When you hear of Norland College, an image of immaculately dressed nannies comes to mind with that trademark brown bowler hat, crisp white gloves and a Mary Poppins smile. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's nanny, Maria Borrallo, is one such 'Norland Nanny', tasked with caring for their three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
So what makes a Norland Nanny the cream of the crop when it comes to childcare? Numerous celebrities and royals have hired nannies from the prestigious college, which was founded in 1892 and combines an undergraduate degree with their own diploma – known for its theoretical and practical training.
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Duchess Kate with her nanny Maria Borrallo
Louenna Hood is one such Norland Nanny and Maternity Nurse, having graduated from the top college 15 years ago. She has worked for a number of high-profile families and recently launched her own 'Nanny Louenna' app offering parenting advice to families. The app has everything from tips on feeding and potty training to first aid and post-natal fitness advice.
Louenna said of her time at Norland College: "Norland has got a great name if you want to be a nanny – it's the go-to place. It was the best thing I ever did going there. I loved being there. You're surrounded by other girls who want to be amazing nannies as well."
"It sets itself apart because it's a very practical course, so throughout the whole training, you're in college for one week and every afternoon you'll do a practical lesson – it could be cooking or sewing or learning about weaning or bottle feeding. Then every other week you're on a placement with the children."
The prestigious Norland College
"There's no other course that's like that. It's really traditional because of the uniform but they've moved with the times and are very up to date in how they teach everything."
HELLO! caught up with Louenna to chat about some common parenting topics…
Nanny Louenna's tips on disciplining children…
"It's always got to be fair and I think it's got to be consistent. Children often thrive from having some boundaries. The main thing is they know what the boundaries are so you don't change those. It would be the same answer tomorrow if you asked the same question."
"Just having a little consequence for your actions is the main way to deal with something, and teaching them through being a good role model, saying 'that's not how we behave, we don't do that' – rather than using the naughty step."
"For example, say a child bites another child, you have to tell them why it's wrong: 'it hurts the other person, and if you do this again we will go home'. The main thing is that you carry it out."
Norland nanny Louenna Hood
Nanny Louenna's tips on teaching at home…
"Teaching is a massive part of my role. I like to teach children through play as they enjoy it and soak up the information. I think that's the best way."
"Being outside with the children every day is so important – it doesn't matter if it's pouring with rain, the children don't mind as long as they're dressed for it –I think it's a huge benefit to their mental wellbeing and their behaviour."
"For home-schooling children, I'd say do short, sharp bursts of teaching them. I think it's really hard for the children who are four and five years old because they don't have the reading skills so you have to be with them all the time."
"Taking a lesson outside or not just always sitting at a table [is great]. Say to them, I know it's super boring, but if we get through this bit then we'll go and have a play."
Louenna in her Norland Nanny uniform
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Nanny Louenna's tips on getting children to sleep…
"I think it starts from when they are babies and learning that bed isn't a punishment or a bad thing. Bedtime should be a nice time that you enjoy. If they've had enough awake time in the day, lots of outdoor time and they're eating well – I think there's a bit of a cycle... if you eat well you tend to sleep much better.
"It's establishing that routine of having regular feed patterns and proper sleep times. So you have bath wind-down time and then into bed.
"That's a big part of my app. People go to the routines for guidance on how much sleep a baby should have during the day."
"If your baby wakes too early invest in some blackout blinds, get lots of fresh air in the daytime. If they're having a nap in the day, maybe think about cutting that back or not letting them sleep past 3pm.
"Before you go to bed, go and check your child. They're often in these strange positions and the covers have fallen off. If you realign them in their bed and tuck them in, they're ready to have another long sleep. That often helps.
"And I love using a Gro Clock – often children wake up and they have no idea what time it is and of course, they come through to your room. If they've got a clock to look at showing if it's day or night that helps."
Louenna likes to swaddle a baby to encourage good sleep
Nanny Louenna's tips on self-soothing…
"I do self-settling from the day they're born, but that's not with any crying. When they're newborn they are so sleepy - if they've got a full tummy and they've been really well winded and had that bit of awake time, then before they get overtired I swaddle them. Put them down awake when they're tiny and then they just drift off. If you're always in that pattern from day one, you never have to go through sleep training.
"If you do have to go through the sleep training, I wouldn't advise it before four months and I would only do very short stints of crying.
"Having worked with loads of newborns, I know there's an hour and half window with a newborn. If they're not asleep by that hour and a half, they're overtired and then it is much harder to settle them."
The Nanny Louenna app is available to download from the App Store and Google Play with subscriptions starting from £4.99 a month