Sunday, February 28, 2010

Nanny Support Group Directory


International Nanny Association (INA)
Co-Presidents: Wendy Sachs and Susan Tokayer

National Association for Nanny Care (NANC)
Contact: Lora Brawley and Sue Downey

Niñeras en Español
Contact: Jany Lauren

Professional Nanny Association (PNA)
Contact: Jennie Krogulski, Caryn Haase, Tara Lindsay


Bay Area Nanny Association (BANA)
San Francisco Bay Area
Contact: Margaret Felton
Yahoo Group:

East Bay Nannies
East Bay, CA
Yahoo Group:

Professional Nannies of Southern California
Contact: Melissa Holmes and Sarah Toscano
Yahoo Group:

Los Angels Area: Santa Barbara, Pomona, and Orange County
Contact: Buffi Gentry and Mic Almanza, Co-Owners


Kitchener-Waterloo Area Nanny Association (KWANA)
Kitchener-Waterloo area, Ontario Canada
Contact: Erin Collicutt


Denver Area Nanny Association
Contact: Laurie
Yahoo Group:


Nanny Alliance of NY & NJ
Southern CT, Metro NY, and NJ
Contact: Andrea Flagg


Central Florida Nannies
Orlando and Srrounding Areas
Contact: Marcia Van de Kieft (President) or Sherri Askew (Vice-President)

Nannies of Southwest Florida
Naples, Ft. Myers, Marcos Island, Cape Coral and Surrounding Areas
Contact: Jodi Lepp


Metro Atlanta Nannies
Contact: Deborah Brown

North Atlanta Nanny Association
Contact: Jocelyn Kelly


Nanny Circle
Contact: Pat Rung and Diane King

Association of DC Area Nannies (ADCAN )
Maryland, Northern Virginia, Washington DC
Contact: Kellie Geres


Boston Area Nanny Support Group (BANSG )
Boston and surrounding suburbs
Contact: Janice St. Clair
Yahoo Group:

North of Boston Nanny Support Group
Suburbs North of Boston, and New Hampshire
Contact: Maryann Kamitian


Ann Arbor Nannies
Great Ann Arbor, Michigan Area
Contact: Sandra Tracey
Yahoo Group:

Michigan Professional Nanny Association
Metro Detroit Area
Contact: Tara Lindsey, April Krause, and Maria Harrington


Twin City Professional Nannies (TCPN)
St. Paul, MN area


North of Boston Nanny Support Group
Contact: Maryann Kamitian


Nanny Alliance of NY & NJ
Metro NY/NJ/CT Area
Contact: Andrea Flagg

NJ Nannies
Contact: Sara Sandstrom and Bethany Farace
Yahoo Group:


Nanny Alliance of NY & NJ Metro
Contact: Andrea Flagg


Triangle Area Nanny Group (TANG)
Triangle Area of North Carolina, which is Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill
Contact: Tracey Chipps and Leanne Osborne


Contact: Greta Schraer

Cleveland Area Nannies
Contact: Cathleen Smith

Ohio Nannies
Kim Eggert
Yahoo Group:


Philly Nannies
Philadelphia Area
Contact: Sue Downey

Pittsburgh Nannies
Pittsburgh and Surrounding Areas
Contact: Kate Oaks
Yahoo Group:


Austin Nanny Connection
Greater Austin Area
Conatct: Patricia Kinnie

DFW Nannies
Dallas, Ft. Worth Metroplex Area
Contact Rowlanda Smith
Yahoo Group:

Houston Nanny Network
Contact: Tairajae Zachary
Yahoo Group:


Association of DC Area Nannies (ADCAN)
Northern Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland
Contact: Kellie Geres

Nanny Network of Richmond
Richmond, VA and Surrounding Counties
Contact: Angela Jackson


Association of DC Area Nannies (ADCAN)
Washington DC, Maryland, Northern Virginia
Contact: Kellie Geres


Emerald City Nannies
Greater Seattle Area
Contact: Anna Stivers and Danielle Burlingham

Northwest Nanny Association
Greater Seattle Area
Contact: Jenny Brown


Northshore Professional Nanny Alliance
Metro-Milwaukee Area
Contact: Mary Boyle

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Weekly Trip to the Library

Robert’s Rules of Order
By Henry Martyn Robert & William J. Evans

Since we have been discussing nanny support groups this week it only fitting to recommend that nannies reference Robert's Rules of Order when planning nanny support group meetings. This is a concise and user-friendly guide to the essentials for conducting a meeting by the official Robert's Rules of Order authorship committee.

Henry Martyn Robert was an engineering officer in the regular Army. Without warning he was asked to preside over a public meeting being held in a church in his community and realized that he did not know how. He tried anyway and his embarrassment was supreme. This event, which may seem familiar to many readers, left him determined never to attend another meeting until he knew something of parliamentary law.

Ultimately, he discovered and studied the few books then available on the subject. From time to time, due to his military duties, he was transferred to various parts of the United States where he found virtual parliamentary anarchy since each member from a different part of the country had differing ideas of correct procedure. To bring order out of chaos he decided to write Robert's Rules of Order as it came to be called.

The tenth, current, edition has been brought about through a process of keeping the book up to date with the growth of parliamentary procedure. All editions of the work issued after the death of the original author have been prepared by persons who either knew and worked with the original author or are connected to such persons in a direct continuity of professional association.

Tomorrow: Listing of Nanny Support Groups

Friday, February 26, 2010

Types of Meetings for Nanny Support Groups

This week we have been discussing nanny support groups. Here are some ideas for nanny support group activities and meetings.

Nanny Night Out:
A monthly nanny night out should meet at the same night (for example, the third Thursday) of every month.

Holiday Party:
Christmas, Hanukkah, Valentine's Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day, and any other holidays can be celebrated at the monthly meetings.

Group Birthday Party:
It is great fun to have a collective birthday party for all members. Everyone should bring a gift and receive one in return.

National Nanny Recognition Week (NNRW):
Celebrate NNRW each year with a picnic or party. Families, agencies, nannies, and charges can be invited.

Educational Workshops:
In-home childcare providers must continue learning to provide quality care. Many nanny support groups offer CPR-First Aid certification, self defense, and childcare workshops.

Professionals are often available to speak or present workshops to nannies about topics important to in-home childcare providers. Some businesses that might be willing to present a workshop or speak to a group of nannies include nanny industry related businesses such as: nanny referral agencies, payroll services, or insurance companies. Authors of childcare books are usually willing to speak to promote their expertise and sign books. Professionals can speak to nannies about child development or child discipline. Since it requires a lot of work to schedule an educational workshop, such events can be promoted just once, twice, or four times annually.


Many nanny support groups have an annual nanny/charge picnic to kick a new year and recruit new members for nanny the nanny support group.

Playgroup Field Trips:
Nanny support group members can organize playgroups to meet at various parks, go to the zoo, dairy farm, pools, and apple farms. Other fun options include police and fire station tours and trips to children's museums.

Playgroup Theme Days:
For example, a bug theme could include little butterfly nets and containers to keep the caught bugs in. Go on a hike looking for bugs. Have a bubble day where we just let the kids run around chasing bubbles and blowing bubbles. Schedule a bear hunt where the kids looked for a bear and find his paw prints on cupcakes that he left behind at a picnic table.

What are your favorite nanny support group activities?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How to Create Officers for a Nanny Support Group

Photo of members of the Association of DC Area Nannies attending Nannypalooza educational conference.

This week we are discussing nanny support groups as educational and social forms of support for nannies. Once you and a few other core nannies have started a nanny support group and other caregivers start joining the group it is recommended to delegate the work so no one person gets overwhelmed with too much work.

Appointing officers helps delegate responsibilities of the group. Nanny groups can create elected or appointed positions as needed.

Some common officer positions include: President, Moderator, Chairman, Founder, Secretary, Treasurer, Playgroup Director, Contact Person, Public Relations Director, Membership Chairman, Educational Liaison, and Newsletter Editor.

Playgroup Director:
Joyce Farmer, a nanny and former member of the folded nanny group National Association of Nannies wrote an article about nanny support groups. Ms. Farmer wrote, [When] starting a new group in a large city, you may want to designate one of your officers to be a Playgroup Director. While offering to set up playgroups initially inside the nanny group, it may then develop into a convenient service to the community."

She continues, "This lets mothers and caregivers know of new opportunities to meet with children of the same age group as their own. There are some areas where nanny/charge playgroups are needed, and others where nanny/charges may intermingle with mothers/children in playgroups. It is a decision that the participants will need to make before signing up, according to what each feels comfortable with."

Contact Person:
A contact person acts a great liaison for the group when it needs to communicate with another group or business. For example, if nanny support groups want to enlist local nanny agencies to participate in group events, the liaison can contact businesses and the business can respond to that contact person. Ms. Farmer further points out that a contact person may be the only leader needed for an informal group like a playgroup.

Educational Liaison:
An Educational Liaison may be in charge of contacting schools or educators to obtain speakers for meetings.

Public Relations Director:
A Public Relations Director typically handles all group contact with the public. Ms. Farmer says the responsibility of this officer is to establish and maintain contact with local newspapers, radio stations, and television stations to advertise information about the group and the group's events. The PR Director should prepare the group’s brochure, newsletter, member resource guide, flyer, and other printed resources used to promote the group updated and current.

Membership Chairman:
Ms. Farmer says the, "Membership Chairman should handle all membership duties: signing up new members and distributing new member packets, implementing membership drives, and keeping a current roster of all members."

She continues, "The Membership Chairman may be responsible for making sure dues are paid and memberships are current. They provide the newsletter editor with current mailing list."

Newsletter Editor:
Newsletters are a great way to keep members informed about nanny groups. In her article Ms. Farmer describes the Newsletter Editor as responsible for typing, printing, and distributing the group’s newsletter. She explains that the editor chooses the newsletter content. The editor may seek advertisers to pay for the newsletter. The newsletter can be handed out at meetings, mailed via postal mail to members' street addresses, or inexpensive email newsletters can be sent to members' email addresses.

Tomorrow on the Best Nanny Newsletter Blog: Ideas for Nanny Support Group Meetings and Activities.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Creating Nanny Support Group Bylaws and Guidelines

Dealing with Nanny Support Group Behavior, Gossip, and Complaints

Photo of educational activity of learning CPR & First Aid with Nanny Alliance of New York and New Jersey

When forming a nanny support group it is important to help encourage members of the group to behave in a professional manner. To do that, create guidelines or bylaws for all members to follow.

Andrea Flagg of the Nanny Alliance of New York and New Jersey (NANYNJ) shares the NANYNJ Membership Guidelines as an example for other nanny support groups to follow.
Nanny Alliance of New York and New Jersey Membership Guidelines:

Membership is open to nannies on all levels. We kindly ask all group members to please:

1 . Respect everyone as an individual and understand that all members are appreciated and viewed as a benefit to the group.

2. Be honest about your true feelings when giving your input on all issues; we want you to know that you have a say in the group as a member.

3. Not gossip behind each others backs. We understand that not all individuals will click with all other members but please maintain a mature attitude. We want everyone to feel

4. Honor the privacy of the members of the group and your employers. Do not refer to the family you work for by name.

5. Give the courtesy of a reply when moderators or other members of the group contact you even if it is to say, "Sorry, not interested."

6. If we do not hear from you for over two-months, we will assume you are no longer interested in the group, and your name will be removed from the member list. You are welcome you back at any time, but you will be asked to sign up as a new member again, which will require you to pay for a new membership.

7. Note: We are a professional organization and drugs and excessive drinking will not be permitted at any events or functions hosted by NANYNJ. Foul language is frowned upon.

8. We do not accept agencies or businesses as sponsors. We have listed businesses on our web site that have supported us in some way, (like exchanging a link to our web site).

The Yahoo Group for the Nanny Alliance of New York and New Jersey adds the following guidelines to those already described for their nanny support group above:

1. Any and all nannies are welcome. This Yahoo Group does not invite agencies, parents employing nannies, or businesses to become members. We do not welcome spamming of members. We monitor who joins the group. If you feel you have received spam from someone who may have gotten your address from our list please let us know.

2. Please do not post any personal contact information -- yours or the family for whom you work.

Do not post:
• Any of your employer’s contact information.
• Last names.
• Phone numbers.
• Addresses.
• Any specific charge and family information.

The group moderators will continue to closely monitor who joins the group, but since we have not yet had the opportunity to meet everyone in person, we can never be sure who is reading the posts.

Please note: Currently there are over 80 members. Therefore, we urge you to please think of your safety and the safety of the family for whom you work.

3. Please email individuals privately if your post pertains to just one person (such as a play date and meeting for dinner) since we do not want messages that are not intended for the group as a whole.

4. Please do not flame. This means if you disagree with someone's opinion you are free to disagree but do not put them down or make them feel like they are not entitled to their own opinions.

5. If a dispute occurs off list do not bring it to the group to solve. Please solve it amongst yourselves or email the moderators privately.
Do you have any other suggestions for nanny support group bylaws or guidelines?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Four Types of Nanny Support Groups

Social, educational, playgroups, and online groups.

Photo of Nanny Alliance of New York and New Jersey horseback riding.

Joyce Farmer is a nanny and previous board member of National Association of Nannies (NAN). In an article that was formerly posted on the NAN website Ms. Farmer described the three basic nanny support groups as: social, educational, or playgroups. Below we add the online nanny support group to the list.

Social groups do not offer speakers or educational opportunities. They provide a local social gathering of nannies. Nannies typically can get more feedback in a social situation than from a structured or lecture situation.

Educational groups usually have structure, an agenda, and a time set aside for a speaker or presentation, thus providing an educational opportunity at each meeting. There can still be time left for social purposes or a social event can be scheduled for another time
each month.

This is a small group, typically meeting once a week, including charges. There can be organized activities or just free play for the children. Nannies can network and talk while their charges gain the social contact of playmates.

Online Groups:
There are many nanny groups formed at The benefit of using Yahoo Groups is that it is a free service with no long distance phone charges. Just remember that when using the Internet, you need to use caution. Online nanny support groups often have privacy and confidentiality issues and groups frequently come up with guidelines that help control issues. Stop by again on Sunday February 28, 2010 for a listing of online nanny support groups.

Stop by tomorrow for suggested bylaws and guidelines for nanny support groups.

What type of nanny support group activities do you prefer?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Nanny Support Groups

Photo of Denver Area Nanny Association

Working with children all day makes nannies and crave adult interaction. Just like any other career, nannies need validation and opportunities to openly discuss both the achievements and the frustrations of their jobs.

Nanny support groups offer friendship, mentoring, a sense of identity, career credibility, educational opportunities, and the social opportunities that nannies deserve.

Andrea Flagg, a professional nanny, co-founder and moderator of Nanny Alliance of New York and New Jersey (NANYNJ) and moderator for the Yahoo Group for NANYNJ says the greatest advantage of being a member of a nanny support group has been, "Meeting others in my profession from all over the United States sharing resources and giving and receiving support."

Ms. Flagg tells in-home childcare providers, "Other nannies in your local area can be a wonderful source of information to share what places are fun in the area to visit both for you and your charges."

Janice StClair, organizer of Boston Area Nanny Support Group (BANSG) for ten-years explains, if you gain nothing else from attending nanny support group meetings you will gain, "A reality check, share tips based on experience, and brainstorm with the only other people who understand what nannies do -- other nannies."

Christy Ochs, a career nanny, member of Denver Area Nanny Association, 2007 International Nanny Association Nanny of the Year, (INA NOTY), and a mother and grandmother of five explains, "Being a nanny can be a very isolating job, and our nanny group provides a support system and social opportunities to connect with other nannies in our area."

Ms. Ochs urges nannies, "If you don't have a nanny support group in your area you can create one at an online web site provider or through the [nanny referral] agency you work with."

Glenda Propst is a nanny and co-founder of the International Nanny Association (INA) and National Association of Nannies (NAN) which is no longer an active organization, 1991 INA NOTY, a member of the development team of the nanny blog Regarding Nannies, and has moderated several boards online for nannies including Ms. Propst recommends that when starting a nanny support group a small group of nannies should work together to get the group organized. She explains that keeping the group of nannies small makes decision-making less complicated.

Michelle LaRowe agrees. Ms. LaRowe, 2004 INA NOTY, is an INA Credentialed Nanny, was president of Boston Area Nannies and currently serves as the Executive Director of INA. She is also the author of several parenting books including Nanny to the Rescue! and Mom's Ultimate Book of Lists. She recommends, "If you are interested in starting a support group for nannies don’t do it alone. First build up a core of three or four nannies who you can count on to make the group happen."

Ms. Propst encourages nannies to ask their employers to introduce them to nannies in the neighborhood, ask their nanny agency for the name and number of nannies they have placed in the area, go to local parks, and to the library story hour to meet other nannies.

Ms. LaRowe adds, "Contact local nanny agencies and ask them to inform their nannies about your meetings and events in their publications. Hang up flyers, hand out business cards, and host an online discussion group to get started."

"Post information for get togethers on local parenting sites and nanny sites where you can reach your target audience. Contact your local paper and ask them to do a story on the group you're starting," recommends Ms. LaRowe.

Ms. Propst explains, "Once you have your small group together start having organizational meetings. Assign jobs for each person that clearly state their responsibilities and a deadline for getting their jobs done.

Becky Kavanagh, a professional nanny, the 2006 INA NOTY, former President of the INA, and Secretary of Twin Cities Professional Nannies stresses, "Each nanny support group member must be vigilant that confidentiality is maintained about employers. But, the nannies need to be able to 'vent' in confidence too."

Ms. Kavanagh reveals, "Sometimes this is a challenge for some group members."

Ms. Propst emphasizes, "It is not about numbers, it is about offering support and meeting the needs of nannies who are looking for friends, information, advice, and a friendly face."

Tomorrow: Defining Different Types of Nanny Support Groups

Are you a member of a nanny support group? What do you like about being a member of a nanny support group?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Activities for Nannies and Au Pairs to Use for Black History Month

Helping children accept cultural, race, gender, and ethnic differences.

Are children born prejudiced? Of course not. Children learn prejudice from adults. If you want to observe a group of children free from prejudice, go to a nursery school and observe 3-year-olds interacting. They don’t know what it means to be biased.

This past week we discussed how to raise unbiased children for Black History Month. First we discussed how to prevent prejudice by valuing differences, we learned that nannies and au pairs should never allow children to tease or insult others, we discussed how to talk to kids about stereotypes, how to reduce gender role stereotypes, how to help children that are victims of prejudice, and we listed some of the books we referenced over the past week for Black History Month.

Below are some activities to do with youngsters to promote racial and cultural awareness.

Say Hello in Different Languages
This is a fun cross-cultural activity. Help the children to come up the words for "hello" in as many different languages as possible. Of course you can also learn how to say “Hello my name is…” or other phrases such as “please” and “thank you” as well. Click here to learn how to say “Hello” in different languages. Click here for several words and phrases of different languages.

The Story of My Name
Where does your name come from? Share the story of where your name comes from and what your name means. Everyone's name has a surprisingly interesting origin. This helps children to build intercultural respect and understanding. Google the children’s names and the names of their family members, friends, pets, and nicknames. Most people are surprised about the amount of interesting information about where their name comes from and what it means.

Skin-Color Match-Ups
Set out a number of nylon knee-high stockings in various shades, tan, black, white, pink, yellow, and red. Encourage children to try them on their hands and arms or their legs and feet. Ask questions to help the children increase their awareness of skin color. For example, "Can you find a stocking that is the same color as your skin?" Or "What color is that stocking you have on your arm?" Ask the children to "Try the _________ stocking. Is it lighter or darker than your own skin?" Tell the children no one's skin color is really white, pink, yellow, or red. Emphasize that skin-color differences are interesting and desirable.

Use photographs of different hairstyles and hair-care products from magazines for the children to use, explore, and talk about. Paste the hair from each photo on a 3" x 5" index card, put them in a box, and ask the children to identify each bit of hair. Talk about how hair has texture and curl. For instance, some people have fine hair while others have coarse hair. Some people have straight hair, and others have curly hair. Talk about how people have different hair colors and lengths. Take a photo of each child's face and make a collage of different hairstyles.

Music and Dance
Ask parents to lend you recordings of music that their family enjoys. Teach the children songs and dances from different nations of the world. Children will begin to see that all people like to sing and dance, but every group has its own special ways of doing it. Talk with the children about how different music sounds: loud, soft, fast, or slow. Listen for the different instruments. Again, ask parents if they have any instruments children could listen to or try.

Alike and Different (Thumbprints)
Set out white 3" x 5" cards, a black ink pad, a pen, and a magnifying glass. Ask the children to make prints of their thumbs by pressing them on the ink pad and then on the cards. Label each print with the child's name. Let children use the magnifying glass to see how the prints are alike and different. Point out that everyone has patterns on the skin of their fingers and each person's fingerprints are different from anyone else's.

Aboud, F. 1988. *Children and Prejudice*. New York: Basil Blackwill.
Clark, K. 1963. *Prejudice and Your Child*. Boston: Beacon.
Derman-Sparks, L., and the ABC Task Force. 1989. *Anti-Bias Curriculum: Tools for Empowering Young Children*. Washington, DC: National Association for Education of Young Children.
McCracken-Brown, J. 1990. *Helping Children Love Themselves and Others: A Professional Handbook for Family Day Care*. Washington, DC: The Children's Foundation.
Williams, L. R. 1989. "Issues in Education: Diverse Gifts, Multicultural Education in the Kindergarten." *Childhood Education*, vol. 66, no. 1, pp. 2-3.
McCracken-Brown, J. 1993. *Valuing Diversity: The Primary Years*. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
York, S. 1991. *Roots and Wings: Affirming Culture in Early Childhood Programs*. Minnesota: Redleaf Press.
Reprinted with permission from Fox Valley AEYC newsletter, Elgin, Illinois. Document Use/Copyright National Network for Child Care - NNCC. Part of CYFERNET, the National Extension Service Children Youth and Family Educational Research Network. Permission is granted to reproduce these materials in whole or in part for educational purposes only (not for profit beyond the cost of reproduction) provided that the author and Network receive acknowledgment and this notice is included: Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care - NNCC. Biles, B. (1994). Activities that promote racial and cultural awareness. In Todd, C.M. (Ed.), *Family child care connections*, 4(3), pp. 1­p;4. Urbana-Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Weekly Trip to the Library

Black History Month Books for Caregivers

The books and brochures listed below are the references for the past week of posts about Black History Month for nannies and au pairs.

Raising the Rainbow Generation: Teaching Your Children to be Successful in a Multicultural Society
By Darlene Powell Hopson

Designed for parents, teachers, and other caregivers of children under 12. The books suggests words and concepts children can understand at various ages. Whether a child is black, white, brown, yellow, or red, he or she is growing up with a negative or uninformed outlook toward people of other colors. The authors examine the sources of racial and ethnic stereotypes and explore the attitudes of parents before dispensing advice about raising offspring. The advice is grounded in real-life scenarios and current (or recent) events. It is realistic, well-focused, not preachy. A final chapter supplies folktales from around the world for reading aloud to young children

Teaching Tolerance: Raising Open-Minded, Empathetic Children
By Sara Bullard

Tolerance begins at home. We are all born with the capacity for tolerance and intolerance, Bullard maintains, and many of our natural traits? By far the most important indicator of intolerance is how a child is treated within a family. The child who is denied love, or raised in an atmosphere that is harsh or threatening, will become frustrated and angry; low self-esteem and a propensity for prejudice are then more likely to follow. Firm, calm, consistent parenting, Bullard writes, allows children to develop the curiosity, creativity and appreciation for the mysteries of life that are characteristics of the tolerant individual. Bullard enlivens her work with quotes and anecdotes from such figures as Maya Angelou and Martin Luther King Jr., and she concludes each chapter with questions and suggestions for journal writing to help parents further explore their own attitudes. Also included is an extensive list of books, toys, games and music that explore ethnicity and promote tolerance. More thought-provoking than prescriptive, Bullard's reasoned and persuasive essay offers convincing inspiration for parents to serve as open-minded models for their children.

Prejudice and Your Child
By Kenneth Bancroft Clark

Discusses racial awareness and its impact on white as well as black children, and provides wise counsel and a plan for action that is as fresh — and as necessary.

Friday, February 19, 2010

What You Should Do if the Child You Care for is a Victim of Prejudice

Coping with Prejudice by Making Diversity a Part of Life
By Alvin Poussaint, M.D. and Susan Linn, Ed.D.

Children don't come pre-equipped with reactions to each new experience in their lives. When children are hurt by racial or ethnic cruelty, it is hard to restrain an immediate emotional response. It's important, however, to try to comfort and explain instead of reacting angrily.

Families of color have an especially difficult job. They must raise their children to be free of prejudice while helping them to develop a positive identity in the face of prejudice. A family lifestyle that reflects confidence and self-respect is the key ingredient here. [As a nanny or au pair you play an important role in helping the parents achieve this goal].

Parents who show their children a sense of their pride in ordinary day-to-day living -- without shielding their children from racial realities -- have an easier task. Whether a family is Latino, or Asian American, African American, or Native American, their kids' books, dolls, and other toys should be multiracial. Children of color, just like Caucasian children, should have toys to play with that reflect all races and ethnicities, including their own.

[If your charge] is called an ugly name, for instance, it's a great temptation to fly into a blind rage. But what the child needs from you is reassurance that she is a good person and that people who call her such names are not nice people. At the same time, she needs to know that all people of that particular group don't act this way, and that there are good and bad people of all ethnic groups and races.

Children need encouragement to be assertive in these situations, at least saying to the name-caller, "I don't like you calling me bad names and I want you to stop."

And it's important to stress that talking out a problem is always the thing to try first. If a situation gets out of hand, a parent may need to intervene -- and the child needs to know that you are ready to back her up -- but children should be encouraged to initially try to handle these difficulties themselves.

Then, if a similar incident occurs again, they will be better able to deal with it. Whatever the problem, however, parents of color need to ensure that their children develop coping mechanisms that don't compromise their children's dignity.

Tomorrow on the Be the Best Nanny Newsletter blog: Weekly Trip to the Library -- Books About Teaching Tolerance

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Black History Month: Reducing Stereotypes

Playing with Gender Roles
We have been discussing how to help children to resist biases and prejudice.

You also can help build resistance to bias by encouraging your charge to engage in activities that go beyond or go against traditional sex-role stereotyping.

Sex-role stereotyping often begins with the purchase of toys for toddlers. When you buy a push toy to help steady your toddler charge's walking, do you automatically gravitate toward the shopping cart or vacuum if you care for a girl or the truck or lawn mower if you care for a boy? Why not try choosing the reverse? Boys can enjoy shopping too; and girls can have fun mowing the lawn.

Similarly, both boys and girls can both take care of "babies" (dolls), "cook a meal" (with a toy kitchen), build a train track, and "fix things" (with a toy tool box). Encourage your charge to explore all the opportunities open to her or him. Remember that you're teaching the future mothers and fathers of the world.

Wouldn’t you want your son as much as your daughter to grow up to be a nurturing parent? Likewise, as he or she grows older, won't you want your child to be independent enough to cook a meal for himself or fix a broken bicycle herself?

You can nurture interest in these activities by deliberately rejecting gender stereotypes in choosing toys and play for your toddler or preschooler-and in the roles you play in your own home.


Tomorrow on the Be the Best Nanny Newsletter blog: Coping with Prejudice

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Talking to Children About Stereotypes

More Topics for Nannies and Au Pairs During Black History Month

Since February is Black History Month there is no better time to help teach children to accept others' differences and reject racist or biased stereotypes.

Start by trying to expose children to a variety of influences in their community. Get to know people of different races, religions, and cultural backgrounds and invite their children over to play.
If the children you care for live in a largely homogenous community, you can expose the children to different races and cultures by stocking up on books, videos, dolls, toys, and posters or photos that show people of different races, genders, and physical abilities engaged in a variety of activities.

A diversity of images of males and females, whites and blacks, and people of all races will broaden your child's appreciation of both similarities and differences without glossing over the subject.

You also can expose the children to people of different races and cultures by carefully choosing television shows that present characters with different backgrounds. All chidren enjoy watching kids like themselves on television. But, unless the child is white, this may be difficult on most shows — especially shows on commercial television. Though many children's television programs do offer either sterotypes or limited diversity, if you look, you will find several good programs (mostly on public television) that do present differences in a positive light. Shows like Sesame Street, Barney & Friends, and Reading Rainbow, for example, feature multicultural casts and features that will expose your child to many different cultures.

Your local children's librarian can probably help you find a good selection of multicultural books and perhaps videos, too.

Tomorrow on Be the Best Nanny Newsletter Blog: Reducing gender role stereotypes.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Black History Month

Never Allow Teasing or Insults

Rather than discussing civil rights and famous African Americans which children will be learning in school for Black History Month, we would like to honor Black History Month as a time for nannies and au pairs to teach children to resist bias and prejudice and embrace differences in others.

We started talking about teaching children to respect differences on Sunday. Today we want nannies and au pairs to teach their charges to never tease or insult other people (especially due to race, gender, or ethnicity).

If you want to nip prejudice in the bud, don't let the children you care for ever insult, tease, or reject another person because of race, gender, or ethnicity. Make it a rule -- one that you, of course, observe as well — that you cannot tease, insult, or reject other people for who they are. Attacks on another person's identity simply cannot be allowed.

If you do hear a child tease or insult someone because of their gender or race (or if you hear another child teasing or insulting your charge), step in immediately. Remaining silent will only give the child permission to repeat it and to go on hurting others. Just as you would if your charge had physically hurt another child, comfort and reassure the injured child first. While doing so, make sure your charge knows that you disapprove of what he did. You may choose to discipline such bias attacks just the way you would discipline violence or physical attacks.

At the same time try to find out what underlies the insult. Chances are it didn't come out of the blue. If another problem, like having trouble sharing or difficulty taking turns, underlies the slur, then teach the child to address the problem directly, rather than attacking the person's race or gender. Help your charge see that the other child's gender or skin color or ethnic background has nothing to do with the sharing problem.

If fear of people who are different is an underlying factor, then you'll need to do some activities that will increase the child's opportunity to interact with other children who are racially or culturally different.

Stop by next Sunday when we will provide you with some activities to help children accept cultural, race, gender, and ethnic differences.

Tomorrow from Be the Best Nanny Newsletter: Talking to Children About Stereotypes

Monday, February 15, 2010

President’s Day

The Story of the Cherry Tree and Cherry Thumbprint Cookies

President's Day is celebrated on the third Monday of February to honor two of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. Today is a great day to remind children of the story of George Washington and the cherry tree. After telling children the story be sure to make the cherry cookie recipe below.

George Washington and the Cherry Tree

When George was about six-years old, he was given a hatchet. He went around chopping everything that came his way. One day, as he wandered about the garden by himself he found a beautiful, young English cherry tree, of which his father was most proud. He tried the edge of his hatchet on the trunk of the tree and barked it so that it died.

Some time after this, his father discovered what had happened to his favorite tree. He came into the house in anger, and demanded to know who had cut away the bark. Nobody could tell him anything about it.

Just then George, with his little hatchet, came into the room. "George,'' said his father, "Do you know who has killed my beautiful little cherry tree yonder in the garden?''

This was a hard question to answer, and for a moment George was staggered by it, but quickly recovering himself he cried: "I cannot tell a lie, Father, you know I cannot tell a lie! I did cut it with my little hatchet.''

His father’s anger died and taking the boy tenderly in his arms, he said: "My son, that you should not be afraid to tell the truth is more to me than a thousand trees! Yes , though they were blossomed with silver and had leaves of the purest gold!''

Cherry Thumbprint Cookies

1 teaspoon vanilla
2 sticks butter or margarine
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
maraschino cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the vanilla, butter, egg yolks, and brown sugar until creamy. Add the flour and salt and mix well.

Have the children roll the dough into 1" balls and place them on greased cookie sheets. Have the children make a thumbprint in each ball and then place a maraschino cherry in each thumbprint.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. (Makes about 3 dozen cookies).

What are you doing with your charges for President's Day?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Black History Month

Preventing Prejudice in Children By Valuing Differences

The terrific graphic to the left is from the Waterloo Public Library, 451 Commercial St., Waterloo, IA 50701

The article content below can be found at

February is Black History Month. The children will be learning about famous African Americans and civil rights in school. But, this week, we would like to honor Black History Month by discussing how nannies and au pairs can help raise children that appreciate differences and resist bias and prejudice.

As much as we would like to be a color-blind, a gender-blind, and an age-blind society, we aren't. So don't ignore the issues of racism and sexism (and ageism and other prejudices) just because they make you uncomfortable.

Children learn their attitudes from us -- the adults around them. Caregivers are essential in helping children to resist biases and prejudice. You can begin to battle the influence of bias in our culture by teaching the children in your care to value differences. One way to start is by encouraging the children to appreciate their own uniqueness. You can introduce children to the notion of differences by starting with their own family. Then you can compare your own family to your charge's family.

1. Do different members of their family have different color hair (black, brown, blond, red, gray, white)?

2. Do they have different textures of hair (curly, straight, thick, wispy, bald)?

3. Do they have different color eyes (brown, blue, hazel)?

4. Are there differences between your family and your charge’s family?

Acknowledging and valuing the diverse physical traits within their own family (or their family and your family) can help children appreciate diversity.

In teaching a child respect and tolerance for different people, start with concepts they'll understand. African American? Latino? No. Toddlers do not understand these adult labels. Instead, start by talking about gender and skin color — the real color: not black and white, but brown, tan, beige, and pink. Then you can talk about the shape of eyes, the color and texture of hair, and other obvious differences.

How is the child special? She's two-years old. She has a particular hair color, eye color, and skin color. Her ancestors have a specific cultural heritage. Sharing stories of people — family members, historical figures, or contemporary role models — from her ethnic group of whom you feel proud can also build an appreciation of your child's cultural heritage. The child also has a distinctive name, which may reflect some family history or cultural background.

Defining the ways in which the child is unique or special is a great way to encourage her to value differences because toddlers love talking and learning about themselves. By talking in a positive way about the toddler's physical characteristics and cultural heritage, you will help her build a positive sense of self. And if she learns to value what makes her different from others, your toddler will be more open to the notion of appreciating the differences of others as well.

Tomorrow: President's Day
Tuesday: Respecting Differences for Black History Month by Be the Best Nanny Newsletter

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Weekly Trip to the Library: Chinese New Year Books for Nannies and Au Pairs

Tomorrow is Chinese New Year and this is the year of the tiger. The year 2010 is year 4707 in the Chinese calendar. Below, Chinese New Year for Kids by Cindy Roberts has plenty of activities, party ideas, art projects, and recipes to use with your charges for Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year for Kids
By Cindy Roberts

Chinese New Year for Kids is a full color paperback book with beautiful, authentic Chinese illustrations. This is a hands-on workbook for parents, caregivers, and teachers, written for children from ages three to 12-years old, for use in the classroom or at home. Children will enjoy the Chinese New Year party ideas, dragon parades, lion dances, art projects, and Chinese zodiac games.

The art projects for Chinese New Year are designed to be easy, as well as inexpensive to reproduce for large groups. All the activities in this book have been thoroughly tested in the classroom, with very successful results, and have elicited lots of enthusiasm from children and teachers alike. Music, physical movement, art, and food all add to the ambiance of taking an imaginary trip to China during the Chinese New Year.

Celebrating Chinese New Year
By Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith

Children love celebrating Chinese New Year. This book follows a young Chinese-American boy and his family as their prepare for the Chinese New Year. The author includes the symbolic meanings of the foods eaten and other Chinese New Year customs, an explanation of the Chinese Zodiac, and an in-depth look at the Lion Dance. The photographs are absolutely stunning!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chinese New Year Recipes for Nannies and Au Pairs

Mandarin Orange Muffins
By Tami Rose, North Carolina

To the Chinese, oranges and tangerines represent wealth, luck, and abundant happiness. Start your day off right with our healthy orange muffins and a big glass of orange juice.

You Will Need:
1/2 C. Flour
1-3/4 tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Allspice
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 C. Sugar
1/3 C. Margarine or butter flavored shortening
1 Egg, beaten
1- 10 oz. can of Mandarin oranges, drained (reserve juice)
1/4 C. + 3 TBSP juice from reserved Mandarin orange juice OR 1/4 C. milk
(Optional: chopped nuts, raisins, mini chocolate chips, or sweetened coconut.)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.

2. Sift dry ingredients together.

3. Add 1/3 C. margarine or butter flavored shortening, cut in until the mix crumbles.

4. Add one egg, beaten, and reserved juice from reserved Mandarin oranges OR 1/4 C. milk. Add entire liquid to the dry mix. Mix just until moistened. Do not over mix to avoid dry, tough muffins.

5. Fold in Mandarin oranges.

6. Fill 3/4 full with batter then top muffin with one Mandarin orange.

7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.

8. Dip muffin tops in melted butter and cinnamon sugar mixture for a sweeter muffin.

Fortune Cookies
(makes 12)
Fortune cookies are a fun way to end a family meal, and easily bought in most Chinese supermarkets. But they are also fun to make - and if you make them yourself you will be able to add your own fortunes.

You Will Need:
1 Egg white
Tiny amount of vanilla extract
1 Pinch salt
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
Paper and pen

1. Have the children write fortunes with pen (not crayons or markers) on strips of white paper (approximately four-inches by 1/2 inch).

2. Preheat the oven to 400F and grease two cookie sheets.

3. Beat the egg white and vanilla until foamy but not stiff. Sift the flour, salt, and sugar and fold gently into the egg white mixture.

4. Place a teaspoonful of the batter onto one of the prepared cookie sheets, and tilt the sheet to encourage the batter to form into a nice round shape about three-inches in diameter.

5. Repeat, leaving at least two-inches between the cookies. Put no more than two or three per sheet as you will need to work with them quickly while they are hot.

6. Put the first sheet into the oven and bake for about five minutes, watching carefully, until the cookie has turned a golden color around the outer edge of the circle. The center should remain pale. While you are waiting, prepare the next cookie sheet.

7. Once cooked, remove from oven and very quickly lift one of the cookies with a spatula and turn upside down onto a wooden board.

8. Place the fortune in the middle of the cookie and fold the cookie in half.

9. Place the folded edge across the rim of a cup or glass and pull the pointed edges down, one on the inside of the cup and one on the outside.

10. Stand the folded cookies in the cups of a muffin tin or egg carton until they cool so that they hold their shape.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Easy Chinese New Year Paper Crafts for Nannies and Au Pairs

Chinese New Year is the most important of the Chinese holidays, and is a time of feasting with the family, celebration, fireworks, and gift-giving. It is a 15-day holiday, beginning on the first day of a new moon and ending with the full moon on the day of the Lantern Festival. This year Chinese New Year is February 14, 2010. Practice saying Happy New Year in Chinese with the children -- phonetically Gung Hay Fat Choy.

Below are some simple paper crafts to do with children to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Paper Fan
You will need:
Piece of paper
Two wide Popsicle sticks
White glue
Sticky tape
Colored pens

1. Have the children decorate the paper with butterflies, flowers, cherry blossoms, or calligraphy with colored pens.
2. Then, pleat the paper back and forth into equal folds.
3. Glue a Popsicle stick onto each end of the paper. The Popsicle sticks should stick out above the top of the paper.
4. Once dry the children can pull the Popsicles sticks together and tape them in place to make the fan.

Chinese Lanterns
Chinese New Year ends with the beautiful Lantern Festival. Here’s how to make paper lanterns with the children.

You will need:
Construction Paper
Tissue Paper
White glue
Hole punch

1. Fold construction paper in half lengthwise.
2. Cut lines through the fold to about 1 ½ inches from the top of the paper at about 1 inch intervals.
3. Glue strips of tissue paper along the uncut side.
4. Have the tissue paper hang at the bottom. Make two small holes in the top. Tie some thread through to hang the lantern.

Tomorrow on the Be the Best Nanny Newsletter blog: Chinese New Year Recipes

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

February To-Do List

Monthly Reminder for Busy In-Home Childcare Providers

February is a busy month. February is Black History Month, government offices and banks close to honor President's Day, many celebrate the Chinese New Year, and we celebrate Valentine's Day. But, February is also the shortest month, so don't forget to pay your bills on time and take care of yourself during this busy month.

Many find February is a gloomy month. Exercise will brighten your spirits and help achieve fitness. A vigorous walk at the mall is more rewarding than watching a television show.

File your taxes:
If you are due a refund, file your taxes as soon as possible. Online tax programs are simple to use, inexpensive, and your refund can be direct-deposited.

Have a heart:
Valentine's Day is a perfect time to remember all your loved ones, and it is also a great time to consider your heart health by reviewing you diet.

Conserve your cash:
February is the shortest month; your bills come due quicker than usual. Plan ahead.

Use your gift cards:
Some of those gift cards you received for Christmas may start to lose value now. Redeem them before you misplace them.

Review your credit card rates:
Credit card issuers have responded to Federal consumer rights laws by increasing fees, increasing rates, and increasing minimums. Pay-off and close those cards that offer the costliest deals.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Just Use Glass: BPA-Free Does Not Mean BPA-Free

Canada Finds the Toxin BPA in “BPA-Free” Baby Bottles

An award-winning "BPA-free" baby bottle contained the highest traces of the toxic chemical when Health Canada tested for leaching into water, according to newly released test results.

As we've all heard umpteen times by now, there is evidence that exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) may cause health problems. In January 2009 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that Americans should avoid plastics with the chemical BPA. After that announcement we reviewed 12 BPA-free baby bottles.

But, Canada has been more proactive than the American government and has banned plastic baby bottles with BPA after concluding the chemical is toxic. Here in the U.S., several state governments are considering ways to restrict its use. Some major retailers also have pulled BPA-containing products from their shelves.

Below is an article showing that some of the bottles we reviewed that are labeled “BPA-free” actually have the chemical in the product! After reading of these studies we recommend just switching to glass baby bottles to be sure you are avoiding BPA. Why risk the health of your baby or charge?

OTTAWA — An award-winning "BPA-free" baby bottle contained the highest traces of the toxic chemical when Health Canada tested for leaching into water, according to newly released test results.

Dr. Brown's Natural Flow bottle, described as a product "parents can't live without" for the past five years by the influential magazine American Baby, showed trace amounts of 0.9 parts per billion in the water after 238 hours at 60 C.

Other "BPA-free" brands with detectable levels under these conditions, ranging from 0.002 to 0.025 part per billion, included Gerber, Medela, Whittlestone, Nuby and a house brand sold at a dollar store in Canada.

There were no detectable levels found in the BornFree and Thinkbaby bottles after 238 hours. The Green to Grow brand was not analyzed at the 238-hour mark after Health Canada found no detectable levels after 94 hours.

Thinkbaby bottles showed no detectable levels after two hours, 22 hours and 94 hours, while BornFree showed minute traces at the two-hour mark, but came up completely clean after that.
Health Canada did not include the Adiri Natural Nurser bottle — pitched to parents as "100 per cent BPA free" — in the water migration survey.

But in a second test using ten per cent ethanol, Health Canada found three bottles with detectable levels of the chemical in one of the four time-specified readings — Adiri, Dr. Brown and Whittlestone.

Health Canada released the detailed breakdown of the results after a barrage of criticism in the past week from consumer advocates and bottle manufacturers, demanding transparency and questioning the veracity of the test results. But the release has only raised more questions about the study.

The aim of the study, conducted last year after Health Canada announced an imminent ban on polycarbonate plastic baby bottles, was to compare the levels of BPA migrating from polycarbonate baby bottles to those made from substitutes, under real-life conditions used by parents.

The study found much higher readings of leaching among the polycarbonate bottles — reaching 59.92 part per billion after 238 hours.

By then, the market had already been flooded with "BPA-free" alternatives made of substitute plastics without any bisphenol A, which were pitched as an option for parents concerned about the health risks associated with the newly labelled toxin.

The test results surprised Health Canada scientists involved, according to records released to under the Access to Information Act.

"This bottle is labelled polypropylene, which should contain no BPA," the lead scientist wrote to a colleague, recommending another analysis be done to "verify the claim" and "check more samples."

Click here to read entire article.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Review of BPA-Free Thinkbaby Bottles

After the FDA had a press conference warning Americans of the dangers of BPA leaching into milk, water, juice, and foods from plastic containers, we found 12 BPA-free baby bottles for parents, nannies, and au pairs to use safely.

We reviewed: the Adiri baby bottles which are BPA-free but the company is now out of business, the Avent BPA-free baby bottles with the honey colored tint, the Wee Go nurser by Babylife, the Born Free baby bottles, Dr. Brown’s baby bottles, Evenflow Classic glass bottles, Green to Grow baby bottles, Sassy baby bottles, Medela baby feeding products, Playtex drop-ins, and Breastflow baby bottles.

We also reviewed three books to help caregivers bottle feed babies: Top Tips for Bottle-feeding by Clare Byam-Cook, Balancing Breast and Bottle by Amy Peterson and Mindy Harmer, and Feeding Baby Green and Raising Baby Green by Dr. Alan Greene.

Our final BPA-free baby bottle to review is the Thinkbaby bottles. Thinkbaby products are free of BPA, phthalates, PVC, lead, nitrosamines, melamine, and biologically toxic chemicals. Thinkbaby has three nipple flow rates available. A cross cut slow flow for newborn to three-month old babies, cross cut medium flow for three to six-month olds, and a cross cut fast flow for the six-month old to one-year old child.



• Free of BPA, phthalates, and lead.
• Dishwasher safe
• Seven flow rates of the silicone nipples
• Venting system
• No spill design
• Easy transport with travel caps
• Easy to clean
• Packaging is recycled and recyclable


• Some leaking
• Some nipple collapse

What do you like about thinkbaby bottles?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Review of "Top Tips for Bottle-feeding" by Clare Byam-Cook

Bottle-Feeding for Nannies and Au Pairs

When caring for newborns and infants, nannies and au pairs must know how to bottle-feed babies. Even when new mothers feed their infants breast milk exclusively, the in-home caregiver will need to bottle-feed the infant breast milk. And, despite all the values of breastfeeding we have all heard, some mothers must bottle-feed their infants formula and Clare Byam-Cook, author of Top Tips for Bottle-feeding explains how to properly bottle-feed infants and why bottle-feeding infants is fine.

Clare Byam-Cook is a retired midwife from London. She has spent the past 20-years helping thousands of women -- including celebrities such as Kate Winslet and Helena Bonham Carter -- to breastfeed. Although her book is written for mothers in the United Kingdom, her advice on how to bottle-feed is useful for mothers and caregivers world-wide.

Controversially, Ms. Byam-Cook believes it is okay to give breastfed babies a bottle when necessary -- heresy in the breast-feeding world.

There is little doubt that breast milk is best. Typically breast milk gives babies all the nutrients they need for the first six-months of life and helps protect them from ear and gastro-intestinal infections, chest and urine infections, childhood diabetes, eczema, obesity, and asthma. It also helps protect the breastfeeding mother against ovarian and breast cancer, and weaker bones later in life.

"Most women have got the 'breast is best' essage," says Byam-Cook. "But breastfeeding does not guarantee your baby won't get these illnesses, it just means your baby is less likely to get them."

She continues, "Yet because women are always being told how wonderful breastfeeding is, they assume that breastfeeding equals perfect health, while formula is liquid poison. So many women limp on miserably, still trying to breastfeed when it's clearly not working."

"Successful, happy breastfeeding, is based on the assumption that all babies feed perfectly and that all mothers have plenty of milk," explains Byam-Cook.

Byam-Cook also disagrees with the theory that virtually all women are capable of breastfeeding. "This idea that every woman can breastfeed because she has a pair of breasts is ludicrous," she argues. "It's like saying no one should become diabetic because we all have a pancreas."

No matter how they try, some women will never produce enough milk. Some babies have such a poor sucking reflex they will never manage to breastfeed successfully.

The author says, "Breastfeeding is a skill that needs to be taught well. Some midwives and counsellors are brilliant teachers. But other mums are let down by poor or conflicting advice."

While Byam-Cook is not exclusively promoting bottle-feeding, she believes the use of a bottle should not be seen as some kind of heinous crime -- and indeed, breastfeeding and bottle-feeding mothers should be taught how to give a baby a bottle properly.

"Focusing solely on breastfeeding and refusing to discuss bottle-feeding, which many antenatal classes now do, means that mothers no longer know how to properly make up, store and give bottles of milk -- either of their own expressed milk or formula," says the midwife and author.

"I have no qualms at all about advising a woman struggling to breastfeed to express her milk and give it via a bottle," says Byam-Cook. "We can then try breastfeeding again when the mother is no longer tearful and in pain, and the baby is no longer screaming with hunger."

She continues, "If a baby can't or won't get enough milk out of the breast to be satisfied, it's better to give formula in a bottle than for the baby to end up dehydrated because of underfeeding."

Just under half of all mothers who prepare powdered formula do so improperly. For instance, they use boiled water that has cooled for too long (raising the risk of bacteria).

"Without proper information, it's not surprising that so many bottle-fed babies are more prone to problems like gastroenteritis," says Byam-Cook.

Clare's advice to expectant mothers is clear. Try to breastfeed. Every mother owes it to her baby to at least try. But have a sterilizer, breast pump, bottles, and formula -- and access to effective help on standby just in case problems arise.

As nannies and au pairs we owe it to the mothers and their infants to encourage the mother and infant bond, whether the mother breastfeeds or uses formula. Ultimately, women need to accept that despite all their efforts they might not be successful at breast feeding. But, with a supportive caregiver and knowledge of proper bottle-feeding they will still have a healthy and happy baby.

Click here to start our our reviews of 12 BPA-free baby bottles.