Being a nanny is not an easy task. It requires knowledge, skill, love, tenderness and a lot more. Rosalie San Juan, 36, learned this when she helped her sister find a nanny to take care of her niece a few years ago.
The bad experiences she had with the nannies sent from various centres inspired Rosalie to establish a place of her own that provides nanny training for those who want to make a career out of it.
''I met nannies who didn't have as much experience as claimed by the centres. Some were new to the job, and unable to perform their task efficiently. That's why I thought of setting up my own centre to produce quality nannies,'' said Rosalie.
Known as the ''Bangkok Nanny Centre'', it has been in operation for five years. It is a child care training centre, as well as nanny provider for parents who don't have enough time to look after their children.
Before starting the centre, Rosalie took a three-month nanny course at Siriraj Hospital. She later furthered her studies with a master's degree in Early Childhood Education at Kasetsart and Sukhothai Thammathirat universities. A mother herself of two-year-old twin babies, Rosalie manages and works as a nanny trainer at the centre.
Most of her trainees (70-80%) are sent from ''au pair'' agencies.
Rosalie San Juan demonstrates how to clean a baby’s nose.
Au pairs are live-in childcare providers who work overseas to learn about different cultures, caring for a host family's children. The au pairs are normally required to have at least 200 hours of child care experience before the agencies can send them abroad.
The average age of au pair trainees are from 20 to 27 years old. Nanny trainees are around 23 to 40 years old. The former usually are totally new to the job, while the latter are required to have some experience, such as babysitting or working for other nanny agencies.
The two groups are trained together. However, au pairs will attend more hours of training due to their lack of experience. Rosalie said the mixed class is good for au pairs because they can learn from others who are more experienced.
PREPARING FOR CLASS
Trainees practice carrying babies on their shoulders.
Before training begins, Rosalie interviews nanny trainee candidates to gauge their attitudes and personalities.
Those who appear unfit for the job would be rejected.
''From the interview, I would first screen them from their skills and experience. Attitude is my second criteria. If they are skilled but never listen to others, that could be a problem when they are sent to a family. So basically I choose the ones with whom I feel comfortable talking with,'' she explained.
There is no particular screening for the au pair groups, as most of them are sent from au pair agencies. However, she recommends that au pair trainees evaluate themselves and make sure they would be happy spending all day with small children.
Cotton buds are used to clean the ears and other delicate parts of the body.
''If an au pair plans to look after a child less then one-year-old, she should have certain child care experience before starting the job. If the au pair enjoys activities, loves talking, and has language proficiency, she may be fit for a child above two years old. However, kids at this age may be hard to convince, and the au pair also needs psychological skills to deal with them,'' she said.
Before the class, all the trainees are required to take a pre-test to evaluate their basic knowledge about child care. Rosalie said the test will let her know the strong and weak points of each trainee, so she can properly adjust the content for them.
Rosalie said the training covers everything a person needs to know to become a good nanny. It starts with basic child care, including how to carry a baby, bathing, oral cleaning, preparing infant formula, cleaning milk bottles, milk feeding techniques, getting a baby to sleep, how to wash the baby's clothes and accessories, as well as how to deal with the baby's bowel movements.
''These basic practices are important factors most parents will consider when choosing a nanny. The way you carry the baby, take a bath, wash the hair, and prepare the infant formula for the baby will show the parents how well you are trained,'' she said.
A number of mothers she knows test the nannies at their first meeting by letting them fetch the babies from their arms to observe how the nannies carry their infants.
The course also involves child nutrition, explaining how to prepare meals for children of different ages and how to feed them. Child psychology is another topic, explaining the nature of children and factors that influence their behaviour. Rosalie teaches how to promote child creativity, as well as how to play.
The trainee is also given lessons on child development at various stages: Physical, mental, verbal and social.
''Children's development has become a matter of concern for modern parents. There's an increasing demand for nannies to do more work, aside from getting a baby to eat and sleep. While the basic child care tells parents how well the nannies are trained, their understanding about the needs and development of children at different ages is proof of their expertise,'' she said.
Rosalie suggests a variety of recreational activities the nannies can do with the children, such as music, art, toys, exercises and outdoor activities.
The last issue to be addressed is first aid and caring for sick children. Nannies are shown what to do when kids are sick, and how to administer first aid in case of an accident.
THE GOLDEN RULES OF CARING FOR CHILDREN
According to Rosalie, there are two important rules that every nanny must remember.
The first rule is cleanliness. She stressed that a nanny must always keep both the baby and herself neat and clean.
''It won't look good if a nanny always looks clean and fresh while the baby she cares for gets dirty all over his or her body, or vice-versa,'' she said.
She recommended that a nanny who wears long hair pull her hair up, cut the nails short, and avoid wearing body ornaments, especially necklaces, because the baby could grab and tear them apart.
The second rule is safety. She suggests the nannies be quick to keep up with a child's every movement to prevent accidents.
''Do your best to keep the child safe. I've met many nannies who are hardly aware of an accident that can possibly occur. Some others are good at child care but never catch up with the fast-moving babies,'' she said .
For more information, visit www.bangkoknanny.com
Some guidelines for basic child care
Carrying a baby
- If you are right-handed, carry the baby with your left arm. Your left hand supports the baby's bottom, and your right hand supports the neck.
- If the baby's neck is strong, it is possible to let him or her sit on your left arm, and use your right arm to hold the baby's body.
- If you want to lay a baby on the bed, do it gently. Remember that the head is the last part to be put down.
- Prepare all the necessary items, including a plastic sheet, hair and body towels, a change of clothes, sponge, body shampoo, cotton and cotton buds for cleaning delicate parts.
- Start by washing the hair while the baby is still wrapped and warm in the towel. Make sure water doesn't get into the eyes or ears.
- Don't forget to clean the baby's back, bottom, and private parts.
- If you put the baby in a basin, wedge its body in with one of your arms to prevent the baby from slipping.
- Use cotton buds or cotton soaked with boiled water to clean delicate areas such as the eyes, nose, ears, mouth, navel and bottom.
- To powder the baby, put the powder on your palm first before applying on the baby's body. Some modern parents do not like powdering. Indeed, powder has no benefit and leaves undesirable particles on the body.
- Breast milk is always the best, and it is recommended for the first six months.
- When infant formula is needed, measure the formula precisely. Adding too much water may overly dilute the formula, meaning the baby won't get enough calories and nutrients. Adding too little water can put a burden on the baby's digestive system.
- There are standard milk-feeding guidelines for children of different ages. If the nanny is not sure, they should check with the parents or ask them to help by writing out a timetable.
The au pair course is six days long, and held on Saturdays from 10am to 4pm. Nanny recruits, who have a certain level of experience already, attend three days of class.
The au pairs are required to pay 2,500 baht for the entire course, which includes arrangements for them to collect hours of experience at the allied nurseries or, in some cases, at private homes.
Their evaluation will be sent to the au pair agencies to match them with overseas host families.
The nanny groups, meanwhile, may be sent to a family right after they finish the training, depending on how ready they are for the job.