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Child's Trouble Adjusting to Nanny

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Childcare > Nannies > Child's Trouble Adjusting to Nanny


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Child Not Adjusting to Nanny Share

I'm starting work again (as a GSI), so my five-month-old is starting childcare. We're in a share-care situation; the other baby is a year old, and I take my daughter over to the other family's house. But after two weeks of going every other day, my daughter is still not used to the nanny. Not at all, it seems. She fusses if the nanny holds her (even when I'm there), fights taking a bottle (even though she takes one at home) and spends enough time crying that she more or less monopolizes the nanny's attention. So my question for you more experienced parents out there is: how long should I expect it to take for her to get used to her new caregiver? Is she taking an unusually long time, or am I being unrealistic to expect her to adjust so soon? I would particularly appreciate input from people whose children started childcare at a similar age. Thanks.
In response to the parent who is concerned with leaving her little one at a family's house every other day, don't worry! I had my son when I was still in school during my undergrad, and I was lucky to have a friend available and willing to take care of him at her home while I was in class. She lived near campus and was really excited to see him for me. For weeks my son cried non-stop. He would only stop when I stopped by in between breaks and after class. At first I was worried and concerned that maybe something bad was going on, but then I realized that was not the case. Since my schedule was so sporadic with classes and meetings and such, I was not taking him there every day at the same time and for the same amount of time. Therefore, I was impossible for him to adjust. He was only two months when I did this by the way, and in not keeping him on a "schedule" I was making it more difficult for him to adjust. Give it a couple more weeks. If it still continues, then maybe you may want to consider going to the house and staying there with her for a couple of hours if you have time. Sometimes when a child notices that his/her parent feels comfortable and likes their childcare, they also feel safe there as well. I hope this helps! Monica

8-month old crying with nanny

This month I started dropping my 8 month-old daughter off with a nanny 3-4 hours one day a week. I'm doing this so that I can get a little break, and she can get used to being cared for by someone else. The grandmas have not been available to do this for us, so she only knows me and my husband.

We expected some stress for her during the adjustment period, but today one of the neighbors came over and said that they were concerned because they heard a baby crying loudly for a long time. Our girl is, according to Dr. Sears' book, a 'high need child' (this doesn't mean a child with special needs, but rather an active, sensitive child with the kind of temperment that needs lots of personal contact). One of the traits is that they don't do well with alternative care. I do not want to give up my much-needed 4 hour break, and I want my child to get used to being without me for a little bit, so I need to find a solution.

Has anyone dealt with having a 'high-need child' and getting them used to being left with a non-parent for care? Should I drop her off more frequently to get her used to it? I feel confident that our experienced nanny and mother of 6 is doing her best to try to meet my child's needs. She says she holds her or wears her the whole time, she takes her on walks, and she always reports back saying my child fussed a lot so I know she's not trying to hide anything from me. Any positive feedback on this subject is welcome. Thank you! Angela


My baby is more the low needs type, but definitely had separation anxiety (which comes and goes, happily it's at a low point right now). He's had other babies share his nanny, and my tips are also based on seeing what the other parents/babies have gone through.

You said you're dropping your daughter off one day per week for 3-4 hours - my number one suggestion would be to try increasing the frequency. One day per week might not be often enough for her to get used to the situation. I'm not an expert but babies don't have very much "long-term" memory at this stage, from what I understand. I don't think you should go much shorter than 3-4 hours, either, because otherwise by the time she gets settled in and relaxed, you'll be picking her up again, although I'm not totally sure about that. You didn't say what time of day you're doing this - from what I've seen, morning is usually best.

Second, if she has some kind of comfort object, even if you've previously restricted it to bedtime, I'd suggest letting her use it. Using his comfort blankie (which is normally confined to the crib) really helped my baby when I had to take him to emergency daycare when his nanny was sick.

Third (along the same lines) I would also let the nanny be a lot more permissive about snack treats. A well-timed graham cracker can make anyone feel better and I personally don't think this will cause a lifetime of eating disorders.

Fourth, music is a big help. My baby loves his 17-year old half-sister who babysits for him occasionally, and she always uses music to get him past the first few minutes of distress when we walk out the door.

Lastly, I've noticed that if the actual departure takes place when you are both of out of doors, for some reason, the panic level is much lower. I have no idea why!!

I think it is a really good sign, as you say, that the nanny is being open about your baby's difficulties. She can and will do better, and it's really good for both of you that she learns to trust other caregivers. Also, keep in mind that what sounded to the well-intentioned neighbor like crying for a "long time" could easily have been 10 or 20 minutes.

Good luck - and the usual "hang in there"! Fran


I don't have experience with high needs children, but here's my two cents: maybe you could leave your daughter with the nanny two (or even three) times a week for shorter periods, of an hour and a half or two hours. Maybe one of those times could be with you and the nanny for a few months (if this is affordable!). The routine of seeing the nanny more often would probably help to show her that this second care giver is a stable, recurring presence. Once a week may be too infrequent for a child of that age--or any age under two or so--to adjust to a new caregiver. Good luck! Jessica
Hi, I remember when my nanny called me at work from her home and held the phone up into the air so that I could hear my baby HOWLING in the background. This was about her third day with the nanny and even when I left in the morning I saw what I took to be a look of panic on my daughter's face. I left work immediately and drove the 10-15 minutes to where they were. Then I stayed to hold my daughter. I stayed an hour or two, and part of that time my nanny and I just put our heads together and both of us looked at my daughter, smiling. I told the baby that it was OK, that this was someone I knew and trusted, etc. etc. Of course she didn't understand my words then, but it seemed that she got the idea! The baby calmed down immediately, and it lasted. We never had those crying fits or panicked looks again.

So my suggestion is to spend some time together, both you and the nanny. Perhaps that will help make it seem that she is also part of the circle of caring people around your child. Bonnie


Perhaps you could try having the same sitter come over to your house each day for an hour for a few days so your child can really get used to her and remember her. If your baby goes a whole week in between visits from the sitter, she may not remember her and will have to get accustomed to her all over again. This will most likely get better as your daughter gets older. Hope this is helpful, and good luck!
Hi.....even though this temporarily defeats your purpose of getting a break, I'd stay with your nanny and child next time for say the first 3 hours and just all play together.....or walk together (maybe first with you wearing her and then switch to the nanny wearing her)..... Show your child how you interact pleasantly with the nanny so that your child can begin to trust who she is with. Then leave for only the last hour. The second week, do the same, but stay for only 2 hours and then leave.....etc. etc. Perhaps this will ease the transition for your child.....don't forget....she doesn't understand what is going on and only knows you and your husband.....so it just takes a bit of time and paitence and you should be able to have your well needed breaks soon. Good luck!
My son (now 27 months) has been in full time day care since 3.5 months. He is not a high need baby, but 8 months to one year was the worst time for separation anxiety. This was common with most of the babies in his daycare. This is the time when they are realizing that Mom is different from everybody else. Before 7 or 8 months, almost anyone could hold and cuddle my son, but that all stopped! So, I think this is, in general, a hard time for daycare, whether it be just starting, or continuing (although at our daycare the babys who started at this age did have a little harder time that ones who had been in for longer). I had trouble everyday, and my son was already used to everyone at his daycare. Here are some tips: My son had (and still has) much less trouble separating from my husband than from me. So, he could go from me, to my husband, who would take him to daycare. Also, if I was dropping off, it made me feel better to hang around until I knew he was OK. Usually, he would stop crying/clinging within 10 to 40 minutes. I saw several kids who would be crying for their Mom everyday at this age for a long time after Mom left, so I felt it was important to let my son know I would stay as long as he wanted me too. This is all gut feeling though- who know what is really best for the child? Those baby's that cried at 8-12 months are perfectly delightlful little fun-loving kids now that can't get to daycare fast enough and never want to go home! If this helps, it is MUCH easier now to drop off my son at daycare now. Now at 27 months, he says "bye", and waves pretty much as soon as we get there.

It is hard to get him in the car after daycare, because he and all his little friends want to play longer together. It gets easier. Good luck.

Also, about your baby being a high need baby, there is a local group who has a web site that can give you a temperment profile of your baby. Then if you like, there is a councelor that you can call and she will give over the phone counselling for about $60.00 an hour. You may know of this, and I got the information from this newsletter so it may be on the UCParnets web site. This helped me understand my child a little better. Especially since he is my only child, I thought he was much more intense than he really is in relation to other babys. I do not mean to question your diagnosis of your high need baby, but it was helpful to me to know where my baby was, tempermentally, in relation to others. If you would like more information, I can dig up the info. I have used the counsellor and found her really helpful. Good luck Lisa


Our now 2-year old reacted to new people similarly to what you describe, and was also a "high needs" baby (he had a hard time with strangers holding him at five weeks!). If you can invest the time to help your daughter transition into getting to know this babysitter, you may find it becomes much easier on her without her having to cry so much. I spent weeks with my son and a friend who babysat for us (for pay) one to two mornings a week for several months, and it really paid off. My son grew to love her, and now, though she hasn't babysat for us in almost a year, he still loves to see her and talks about missing her. On a different note, we realized quite early on that he had very strong feelings about people and that his feelings were not always the same as our feelings, so you may want to check whether your daughter has a particularly hard time with this woman even though you trust her. Though she really sounds attentive and thoughtful, she may just not be the right match. Inbal

10-month-old Crying with Nanny

My 10-month old daughter is a happy, funny, bright baby...except on Thursdays when I leave her with the nanny while I am at work. She has cried and screamed for over 30 minutes at a time, several times for the past 2 days she has spent there. Today was so bad that the nanny called me at work to say she just can't take it anymore. She doesn't want to continue taking care of my daughter.

I am (was) in a nannny share situation. I'd take her to the other baby's house on Thursdays, and the nanny and other baby came to my home on Fridays. (I work from home on Fridays so I can be near my daughter). But this morning (before she quit) the nanny practically refused to come to my house anymore because she thought my daughter got too fussy when she saw me(!). In fact, if I go play with her for 2 minutes and leave her with a toy and return to my work, she is fine.

I have seen the nanny with my daughter and she seems to be very kind, gentle and loving. The only thing I did not agree with her on is she asked me to bring my daughter to the other baby's house both days. I really want my daughter to be able to be in her own home on Fridays, and I would like to be near her, so I wouldn't agree to both days at the other house.

Is it normal for babies to go through this type of thing at 10 months? If so, one would think the nanny could handle it. I would say it is a simple case of seperation anxiety, but my daughter never cries with my relatives or neighbors when they babysit, even for long periods of time.

Now that I am left with no childcare for 2 days a week, I am unsure what to do. I am afraid of this happening all over again, and I don't want to have to keep getting new people. I am seriously considering trying to work part-time and take care of her myself the two days. Any advice would be helpful. angelica


Our now 2-year old reacted to new people similarly to what you describe, and was also a "high needs" baby (he had a hard time with strangers holding him at five weeks!). If you can invest the time to help your daughter transition into getting to know this babysitter, you may find it becomes much easier on her without her having to cry so much. I spent weeks with my son and a friend who babysat for us (for pay) one to two mornings a week for several months, and it really paid off. My son grew to love her, and now, though she hasn't babysat for us in almost a year, he still loves to see her and talks about missing her. On a different note, we realized quite early on that he had very strong feelings about people and that his feelings were not always the same as our feelings, so you may want to check whether your daughter has a particularly hard time with this woman even though you trust her. Though she really sounds attentive and thoughtful, she may just not be the right match.
I feel great sympathy for you! I had two caregivers quit because my younger son cried endlessly. Finally, with the third caregiver, he jumped right in and never cried a tear. So one of my feelings about separation anxiety is that it's developmental, and when a child feels secure and ready, it will melt away.

But here are a few additional suggestions. My children both did much better when they went out for stroller rides with their caregivers. I would walk half a block with thenm and then say good-bye. They might cry, but there were so many distractions that they quickly got taken up in the joys of the ride. Secondly, have a very clear and predictable routine helped. For instance, maybe your daughter is anxious because one day she is at home and near you and the other day, she is not home and you are gone. With my older son, I finally established that he would ALWAYS go on a walk in the stroller and return to the house where I was working. With my second son, I found that it worked best if I ALWAYS dropped him off at the caregiver's home. Good luck to you; I know this is stressful. Elizabeth


I nannied for another family, and their child had some separation anxiety. The child did much better when the parents were out of the house. When one parent tried to work in a home office, the child would hear a familiar voice and would get hysterical and cry outside the door until he was let in. I didn't object to the crying, but I did feel sorry for the baby...after all, he could not understand why his parent would not pay attention to him. To the child, this must not have made much sense.

I suspect that your nanny believes that your child needs to "get over" some of her separation anxiety by learning to be away from you. It sounds like you might have some other issues with the nanny now that she has become so frustrated, so perhaps she is not the one you should continue working with. But I do think that it can be much harder on a child to make repeated separations from a parent during the same day. Perhaps your daughter has bouts of crying during her time with the nanny because she has come to expect you to appear from time to time?


I am having the exact same problem with many of the same outcomes as you: Nanny turnover Crying etc. My 18 mo old son has gone thru 2 childcare providers. This last one lasted for 5 weeks. I have questioned their skills, my choices etc. Finally I really believe that my son just needs to be with me a little longer. He is able to be happy with his dad, our neighbors and his aunt and uncle. I am thinking that in order to have a child care situation work I will need to invest a lot of time where I am with him and the sitter. I know this is frustrating for the sitter though, but I think it is the only way around it. One other thought I've had is to choose someone who is a parent. Parents seem to get less ruffled by the crying and I know my son feeds off of others anxiety or frustration. Good luck.
It sounds like you're working at home, is that the case? I worked at home part time off and on the first 3 years of my daughter's life and found that having consistency as much as possible--one nanny who came to the house and cared for only my child was best. I think it's very normal for babies to have this anixiety but more so when they have one day here and another there. I also found that if I spent some time up front the first few times with the babysitter and my daughter just hanging out with them then she adjusted better--go to the park together, etc. Just invest some time so your daughter knows that you know and trust this person and you're not just handing her off.

When she was a little older--2-3 and I lost a babysitter I did a share with a friend from my playgroup whose babysitter would take the kids out to the park in the morning then back to my friends house for lunch and nap. That worked out because they played well together and my daughter liked this nanny. But I did spend some time with them up front to get her comfortable.

If you have to leave her to go to an office that can be harder. But again, I found with a long-term nanny that my daughter grew to know and love it was ok when I left. We had a few and the last one we still use one day a week as a share with her new family because my daughter is now 4 and goes to school 3 days a week.

I have to say though, that a good nanny, that is one with exp and one that loves kids will know how to deal with this. If she can't handle it I would find someone who will work with you.

Good Luck, I know how hard this is, trying to work and make sure you're child is with someone they feel secure with. Pat


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