When we first started working with our evening babysitter, Holden was 5 months old. Rather than training her in the art of putting him to bed, we had her come to our house post-bedtime so he was none-the-wiser.
As a short-term solution, that was great, but as a long-term solution it was not. If your child never even meets the babysitter, then how are you getting more comfortable with leaving them in another’s care? And how are they building their comfort with the care of others?
So after some hard-learned lessons in leaving my sons with babysitters, I offer these five tips for building your own comfort with leaving your baby in another’s care for the first time:
- Find a capable babysitter. Ask for friends’ recommendations or use a reliable service. It’s ok to call references.
- Prepare yourself for her to do things a little differently. Be ok with it.
- Do a basic amount of baby-proofing; whether at home or in a hotel room, do a quick check for hazards before you leave. Do you need some baby gates or outlet covers so you can leave for the evening in peace? Take care of that.
- Write down the important instructions and phone numbers like foods to avoid, bedtime routine, pediatrician’s number in one place for her to reference.
- Say a quick and loving goodbye. And go! Don’t drag this one out: remind your child you’ll be home after bedtime and sneak in for a kiss then don’t look back. If there are crocodile tears as you pull out of the driveway, they will dry soon enough. For reals.
We have a terrific local childcare resource that shares digital copies of standard childcare definitions and sample nanny agreements for longer-term arrangements. For first-timers, this is super useful.
Leaving a new baby alone with a babysitter can be very scary. The first time I planned to leave Holden alone with his new nanny, I had to excuse myself to the other room to cry a little bit before heading out. And this was not because I got that weird bad feeling; it’s just traumatic enough in its own right even when all signals are good.
Over the years, we have written about babysitters a lot! If this post, doesn’t do the trick for you, try one of the babysitter posts in our archives.