Baby Steps to Leaving Your Baby with a Caregiver

Ease into it with these helpful tips.

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I still think about the first time I left my now ten-year old with a new babysitter. He was only five months old and already asleep when my husband and I went out for dessert. Based on his habits, we thought it was extremely unlikely that our baby would even wake up.

When we returned home, the babysitter was in his bedroom rocking him and singing to him in the glider and his whole nursery smelled like her hand lotion. What the what was going on? My hormones flared up and I simply couldn’t understand how my well laid plans were tossed out the window within the span of three hours.

A lot has changed since then, I now understand that she read his signs and signals differently than we did; that something unforeseen — like a diaper incident — may have happened off schedule; and that watching an adorable baby is barely counts if you don’t get to lay your hands on the little cutie.

Do it when you’re ready. Some time around six months into a baby’s life, many moms are ready to get a babysitter. The range of “normal” is broad, but the most important thing is that you’re baby is ready when you are.

Start with a Mother’s Helper. Tiptoe into sharing care with a a babysitter that works when you’re still home! I loved having an extra pair of hands when my third son was born. Working together as a team allowed me to build trust and gave her more time to learn our routines. When I needed to leave my three children with another person, I knew that she was prepared.

Ease into it. Plan your first outing to be neither too long nor too far away. Try a little dessert date or a dinner with friends. Build up to longer times away.

Choose someone more umm mature than you. A rookie mom can be uncertain about a LOT of things; an experienced nanny may teach you a few new things about the ages and stages of your baby. Once I got over my nervousness ego, I learned to really appreciate our nanny’s tips and tricks.

Write up a cheat sheet. I like to include our cell phone numbers, food notes, and bedtime tricks. In my experience, when my instructions get too long, the babysitter is less likely to refer to my notes.

Be happy, be brave. If you’re feeling nervous about leaving your little one with a new person, I totally feel you. But I urge you to get over yourself! After you’ve done the careful screening process to choose someone you can trust, then go with those feelings. If you’re feeling positive about the upcoming experience, your baby will feel better, too. Trust that it will be okay.

Trusting a babysitter is hard on a control freak such as myself. But if I didn’t do it, I’d never get to go anywhere fun or work.  See also, my best tips on finding a good babysitter and my wacky instructions for a new babysitter.