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  • Writer's pictureMarine Lienard

What do the French call their Nanny?

France, renowned for its rich culture and sophisticated lifestyle, is a country that places great importance on the well-being and education of its children. In French households, nannies play a crucial role in nurturing and caring for children, but they are known by a different name - "nounou." In this article, we will explore the role of a "nounou" and how they contribute to the upbringing of French children.

French Nanny walking in front of the Eiffel Tower

The French "Nounou"

The term "nounou" is a colloquial and affectionate term used in France to refer to a nanny or a childcare provider. It is derived from the French word "nourrice," which means "nurse" or "nurturer." French parents use this endearing term to describe the person responsible for taking care of their children when they are not present. Nounous can be found in various settings, from private homes to daycare centres and preschools, and they are an essential part of the childcare landscape in France.

Roles and Responsibilities

The responsibilities of a "nounou" can vary depending on the specific needs of the family and the age of the child. Some common roles and responsibilities include:

1. Childcare: Nounous are primarily responsible for the well-being of the children in their care. This includes feeding, bathing, changing diapers, and ensuring the child's safety and comfort.

2. Play and education: Nounous often engage children in creative play and educational activities. They may help with homework, organise playdates, and stimulate the child's intellectual and emotional development.

3. Meal preparation: Nounous may prepare nutritious meals and snacks for the children, ensuring they receive proper nutrition during the day.

4. Household duties: In some cases, especially when working as live-in nannies, they may assist with light household chores related to the children, such as laundry or tidying up their play area.

5. Transportation: Nounous may be responsible for taking children to school, extracurricular activities, and medical appointments.

Qualifications and training

To become a "nounou" in France, individuals may not require formal education, but they should have experience and skills in childcare. Many "nounous" have completed relevant courses in early childhood education or have worked in daycare settings before becoming private nannies. They should be reliable, patient, and capable of providing a safe and nurturing environment for the children in their care.

Different types of "Nounous"

In France, there are various types of "nounous" to cater to the diverse needs of families:

  • Nounou à domicile: A live-in nanny who resides with the family and provides full-time childcare and support.

  • Assistante maternelle: A licensed home-based childcare provider who cares for a small number of children in their own home.

  • Crèche professionals: Childcare providers who work in crèches (daycare centres) and take care of groups of children.

  • Baby-sitters: Occasional childcare providers who watch over children for short periods, often during evenings or weekends.

In France, the term "nounou" reflects the intimate and caring relationship between nannies and the children they look after. These dedicated professionals play a vital role in the upbringing of French children, ensuring they receive the love, care, and attention they need. While the name may differ from the traditional "nanny," the role of a "nounou" is no less significant, embodying the essence of French culture, which values family and education above all else.

Marine, mother and founder of St Pancras Recruitment


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