G.P. asks from Mountlake Terrace, WA on July 29, 2010
My 8 Month Old and the Babysitter
i have a darling 8 month old and he is a little on the affectionate side. i had to get a sitter for him for 4 hours a day 2 days a week. she is a nice young (29 yr old) woman with a son (7) she has a roommate who is nice too. roommate also has kids but they stay mostly with their dad. he has been going to her house (which is set up like an in home daycare) for a month now, all she ever reports to me when i pick him up is that he spent the hours yelling and screaming. basicllly being difficult. she has told me to take him to the dr because she feels like he is in pain, either teething or gassy. although he cries for me pretty often i try to put him down and give hime some space thoughout the day to explore and learn to crawl and simply not be in my arms. i'm pretty upset about this situation because i need to work and will need 3 days a week of care very soon in the next months.
so my question is what is normal for an 8 month old sesitive baby, who loves to be a part of everything that's happening, when he goes into the care of other people? i HATE not hearing how awesome my son was when i go to pick him up and i'm very afraid this might happen at any palce of care i take him too. i need help. also should i find new care? i like this lady and the set up she has. i just flat out need advice
H.W. answers from Portland on July 30, 2010
She may be a perfectly nice person to you, but let me explain: if her perception is that "he spent the hours yelling and screaming. basicllly being difficult" then that's probably how she's experiencing it. (this is neither a right or wrong) I nannied for years, and I only ever suggested a parent take their child to the doctor when there was evidence of medical need. ( hives, ear infections, even once, a periscoping colon, which is a medical emergency). The point is, babies cry. A lot. If a person is providing care for a baby, they need to have a temperament to endure a lot of anger, frustration and tears and still have a relatively positive perception of the child in their care.
And even on frustrating days, parents need to hear what worked, what went right. I've been on both sides of this.
A question: has she ever asked what works for you when he cries, or has she told you "I tried X and then Y, but it seemed like it wasn't working for him"? Also--are there other children whose needs require her to leave him on his own a lot? (Supervised, but without adult interaction) I just ask this because, if this is her job to watch your son for 4 hours and he's crying "constantly", it sounds as though his needs (social/emotional) aren't being met. Research shows too, that holding and soothing are very real needs for infants and toddlers. Children are certainly adaptable, but infants need responsive adults who are in touch with their needs and personality--it is not the burden of the child to fit in with the preferences of the caregiver in this particular regard.
If it were me, and I had a child who was crying for longer than 40 minutes after the parent left, I would have called the parent to check in. The fact that he's crying for 4 hours is worrisome.
Find someone who loves babies and who really doesn't mind holding or wearing your son. Your sitter may have had a very different relationship with her son at this age too, and your son's needs may be out of the range of her personal experience. I don't want to slight your sitter--she probably has the best intentions and has drawn her knowledge from her experiences. And she might be terrific for kids who are more interested in being alone, ready to explore and play more independently. But children of all ages need to feel secure in having their needs met before even beginning to engage in exploratory or constructive play. This may be what's happening--I don't know.
I'll be interested in seeing others posts on this. My apologies for this being so long. My background leads me to believe that caregiver/child relationships are often more nuanced and complex than most people perceive them. It sounds like you are a loving, concerned mom who is striving to find balance in your son's life. It's okay to stretch our little ones from time to time, but this sounds like less of a stretch and more of a gap. I hope you find someone who thinks your son is just the terrific little person you think he is!:)
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A.Z. answers from Portland on July 30, 2010
Instinct tells me she is a poor fit for your child. A childcare provider that truly was interested in your child would be reporting the efforts made to stop the crying and encourage peace. They would also ask what they could do to provide comfort (ie: what's their favorite toy, song, activity, etc.).
Have a talk with her and see if you can get to the bottom of it. What do they do all day? Your son is at the age where there can be a lot of frustration if they do not get enough stimulation. Is she just putting him in a confined play area or a playyard? Or is she actually playing and interacting with him? Has she tried a change of pace. When he gets cranky or fussy, has she taken him outside to get some sun and fresh air and see and smell new things, or does she just let him continue to be frustrated and deal with it? Everyone has their own style of sitting and parenting and it sounds like she just doesn't have it in her to invest the time to make him happy by providing proper stimulation. She may simply not know what to do either. Just because she has a son, doesn't mean she took care of him during that stage. Perhaps hers cried a lot too, or her parents or others helped care for him.
In the end, listen to your gut. You need to work, so you need someone to care for your child. Finding a good fit will make your son happy and relieve you of stress and worry!
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M.P. answers from Portland on July 30, 2010
Have you talked with the baby sitter about the specifics of the day? Does she seem warm and does she hold him thruout the day? Is he allowed to get down and crawl with appropriate toys. When does she feed him and how much? Do you provide the food or does she? Cud you take him over and stay to watch how they get along for an hour or so perhaps on your day off?
She may be appropriately friendly with you but not spend much time with him during the day. She suggests he's teething. What does she do for the teething? It seems a bit odd that she would suggest taking him to the doctor for teething instead of talking with you about how you'd like for her to handle the pain of teething. Also, teething usually results in more fussing than yelling and screaming.
She has a 7 yo but that doesn't necessarily mean she knows how to care for your baby. Before deciding what to do, spend some time talking with her about what she does with and for your baby and get a sense of how perceptive and involved she is in his actual care.
I would definitely look for another sitter if she continues to complain. You don't know her well enough to know how well she handles the stress of a yelling and screaming baby. It is this kind of situation that can result in the babysitter losing it and hurting the baby.
Be aware, too, that sometimes a person who reports that a baby is always yelling and screaming and suggests taking him to the doctor or does take him to the doctor is sometimes aware that they have a reason to be in pain. i.e. they know but can't admit that they or someone they know is causing the pain.
Based solely on your description of her description that he still yells and screams the entire time after a month in her care I suggest that this is not a good match and find a different sitter. I would be sure to learn more about the new sitter's ways of handling a sensitive baby who is teething. Ask many questions and know what the answers should be for you and your baby.
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H.L. answers from Portland on July 30, 2010
My children were in a home care situation..my son was 18 mo. old at the time. I let signs go, that I should have paid attention to. They were not harmed, but I don't think they were treated as they should have been. I think that you have your answer, by asking this question. Something isn't right in your gut. Start looking for new care and ask them how they would handle your son's personality. Do they hold, sling, rock, sing-to..do they have time to give him extra attention and things to do? This current set up would have me worried too. You must feel terrible coming back to the "crying reports" each day with no solutions from her. She should be able to problem solve and find a good solution on her own if you are paying her for care. If she has a question and wants to brainstorm with you, great, but you are paying her to keep him happy. Really, at this age, that's what you do with an 8 mo. old. :) Visit some other places. You will find a better fit.
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A.S. answers from Eugene on July 30, 2010
saying that your affectionate baby is "being difficult" sounds like a red flag to me, as well as of course saying that he's been "yelling and screaming." i agree with those who say look for another situation. it's also true that this is the age where separation anxiety typically begins - but your baby needs to be with someone who can really be with him through any feelings he has, who can watch him explore, hold him as much as he needs etc. it's definitely worth it to take the time to find someone who can love him (almost) as much as you do!
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L.L. answers from Seattle on July 30, 2010
I have been a part time working mama since my daughter was 3 months old. We have experienced many sitters. I don't get conserned when I hear that my daughter cried for a few minutes when I left, or was fussy about eating the first day with a new sitter - these are pretty normal "I want my mama" reactions. However, I have had one sitter report similar things you are reporting and I knew at once that what she was descibing was NOT my kid. I decided to give it one more day to make sure this was not a "new house/new people" temporary freak out and the description I go the next day was worse.
This lady looked great on paper, interviewed well, and had stellar references. But something was not right. Maybe it was a family member giving my daughter a bad vib, or the sitter - I will never know. But I never will go back to that lady. Whomever is at fault, it was not a good fit and my daughter was telling me in the only way she had. Next time, there will be no second chance - I will heed my daughter's message on day one.
Listen to your baby and find a different care provider. This could be as simple as a personality conflict, or as serious as a child preditor in the home. It is impossible to know the whole situation when your child can't talk. But your child is telling you something is wrong - be it minor or major, you need to listen to your baby.
I am really not trying to scare you, but after hearing the stories of some adult friends and what happened to them as children while in the care of daycare providers, I really feel that as parents we need to be looking for the signals.
I would recommend interviewing as many sitters as you can and setting up a day of two trial run with your top 3 choices and see how your son reacts with each. Babies are really perceptive and they will tell your what you need to know. If you like more than one, and so does your son, then you may have both a new sitter and a back up sitter - always a bonus :)
Best of luck!!!! Sitters can be the bain of the working mama's existance!!!!
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S.M. answers from Kansas City on July 30, 2010
This is a tough one. I belong to groups online where child care providers talk. Many of these woman are the salt of the earth. They work hard and love the kids and plan their curriculums and care, really CARE for the children. BUT, it seems like it's a common thread that so many of them just can't STAND for a baby to cry. I understand it's hard when it's not your own. It's a lot easier for me to hear my grandson cry. And yet, I get frustrated with him too.
Like you, I put him down and let him crawl around until he finds something to amuse himself. I try and find ways to make him comfortable or anticipate his needs and at 8 months we sometimes don't know. My grandson is 11 months and I still sometimes don't know. He's not a difficult child, but for others he'd be HORRIBLE. All the time I realize just how spoiled he is in this house because here he has 3 grandparents that all dote on him. We have a lot of incentive to figure out his little moods. But when I really step back and compare him to other babies I've had I know he would be difficult with anyone else no matter how loving they try to be.
There is no way she can whisper sweet nothings to him and make him fall in love with her overnight. He's been learning to love you more and more everyday for 8 months. But some daycare providers should NOT be caring for babies! For one thing I don't think she's doing you a good service to tell you daily how much he's crying. I hope she's bending over backwards to find solutions, at least to try. If she is he wil grow out of it and taking him to a new caregiver would make that even harder and take longer. If she is loving on him it would be bad to interrupt the transition. But if she secretly hates it, or not so secretly, then you might need to look for another provider. On these lists I tell you about... many of these providers talk DAILY about thinking about letting go of fussy babies. It really irritates me! It's not best for the baby and I've had some babies take longer than average to get to know us and like us. In fact, I'm 4 months into the most difficult baby I've had in YEARS! I've gone to her house even to see what she is like with me in her own surroundings. She's a completely different child! At her house she is sweet and affectionate with me. We have finally figured out that she just wants to be at home. Well her mother can't afford a nanny and I can't pick up my whole daycare and go to her mothers house with her.
Ask this provider right out what things she is doing to try and help your child and if she's considering letting him go. Ask her straight and don't mince words... Do you have the patience to see my child through this transition?
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A.D. answers from Norfolk on July 30, 2010
I babysat a difficult baby for 6 months, and came to the realization that I'm just not somebody who can handle someone else's child like my own. I have a toddler too (who was just over 12 months when I started watching her--she was 3 months and I stopped tending her when she was 9 months) and I simply could not handle her crying the whole day while still trying to take care of my son too. Some women (unfortunately I'm one of them) can not tolerate other childrens' crying as easily as their own child's. Talk to the babysitter and bluntly ask her if she would like to continue watching her, or if you should start looking for someone else. I know it will be hard to find other arrangements--but both of you will feel better if your baby is with someone who can give him the attention and affection he needs. Best of luck!
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