Are you a new mom? You may wonder when you can leave your baby with a babysitter. Or perhaps you are returning to work soon and wondering how to solve your childcare problem. Read on to hear our thoughts.
When can you leave your child with a babysitter?
Life with a new baby can be wonderful, but also overwhelming. Some mothers need to return to work very soon after giving birth, while others decide to leave their babies with a sitter to run errands, go out to dinner, or for any other reason. Right after a baby’s birth, it is rather hard to leave him or her in the care of anyone else — even a loving daddy! Newborns are really attached to their mothers, and vice versa. Breastfeeding mothers may be called on at any time at all during the first six months. This is not an argument in favor of bottlefeeding, rather nature’s way of making sure moms and babies stay close to each other.
If you are asking yourself when you can leave your baby with a babysitter, you may first like to ask if you really need to and really want to. Young babies can be taken to most places that don’t involve paid work. When necessary, even the youngest babies can be left in the care of trusted adults. It’s fair to say newborns prefer their mother, but the father is a close second choice. Babies of any age can also adapt to being looked after by grandparents, paid babysitters, or daycare workers. They may form close bonds with this people, something you may see as positive or negative.
The baby’s basic need for food is the most pressing logistical problem with young babies. If you are formula feeding, this is much less of a problem. Breasfeeding mothers need to pump milk in advance, and also express milk when their breasts become engorged. If you need to leave your baby in the care of another person, it is best to build the time up slowly. You may like to leave your baby with your babysitter while you fold laundry or take a bath elsewhere in the house, and then extend that time slowly. You could grab a coffee with a friend nearby, do some quick shopping, or take care of some errands.
How to choose a babysitter
Even more important than when and how to leave your baby with a babysitter for the first time is how to choose a babysitter. Your baby’s physical and emotional health will depend on the quality of the babysitter, especially if your babysitter will spend long periods of time with your little one. You need to trust your babysitter absolutely, without any reservations. That means a person you already trusted before your baby was even born is the best choice, where possible. If not, a properly vetted and caring professional daycare facility is probably the safest choice for your family.
One great book to read before choosing any babysitter for your baby, in any setting, is Gavin de Becker’s book Protecting The Gift. De Becker is an expert on predicting violence of all kinds, including sexual and physical violence directed at children. His book includes advice on choosing a daycare facility and selecting a babysitter. There is a lot about warning signals to watch out for, but also question to ask and actions to take when interviewing the people who will ultimately be left alone with your child.
Sometimes we, as parents, need to take some time away from our children for various reasons. I have personally found that this is often avoidable — but if you work outside of the home, then people beside you and your partner (if you have one) are extremely likely to play a very important role in your child’s life. Babysitters and daycare staff can definitely play a very positive part, but only if you make sure they are worthy of that trust first.
Would you like to share your experiences with choosing a bahysitter, or helping your baby adjust to being in a daycare setting? We would love to hear from you!