in uncharted waters, however, as long as you do your homework and learn about the process, you are going to do just fine!

Live-in Caregivers made to work longer to earn status

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For decades, the country’s caregiver program has brought in au pairs and nannies from abroad to care for tens of thousands of Canadian children and the elderly.

The program has also provided an opportunity for caregivers, mostly women, to permanently settle in Canada with their own families once they fulfill their nanny requirements.

But declining admissions for new nannies and longer waits for permanent resident status for those already here is fuelling speculation the program may be in jeopardy.

The number of caregivers accepted into Canada declined last year to 8,400, after peaking at 13,800 in 2007.

And the acceptance rate last year fell to 57 per cent compared to 73 per cent five years ago, according to the Association of Caregiver and Nanny Agencies Canada.

It now takes 18 months to bring a caregiver to Canada — up from 12 months in 2008, said association president Manuela Gruber Hersch.

“The government is slowly killing the program, making it unreasonably financially risky for families to use the program,” she said. “There are families who can’t find child care. Our aging population needs caregivers,” said Hersch, whose group represents 35 caregiver agencies. “There is a need for this program.”

As families wait longer for new nannies to arrive, caregivers already working here complain they are made to work longer to fill in the gap.

Caregivers are obliged to work as a live-in nanny for a minimum of two years in Canada before they can apply to become a permanent resident. While waiting for their new status, they receive an open permit entitling them to work in other fields.

However, caregivers complain they now wait 18 months — compared to 6 to 8 months a year ago — to get an open work permit while their immigration application is in process.

The longer it takes, the longer they are banned from working in other occupations.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney also announced a plan this month to reduce the number of caregivers granted permanent status to 9,000 in 2012, down from 16,000 this year. Caregivers say a lengthy queue now means it will take longer to bring over their spouses and children.

Filipina nurse Ruby Primero, who came to Canada in 2008 as a caregiver, is eager to have her three sons and husband join her.

But the 40-year-old is also anxious to get her immigrant status after passing her Ontario nursing exam. She must be a permanent resident in order to become licensed as a registered practical nurse.

“I have two jobs waiting for me as soon as I get my licence. But right now, all I can do is continue to work as a nanny,” said Primero, who filed her residency application more than a year ago and is still waiting for an open permit.

Immigration officials acknowledge the processing time for caregivers’ permanent resident applications has increased in the past year from 20 to 25 months.

“CIC received a higher number of applications for permanent residence under the LCP (live-in caregiver program) than we have experienced in the past. That increase had a significant impact on processing times,” immigration spokesperson Nancy Caron said in an email.

She also said Ottawa reduced its 2012 quota for caregivers allotted permanent status due to a decline in the number of nannies let into the country.

How to check nanny references like a pro

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Searching for Nannies: How to Check References Like a Pro

When you are starting to search through a pool of nannies to find the one who will take care of your children – whether it is for a few hours or full-time during the week – it is important that you complete a thorough screening process. While many potential employers will carefully run background checks of nannies, they may be tempted to skip or rush through another critical step before making the final hiring decision – checking references.

If you are hiring your nanny through a nanny agency, there may be someone in place who can take care of checking references for you. Such a person will be experienced in catching fake references that nannies may sneak into their resumes or in reading between the lines of what references say versus what they really mean. However, nanny agencies can be expensive, and you may instead want to find your nanny through an online service that allows you to do a lot of the legwork on your own. In that case, it is important that you have the proper mindset and tools with which to check the references of the nannies you are considering.

What You Can Learn from Checking References

You can learn a lot from checking references by listening not only to what the references do say but also reading between the lines about what they don’t say. Unlike other types of jobs, where someone serving as a reference is limited legally to what he or she can say about the person, those serving as references for nannies may be more forthcoming with information, both good and bad.

When you make the initial call, trust your instinct and listen closely to everything the nanny reference says. Most likely when you are checking references, you will be speaking to a parent just like you who will be eager to tell you about the nanny on both a personal and professional level. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions to cover not only the nanny’s demeanor and credentials but also details about the family for which she worked. In that way you can delve deeper into the nanny’s behavior in situations that most closely resemble those she may encounter with your own family. Pay attention as well to how the nanny reference behaves. The person may be rushed or distracted, and you should factor that into how you feel about the interview.

Questions to Ask When Checking References

Here is a short list of some of the more important questions that you should ask the references of the nannies you are thinking of hiring:

  • Was the nanny reliable and dependable? Can you give me an example of when she was/was not?
  • What was she like as a person? Was she warm, strict, upbeat, or energetic? Did she get along well with all of the members of your family?
  • What additional duties did she perform for your family? How well did she do these?
  • How well did she follow directions?
  • How comfortable did you feel about her ability to handle an emergency? Did she ever have to react quickly to a medical problem or other issue? How did that go?
  • Do you recommend that I hire this person to be a nanny for my children?

Before you begin checking references, you can also jot down notes about specific issues with which you may be concerned. For example, if your family has a pet, you can ask the reference how the nanny was around animals. If your family needs a nanny who can take your children to and from school, you can ask the nanny reference about the nanny’s driving abilities and find out how well she was able to keep to a schedule.

If you are working with bricks-and-mortar nanny agencies, they should be able to give you other tips about what to ask about nannies. If you are working with online nanny services, you may even be able to access helpful worksheets with additional questions and ideas about what to ask or what to listen for when checking references.

Red Flags when Checking References

Beware of phony references. Nannies with little or no prior experience may list friends or family members as prior employers. While it can be hard to recognize a fake nanny reference at first, there are some red flags. Check to see if the salary listed for the prior employer matches up with the going rates for nannies with comparable experience and education in your area. If it is much too high, you could possibly be looking at a fake reference.

In addition, when you are checking references, listen to how the nanny is described. There is a difference between an enthusiastic mother who loved the nanny and who ended the relationship only when her needs changed and a friend posing as a nanny reference who sounds like she is trying to sell the nanny as a perfect candidate.


When a family is searching for nannies, particularly if there are time constraints on the search – the mother is going back to work in a week, the nanny already in place just gave her notice, and so on – it may be tempting to skip the checking references step based on a “good feeling.” However, do not fall into this trap. Checking the references of nannies is one of the most important steps in the hiring process – it can give you insight into the nanny’s personality and work ethic that you would not otherwise be able to gain from an interview.

Bottom line, make sure you set aside time to call everyone the nanny lists as a reference on her application. While nothing is foolproof, checking references will help to make you feel more comfortable about the person you are bringing into your home to keep your children happy, healthy, and safe.

About the Author

Steve Lampert is the president of eNanny Source, an online nanny agency that brings together families and nannies. Lampert previously ran a successful, award-winning nanny agency in a major city for over 10 years, during which time he worked with thousands of families and nanny candidates. Through this experience, he became familiar with the important steps in a nanny search, which he continues to apply to his business today. To learn more, please