My almost 7-month-old daughter just started going to a new sitter last week while I'm at work, about 4 hours a day 4 days a week. My MIL usually takes care of her either at our house or hers, but she's out of town for this whole month. The sitter is a friend of mine who has two children of her own, a 1-year-old boy and a 2 1/2 yr old girl; she babysits at her house and has a nice setup with plenty of room for the kids to play and sleep in separate areas.
The first week things seemed to go pretty well, although DD refused to take bottles of pumped BM--a first! She's been taking bottles since she was 2 months old. And yesterday my baby started SCREAMING as soon as she realized I was going to leave her there. It was awful. She cried continuously for about 2 hours for probably the first time in her little life. She's not a big crier and is generally a very happy, peaceful, and social baby. My friend wore her in a sling to try to calm her down and DD cried so hard she threw up a little in it. :(. She finally calmed down after eating some oatmeal (I've been sending her with some solids since she won't take any breastmilk) and finally fell asleep. Today she cried for a little less time and not as hard. I still feel terrible.
This is totally unprecedented with her. It's not even the first time she's been cared for by a sitter who isn't my MIL. Is this separation anxiety kicking in? Is it harmful for her to cry so much and so hard like that? I know my friend is as attentive as she can be with two other little ones and is genuinely trying to help DD settle down. This is my first baby so I have no experience with this.
Seven months is prime time for separation anxiety, so that's pretty normal.
Since you're only working 4 hours a day, and she's apparently willing to eat solids (oatmeal), keep offering both, but if she skips some BM, I wouldn't stress about it--as long as she eats something, she'll probably be fine. She'll probably just want to nurse more when you're around. (My kid became a major night time nurser when I started working again).
Thanks for all the input. I might try inviting my friend and her kids over to the house. I think it's partially because it's not just an unfamiliar person, but an unfamiliar place. I guess that's sort of a double whammy for a baby at this stage. I don't think she's starving while she's there, but I do get afraid she's not drinking as much breastmilk as she should be the days that I work. I'm sometimes away from her closer to 5 hours. The last couple of times I've nursed when I dropped her off and then again when I picked her up.
When she's with me she'll play happily on her own on the floor, on the bed, in the playpen, or in a rocker or bumbo seat for 15-30 minutes at a time. Sometimes even more. At the sitter's she only wants to be carried or in the sling.
I also feel really bad for my friend. Taking care of 3 kids under 3 is hard enough without one of them crying most of the time. Before we started I'd told her DD was an "easy" baby!
Could you hire a nanny to care for your DD in your home? That might help with the famiiar surroundings and all.
Can she bring your DD to you at work on break to nurse? This is another good reason to hire a nanny. It would be part of her responsibilities.
Did the caregiver try taking her outside, putting her in warm bath, take out kitchen tools that are safe for her to play with, music, a walk in the stroller, suck on an apple....these are all things that help "distract" my 8mo son when he's upset.
If I could afford a nanny I would have done that, of course! I'm trying to work something out so maybe the baby can stay home with a sitter twice a week, at least. Nursing the baby instead of pumping at work would be ideal, but it's unlikely she would be able to bring her to me, for various reasons.
She tried taking her outside and various other things I'd suggested. She has two other small children (ages 1 and 2 1/2) so some of those ideas might not work.
My MIL is coming back from vacation at the end of the month. DD does really well with her so hopefully things will get back to normal soon.