What is a Nanny Camera?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A nanny camera is a surveillance camera which is specifically designed for use in settings where childcare providers are present. The term “nanny camera” often implies a hidden camera and many products marketed as nanny cameras are indeed designed to be concealed, but in fact some care providers are informed that they are being recorded with a camera. The legality of such systems varies, depending on where in the world one is. Generally, surveillance footage without sound is recognized as legal, but recording sound without consent may violate the law.

A teddy bear might have a spy camera installed to keep an eye on nannies.
A teddy bear might have a spy camera installed to keep an eye on nannies.

These products are designed for parents who may be concerned about the standard of care their children are receiving while they are with a childcare provider. In addition to being useful for monitoring a nanny's activities with a child, a nanny camera can also be used as part of a home surveillance system and as a baby monitor. For example, parents can have a camera in a child's bedroom so that they know when the child is restless or upset and needs attention.

Basic nanny cameras are usually simple cameras which are not necessarily designed for concealment. They can be battery powered or powered from the wall, and they may offer features like remote video monitoring. More advanced models are usually designed to look like something else, such as a teddy bear, an air filter, a clock, or a radio. While such cameras might be designed for concealment, they may also be used in settings in which a care provider knows that he or she is being recorded, and the camera is disguised so that it is less visually jarring.

The use of a nanny camera is not without controversy. Some childcare providers are not comfortable with the idea of being recorded at all, while others feel that recording is appropriate, as long as they are notified. While a nanny camera is supposed to make parents feel more comfortable about leaving their children in the care of someone else, they can become a cause of friction, and they generate a lot of work, as the parent will need to go through the footage from the nanny camera to look for activities which may be of concern.

Many day care centers use cameras for safety and to protect themselves from liability. These facilities may use nanny cameras because they are unobtrusive and seeing things like clocks or toys is less intimidating to parents than seeing cameras throughout the facility. These cameras can be used in the event of disputes about the facility and also for monitoring employees to confirm that they are providing a high standard of care.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


If a parent has an underlying mistrust of a nanny, he or she should go with their gut feeling and fire that individual. It shouldn't take "spying" on the employee to come to a conclusion.

I can guarantee that once the mistrust is discovered by the nanny, the relationship will be permanently damaged. This is based on 18 years of placing nannies with families.


I agree that this is a violation of privacy, but in most occupations, employees are supervised to varying degrees. I don't think employees should necessarily have the expectation of having privacy while they're performing their duties, especially when watching children is involved!

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