As a new mother, leaving your precious child in the care of a babysitter for the first time can be a little frightening. After all, you know how to meet her needs. Will a babysitter be able to do so, as well? However, all new mothers need a break from time to time. They need to rest, recuperate and, sometimes, to simply be in the company of other adults.
If you’re planning on leaving your baby with a sitter for the first time, here are a few tips for making the process go smoothly. By following them, you can have the peace of mind you need to truly enjoy your much-needed break.
Do your homework
The best way to ensure that your baby is in safe hands is to do some research ahead of time. Only hire a sitter if she comes highly recommended and has verifiable references. If you have friends or family with children of their own, ask them about their experiences with sitters. Is there someone they trust with their children?
If you don’t have this resource, consider a professional sitting service. Choose one that is highly reputable and does thorough background checks on all its employees. Interview anyone you’re considering hiring as a sitter well in advance of your booking date. Ask her about her experience and training. Ask very specific questions about how she would handle an emergency. Find out, as well, whether she has training in first aid and infant CPR. No one without this training should be left in charge of your baby.
Make your home safe
Every home with an infant or small child should be baby proofed. This is doubly important when you have a sitter. She may not know your routines — such as keeping certain doors locked — or be aware of hidden dangers such as cupboards that contain cleaning supplies.
Basic baby proofing includes putting safety latches on all kitchen, bathroom and laundry room cupboards; keeping curtain cords out of reach; locking vitamin supplements and medications; and securely fastening heavy or wobbly furniture such as book shelves.
To protect against burns, the Mayo Clinic also suggests keeping your hot water heater below 120 degrees Fahrenheit, using a cool-water vaporizer, and using safety caps on all uncovered electrical outlets. The safer your home is at all times, the safer it will be when your baby sitter is there alone with your child.
Write it down
You will, understandably, have lots of things to tell your baby sitter, especially when you are leaving your child with her for the first time. You will want to tell her where you will be, how you can be reached, when and what your child should eat, and how to help her fall asleep.
Unfortunately, most people can’t remember everything they hear when they’re presented with a lot of information at once. Tell your baby sitter everything she needs to know, of course, but have it in writing, as well. Reading through it with you will not only help her remember, it will also give her a reference to look back at, if she needs it.
The most important information to give your sitter, according to the University of Michigan Health System, includes your name and home address, emergency numbers such as poison control, the location of exits, the location of first-aid supplies and fire extinguishers, and your child’s food and medication allergies, if any.
While you may be tempted to tell your baby sitter every detail about your child’s needs and preferences, remember that she will only be with your child for a relatively short period of time. Try to focus your instructions on what matters most. Your baby sitter will need to know your child’s schedule, any medications she needs to take, and how to reach you at all times. Other things, like her favorite toys and favorite songs, are not as important.
Follow you heart
“Mother’s instinct” is not a myth. If you have second thoughts about leaving your baby with someone, or if, during the course of your time away, you feel unduly concerned, follow your heart. Call and check on your child if that relieves your concerns, or cut your outing short and return home. Most likely, you will find that all is well, but knowing for sure is important, especially when your baby is so new.
Emma Valle is the customer service manager at BabySuperMall.com, a leading online retailer of crib bedding, and other baby products.
The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog contributor’s. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Writers may have conflicts of interest, and their opinions are their own.