Keep or Fire the Babysitter?

Updated on January 22, 2019
K.L. asks from Carlsbad, CA
15 answers

My son is four months old and I recently went back to work (literally 4 days ago). We used the same babysitter that babysat our now 5 years old girl. The babysitter is a family friend who is in her late 50’s, doesn’t have a grand kid yet, and is only babysitting my son. She is babysitting my son at her apartment.

After picking up my son after work, my husband mentioned he noticed our son has a red mark on the side of his head. I then looked at it and it looked like a 2 inch purple bruise with red and yellow lining around the purple like it was healing. It was really soft on that spot compared to the outside of that spot where it is solidly hard. My husband said he asked the babysitter what happened and she replied she doesn’t know and noticed it herself - like it appeared one day. She also reassured that she is very careful with babysitting. My husband wasn’t as concerned at the time thinking it’s some type of mark like eczema as that’s what he has or that he got a rash or reaction from an insect bite. I disagreed with that but waited for two days to see if the mark change. It did in color and to the touch.

On the third day, I took him to the doctor to be examined just in case despite grandma and husband is not so concerned. It turned out it was a bruise like he fell and hit his head on the ground or his head collided with an object. However, luckily his skull is fine and not fractured otherwise he would be vomiting and the soft spot would be even more swollen with probably internal bleeding - something bad will happen within 5 hrs. I was furious to hear that but relieved that he is ok. He functions normal but sad to know that my son probably was crying so hard in pain and I wasn’t there for him.

I am now contemplating whether I should talk to the babysitter to tell her the do’s and don’t to prevent this from happening again or fire her and put my boy in the daycare. I know the babysitter adores my son and this is probably an accident, but what bothers me is she did not own up to the injury. She recently bought him a baby chair before the incident happened so he can sit up and watch tv. I really don’t like it that he is watching tv with her and he is already sitting. However, I don’t want to be too strict with her as she is a family friend so I did not say anything. My thinking is she probably put him in the chair without buckling him and stepped away for a quick moment is when he moved and fell. He just learned to roll.

I was furious with her before about an incident with my girl when she babysat her when she was 3 yrs old. She left my girl outside in the front yard playing all by herself while she do chores inside. She could not find where my girl was when I came to pick her up. I almost fired her.

Thank you so much for your time reading this long post.

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So What Happened?

I showed the bruise pics to some of my family and friends. All of them immediately know that it was a bruise. They were upset for me and told me to find a new babysitter. One friend even told me to file my babysitter to the Child Protective Services - I will not because she’s a family friend member and thank god my baby boy is ok.

I couldn’t get the thought that I could lose my 4 months baby out of my mind. I evaluated and decided to fire the babysitter due to the many red flags I’ve seen in the past. I felt that this is a strong warning sign and if I don’t do anything about it, it could happen again where I may go to his funeral next time. I don’t want to chance this and thank god for watching over my baby.

When I picked him up really early the day before she was let go (she didn’t know about being fired yet), I got the last red flag. When I arrived at her apartment, she was at the neighbor’s apartment with a phone in hand. Her apartment door was closed with my baby alone napping with blankets around him.

I want to clarify the incident about my 3 year old as some mamas thought she ran outside to play by herself. The babysitter let her play outside unsupervised. She knows exactly where to look for my daughter when I picked her up. It took about 5 minutes for both of us to frantically look for her with my face turned white! When I complained about this, she was defensive and always have an answer for everything. I told her not to let her play outside unsupervised again. Guess what? A week later I found my girl playing outside as I pulled my car up. Babysitter was washing dishes and said she was watching her from the inside.

Due to the fact that she doesn’t listen to my concerns and continues to put my kids in harm, I have to let her go. I had my husband went to her apartment to tell her and get the baby things back because I’ll get angry and emotional if I do it myself. It was sad to see all of the stuff when I got home from work because I really want this to work out, but I know I made the right choice.

My baby just started attending the daycare. It is always a bit uneasy with anyone new but so far they call me up to tell me any concerns or things they need from me to address my baby’s needs. Daycare is a lot more expensive but I cannot put a price on my baby.

Thank you all mamas for your feedback and insights!

Featured Answers



answers from Atlanta on

Find a daycare. This really isn't acceptable. Accidents do happen but to blatantly not acknowledge it? that's a problem for me.

Don't use a "friend". Use a BUSINESS.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Boston on

You can't be held hostage by the need for child care. You're not comfortable, and that's the point.

I was going to say to give the sitter the benefit of the doubt since the bruise looked like it was healing - which means it could have happened at another time. Kids roll and bonk their heads on the side of a piece of furniture, and it happens.

But a 4 month old watching TV and a 3 year old who was left outside alone to the point that she couldn't be located???? That would have done it for me - it's not like the child ran off when the phone rang, which can happen. It's that she was inside doing chores.

You need a more responsible sitter. You can tell her you're unhappy (or worried or furious) and that will be the end of the friendship - which is okay if you aren't going to run into her at other events. If you want to preserve the non-childcare part of the relationship, then you find another setting immediately. I know it's hard work and it's probably going to be more expensive than what you're doing now, but you're never going to relax with this woman watching your baby. Nor should you.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


I would find another babysitter - one who doesn't put a 4 month old in front of the TV while doing chores.

I wouldn't mix business and friendship. Find another babysitter or day care to take care of him.

Tell her that you don't want your friendship ruined over things, best to find someone else.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I suggest that putting him in daycare exposes him to another set of challenging conditions involving his safety. You know his babysitter but you don't know what happened. As your doctor said it's possible he fell and hurt himself. Ir's possible that the sitter really doesn't know how it happened. He cried. She soothed him. He calmed down. I've had that experience over and over with my grandchildren. I suggest your babysitter accepted that your baby was upset like he has been before and he calmed down just as he has before. I also suggest she didn't let your daughter play outside. Your daughter found a way to get outside. Normal for a child to explore and parent/babysitter not be aware.

Have you talked with her after you took him to see the doctor? I suggest you talk with her in a nonconfrontational way. Isuggest she's aware of your anxiety/fear and doesn't know how to respond. She likely feels defensive. I suggest you tell her what the doctor said about this injury. Tell her you are worried about his safety. Accept that she wasn't looking at him when this happened. Give her the benefit of the doubt and see if this helps her to reassure you.

I've watched 5 grandchildren from the time they were babies. They have had unexplained bruises. I've been fearful I will be blamed. My daughter has been somewhat defensive that I would blame her. We hugged each other, feeling secure because accidents happen.

I've seen one of them roll off the couch because we thought they couldn't roll. While I carried one of them I tripped and fell. One of them, a 3 yo, left her apartment house without me being aware, went down to the lobby, walked to the corner store. I looked and looked inside the building, never thinking to look outside. Her Dad saw her after I called and he was coming home. The clerk had called the police. A stranger was holding her, keeping her safe. Scary! She was safe! It was an accident. No one blamed me because something similar had happened to them.

Her Dad was afraid that someone could've taken her. Within the next hour or so, after talking about our fears, we relaxed and focused on relief she was safe.

If course you're afraid of what could've happened. What you're afraid of didn't happen. Consider that his babysitter took care of him, would've likely you if he had shown any symptoms. You waited 3 days before taking him to the doctor. Consider that the babysitter would have been concerned if your baby had shown symptoms of a more serious injury.

We cannot prevent all accidents. If you put him in daycare, he is likely to have a bruise or two. He'll have lost the consistent love he's getting now. I suggest love is as important as physical care. I suggest you consider that his bruising was an accident. An accident that could've happened in daycare. Look at the whole picture. You recently went back to work with all the stress that going back to work involves, It's natural that you would consider worst case scenario. Take a deep breath, know that in your experience that when she left your friends care, experience shows that she was safe. The one situation that worried you didn't happen again. Your friend, the babysitter, learned from the experience.

You know your babysitter. You won't know the several people who will care for him in daycare. Accident's including serious ones also happen in daycare.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I don’t know. Everyone is jumping on the time your daughter was outside but was that the one bad thing in 3 or 4 years? Even as a mother I’ve made mistakes. Haven’t you? And remember the more time someone spends with a child, the more time that something can happen. So 5 days a week for 8-10 hours a day vs us working parents who only have a couple of hours during the week and 2 days on weekends. These csregivers have more hours to fill. Now I would highly object to a baby watching tv. That’s not cool. But if that can be fixed, I’d look at the whole picture. She cared for your daughter full time and did a great job except that one day? That’s pretty good. So if that’s the case, Id give her one more chance. I’ve had many excellent nannies and there’s always something that bothers me but I take into account they are not making a fortune and can’t be perfect all the time.


I don’t know. Everyone is jumping on the time your daughter was outside but was that the one bad thing in 3 or 4 years? Even as a mother I’ve made mistakes. Haven’t you? And remember the more time someone spends with a child, the more time that something can happen. So 5 days a week for 8-10 hours a day vs us working parents who only have a couple of hours during the week and 2 days on weekends. These csregivers have more hours to fill. Now I would highly object to a baby watching tv. That’s not cool. But if that can be fixed, I’d look at the whole picture. She cared for your daughter full time and did a great job except that one day? That’s pretty good. So if that’s the case, Id give her one more chance. I’ve had many excellent nannies and there’s always something that bothers me but I take into account they are not making a fortune and can’t be perfect all the time.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I would have fired her when she left your daughter outside.
Kids get hurt sometimes. I know so many people who watched in horror as their child rolled off a bed. The problem is that she was unwilling to admit what happened.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Ask yourself how likely you are to trust that your child will be safe in her care, and when the answer comes back 'not very,' you have your answer about whether you should continue using her for childcare. Do you really want your child in a place where he is being sat in front of a tv and the caregiver won't tell you if an accident happens? I echo the idea that you look for a daycare (or even other in-home provider) which comes with high recommendations and you feel comfortable. You don't have to declare that she is fired and the reasons why; all you need to say is that you and your husband have decided to use a different childcare situation which will work better for you. If you want to maintain the friendship, feel free to issue an invitation for coffee or other time together. Good luck with it! It is so emotionally wrenching to find a good situation for kids while we are working to provide for them.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Our first 'home' sitter was a lady who just took kids in to make money. She came highly recommended, in that teachers used her - so we thought Ok, she must be good. We noticed that she was very relaxed, and we liked that - except that when my husband picked our son up, an older boy (she did after school care too) said "Your son fell down the stairs" and when my husband asked about it - she said that the boy's parents were divorcing, and he was telling tales for attention. It just seemed odd. My husband was doing drop off and pick up, and I think he didn't have that Mom-Gut thing we do, and he didn't want to worry me, as I was a first time mom. That thing you said about leaving a child outside? What did it for us was my mom was helping out when I had my second child, and went to pick up our first and found him waiting outside for her on the steps - unattended. He was younger than your 3 year old. That did it. My mom was furious. She didn't mince words.

So trust your gut. You are going to keep LOOKING for sings of trouble and not feel comfortable. What I would do is take your time to find the right fit for you and your son. You have care - so find the care that you really are happy with. Don't rush into something just because you feel pressured to. Take your time, really research it and visit and see how they are with babies. Take your son there and try it out. Tell your family friend you have an appointment to take him to.

When the time comes to remove him - just say you found something more convenient that works for you. You don't need to get into the specifics. Keep it simple.

Things happen at daycare too - accidents do happen. The thing is, if it's a good daycare - they have more people and they are focused on the children. There is no TV or doing chores - they are attending to kiddos because that's their full time job.

Good luck to you - it really sucks when this happens and it's so stressful, especially when you return to work. It will work out! hang in there :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I would have found another sitter when my 3 yr old was left outside alone.

I have a friend who had a pretty baby girl last January. She is a teacher and in March, she came back from maternity leave and left her new baby with an in home sitter who was recommended and vetted pretty well. In April her baby was left alone 10 minutes, rolled over and died. There is a huge controversy going on in my town now because it was ruled accidental yet it was clearly negligent. My friend lost her sweet baby.

You go with your gut. In my eyes, this is the 2nd incident you’ve experienced with this sitter. Do you really want to chance a 3rd which could be worse than the previous 2?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I'd probably find a new day care provider. The bruise doesn't concern me as much as her leaving your 3 year old alone outside, and her putting your baby in front of the TV. It just doesn't seem like she has good judgment when it comes to young children. It's nice that she adores him, but maybe she should just remain a family friend.

But, if there are many other good qualities that are not clear from your post, I suppose you could try to discuss these issues with her, and see if she seems receptive. For example, you could let her know that you only recently learned that TV isn't recommended for young children, and see if she is open to change.

You know her better than we do, was she defensive when you were furious that she left your daughter outside by herself? Or was she apologetic? Did she get it? Or did you feel furious, but keep your feelings to yourself?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I wouldn't be able to concentrate at work if I didn't have the peace of mind that my baby was safe while I was away from him. I would get new childcare.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I think the trust is gone so you need to look for daycare elsewhere.
The thing is - firing her will most likely end the friendship - so be prepared for that bridge to be burned.

When we were looking for daycare for our son when my maternity leave was up there was some news about two 6 month olds who had suffocated at a home daycare due to being put down to nap on an adult bed with pillows and blankets around them so they wouldn't fall off (the sitter was planning a birthday party for one of her own kids) and the babies pulled a blanket over their faces and blocked their breathing and they died.

That pretty much decided for me that I wanted a commercial daycare center where parents were coming and going all day long - I wanted sitters to feel like they were being watched -, had multiple care givers so people could take a break from screaming infants during the day and be less likely to shake a baby - and the place we went with had a fire station with EMTs across the street from the center (we think this is where our son picked up a life long love of fire trucks).

Was it perfect or anything like home?
No - but I figured their main job is to keep my kid alive till I can come get him - and they were excellent at doing that.
Of course some times there were accidents - and they had incident reports that explained how every bruise happened - and I trusted how they ran the place.

You need to be able to trust they are doing their best to watch over your child.
You just don't have that trust with your current sitter anymore - so it's time to move on and find another daycare situation.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I had a friend who watched my son when he was a baby for 2 hours a day while I got writing done. She would strap him to herself in a comfy baby carrier while she did some chores. He loved it. No TV was involved. She did put on music sometimes. Honestly, I would have not used this family friend again after she let your 3 year old play out in the front yard unsupervised. If it were me I would look elsewhere for childcare.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

It might have been an accident and if so she should have pointed it out. She should have done even if she thought it happened while in your care.

Left the child outside? For how long? Kids are quick at 3.

Finding a good sitter is hard and there will never be any guarantees.

I was babysitting my granddaughter and with my hand on the child she still dived out of her high chair while I was trying to buckle her in. She landed on her head on a hard tile floor. I immediately told her mom. (Well, she had quite the knot so it was obvious!)

I'd give her the benefit of the doubt given your history with her which seems (with one exception) to be good.

But having said that, I'd also be on the lookout for someone else. Someplace or someone where there is a little accountability and some structure.

I would also point out to her any new bruises or scrapes that the child gets at your house just so the sitter knows you are paying attention. Kids do a number on themselves when they first get mobile.

But trust your gut. We too often ignore it. Parents truly have a sense about such things that we tend to filter out. Listen to it.



answers from Los Angeles on

I would fire her for letting a 4 month old watch television, but not for the head bruise. It was probably an accident and it's something that could've happened to your son at daycare or even under your watch. These things happen.

It sounds like you haven't gotten over what happened when your daughter was 3 years old. This deep seated resentment will likely cause you to feel like you can't trust her and cause you to constantly worry about your son while you're at work, which isn't fair to you. It might also cause you to overreact to minor incidents that might happen under her watch, which is unfair to her. I think it's best for all parties involved if you found someone else to watch your son. Plus, if you're wondering if you should fire your babysitter, your gut is telling you something isn't right. Always follow your instincts when it comes to your kids.

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