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Discussion Starter #1
Dear Mothering Parents (and other childcare people),

As I write this, I'm shaky and nearly to the point of tears. I've found myself in a very difficult, painful position today, and I don't know what to do about it. I would greatly appreciate your help. Please bear with me, because this is quite a lot, but I want to give you all of the information.

I'll start by saying I'm a nanny. I've been a nanny for 4 years (all with babies aged 6 weeks - 3 years) and been taking care of children for a total of 7 years. I have five younger siblings, so I grew up around babies. I've been changing diapers since I was 7. On top of that, I'm writing a childcare book, am constantly researching parenting practices (because research is always changing), and I'm around babies and/or children nearly every day of the week. That's just a bit of background on me, to give you an idea that I'm not new to the baby game - far from it.

A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed with a new family who was looking for a part-time nanny for their infant (now 6 months). The father works full time and the mother stays at home, but they wanted someone to give the mother a break for a few hours each day (completely understandable). They seemed like nice parents, and educated, reasonable people. They told me they were also open to advice, since they're new to being parents and taking care of babies, and are always open to learning something new. I emailed them some detailed information on subjects they showed interest in (starting solid foods and nap time help). The other family I work for (I've been with them for 3 years - since their baby was 3-months) also gave them a glowing review on my abilities as a nanny. This is all to give you an idea that these new parents have had ample information to know that I'm good at my job and know quite a bit about what I'm doing.

Yesterday was my first official day working for this family. As I expected, the three hours I spent in their home were more of a household orientation than anything else. I learned where everything was kept, how to use their bottle sterilizer and bottle warmer, which toys their baby prefers, what his routine was, etc. I spent very little time doing my actual job - I didn't change a single diaper - but this is what I expected, it being the first day.

Today, I expected to be given at least a small window of time (30-60 min) for the baby and myself to start bonding and getting to know each other, but I wasn't allowed to do this in the slightest. Why? Because I WASN'T PERMITTED TO HOLD MY CHARGE FOR MORE THAN 3 MINUTES! This is how that scenario went down:

Mother would give Baby to me. I would sit down on the floor with Baby to play or to feed him. Baby would arch his back and scream. I would pick Baby up to comfort him (which instantly made him quiet and content). Mother would tell me to put Baby down and leave him alone so that he could have, "independent play".

Everything I know about babies tells me that they NEED to be held a lot and they NEED lots human contact - not to be left alone all the time. But every single time I tried to provide this for the baby, the mother told me to leave him alone.

Even though he clearly just needed some cuddle time (I know this because he was instantly quiet and content when I held him close to my chest), Mother attributed Baby's cries to gas, "stranger danger" (Baby being afraid of me - even though he was quite happy in my arms, and even smiled when I went to get him from his nap), hunger (even though he vehemently pushed the bottle away every time one of us tried to feed him), and him possibly knowing that he was going to have his 6-month shots that day.

The only thing that calmed Baby down was being held, but the mother asked my several times not to hold him because, "I don't want him to get used to being held all the time because I can't sustain that." And when, instead of holding him, I went to simply interact with him while he played on his floor mat, she asked me to leave him alone and simply watch him from a distance.

Now, I understand that we're all getting adjusted to one another. I have to build trust with the parents and the baby, and they need to learn to be comfortable with me. I'm fully aware that this takes time. I'm also aware that any parent I work for is going to have different opinions on what's best for their child, and for the most part, I'm comfortable submitting to a parent's will concerning their child. When it comes to most things, I'm happy to do what the parent feels is best (even though I might do it differently).

However, when it comes to holding a baby, I draw a line. To me, deliberately depriving a baby of human touch and contact is tantamount to depriving him of food. Countless studies have shown that babies - particularly infants - NEED TO BE HELD and that they shouldn't be ignored unless they're sleeping.

The mother has admitted to me that she's very attached to her baby (I don't see this as a bad thing - quite the contrary), and will have a hard time letting go (i.e. letting me do my job). She also seems to think her baby is more uncomfortable with me than he actually is (would he be smily and content in my arms if he was afraid of me?). On the other hand, she's also said that she wants her baby to be comfortable around other people, and that she does need a break. She's said that she wants us to bond (and hinted that she won't leave her baby alone with me until we have bonded), but she won't allow me to hold him! How am I supposed to bond with an infant if I can't hold him? That's how infant bonding works! I'm sure she didn't bond with him just by looking at him from across the room. She held him, she nursed him, she cuddled him, etc.

In all my years as a babysitter and nanny, I've never had this problem. Parents are usually very happy to see me holding and interacting with their infant. They smile and breathe a sigh of relief to see their baby comfortable in my arms.

With this family, the only time the parents seem to approve of holding Baby is to transfer him from place to place (i.e. from the crib to the floor), to feed him, and to burp him. Otherwise, they want him playing on his own. The mother's reasoning for this (apart from her not wanting to 'spoil' her baby) is that he's behind developmentally (at 6-months, he can barely hold his head up while on his tummy, his head support is still wobbly, he rolls over only after enormous effort, and can't sit up for more than a few seconds - what's more, he doesn't show much interest in developing these skills), and they want to give him plenty of opportunities to build his muscles (which they do by leaving him on the floor, on his back, with a couple of toys nearby - they don't do much of any tummy time because he screams the second you put him down on his tummy). They seem to view prolonged holding as coming in the way of his development.

The other (quite common) problem is that these parents see the 6 month old their baby is, as the 4 year old their baby isn't. Instead of treating him like an infant, they try to reason with him as though he's a toddler or young child.

This morning was so stressful that I'm still shaking, nearly three hours after leaving their home, and I feel on the verge of tears. I cannot bear to leave a baby to cry when it is so clearly the opposite of what he needs. Please, what would you do in this situation? I really need some wisdom and realistic advice. Thank you so much for your time.
 

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Honestly? I think that this isn't the job for you. If you are still upset 3 hours after leaving I can't see this situation ever working out. The parents have different ways of doing things - doesn't mean they are wrong, just that they see things differently. Since it's their child there's little you can do to change things. I would be honest with the parents and part ways on good terms.
 

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I agree too. I think this isn' t the job for you and you just can be honest and quit. Maybe mother gonna ask you why you do differently but don't even expect her to open to you.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I feel like it would be wrong to quit so suddenly - I've only worked a total of 5.5 hours for them. That's not a lot of time to get to know someone, and I do want to give this family the benefit of the doubt. It's possible that they would be open to advice and/or change in this area. It's also possible that I've only seen a very small piece of their parenting values and skills. The parents really are nice people, and I like them. It just seems that they're very misinformed and not very intuitive parents. I shared this with a few other people today - all either parents or nannies - and they were all shocked to hear that any parent would want their nanny to leave an upset baby to play by himself, and discourage their nanny from holding him or interacting with him.

In most areas of parenting decisions, there is controversy, and therefore, the decision is usually unclear and more, 'go with your gut' or 'trial and error'. Vaccines, diet, where the child sleeps, sleep training, clothing choices, hair & skin care, toys/activities, education, most discipline (with the exception of corporal punishment), medical care - all of these areas are subject to much debate, and very few of the decisions in these areas qualify as black and white 'right or wrong' decision. But purposefully depriving a baby of touch and human interaction does qualify as a black and white wrong decision. I cannot find a single recent study that has anything positive to say about this - particularly if it's optional! I can understand leaving a baby to be by himself if one has more than one child (twins, for example), is incapable of holding him (due to injury or lack of strength) for long periods, or is overrun and simply needs 10 minutes to calm down. But to hire a nanny to leave a baby to play by himself intentionally? To actively discourage said nanny from holding him at all, even to comfort a screaming baby? That just makes no sense to me. It actually reminds me of the horrible tragedy that befalls many orphaned babies - deprived of human contact for so many hours, they develop mental illness and have trouble forming any sort of bond with other humans.

I also have a feeling that the mother is feeling mixed emotions. I think she may be slightly threatened by me (as another maternal figure in the home), and also perhaps a little afraid that her baby will bond with someone new. Today, she wanted the reason her baby was crying to be that he was afraid or uncomfortable with me. So, instead of admitting the actual reason he was so disagreeable, she convinced herself that it was his 'stranger danger'. I think she probably does want a break (or she doesn't, and her husband is pushing her to take one anyway, because he can see how tired she is), but also wants to feel needed. That's a tough place to be, for both of us.

I think I'm going to give them one more week to for us all to get to know each other better, and if things don't look to be going in the right direction, I'll sit down and have a chat with them, giving them a window to accept change, but also acknowledging that they may not be the right family for me.

I will say this: being a nanny is easy. Handling parental relations is rocket science. The worst part about it is that parents never seem to realise that it's them who are the difficult part of the job - not the children.
 

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This is their child - they don't have to take advice from you. They don't have to accept change. They aren't doing anything wrong in how they are raising their child - it just isn't how you would choose to do it.
I understand you have been a nanny for quite awhile but believe me when I say that everything changes when you become a parent yourself. My sister too was a nanny - when she gave birth to her daughter she said she realized that while she thought she knew everything about raising a child she was wrong. While she was an amazing nanny she didn't totally understand the parent's perspective until she was one herself.
I know you love your job - it's clear in your posts. This isn't the family for you. I think you need to sever ties and leave on a positive note before you frustrate yourself any more.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Nothing wrong except for everything that goes wrong in a body with elevated stress hormones.

Hold-up, sorry I just read the second bit about the mother worrying about you bonding too much with the baby. She desperately needs to be evaluated for postpartum depression.
I'm not sure if I'd jump to the conclusion of PPD. She told me she does want me to bond with her baby, but in her actions, she made very little effort to allow that to happen. The most she did was allow me to get him up from his nap and change his diaper (once). It seems like she expects me to bond with her baby by simply being in the same room as him, with little to no interaction. Her words said she does want me to bond, but her actions tell me that she doesn't (or else, she has no idea how infant bonding works).
 

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I'm not sure if I'd jump to the conclusion of PPD. She told me she does want me to bond with her baby, but in her actions, she made very little effort to allow that to happen. The most she did was allow me to get him up from his nap and change his diaper (once). It seems like she expects me to bond with her baby by simply being in the same room as him, with little to no interaction. Her words said she does want me to bond, but her actions tell me that she doesn't (or else, she has no idea how infant bonding works).
Not wanting to hold the baby is a PPD sign.

If she doesn't have PPD and it's just a weird (and wrong, seriously, completely wrong) style choice, you could point out that babies can handle different styles of care from different people and one of the advantages of hiring a child care professional is to get someone who is completely focused on the baby, because it's your career, and can provide the holding the baby needs for best development. Just like eventually she'll probably have the baby going to school and getting the professional attention to things like calculus. It isn't that she's bad for not providing the holding (any more than she'll be bad if she can't teach calculus), it's that she's fortunate to be able to hire you to provide for her baby's needs.

If she does have PPD, she needs to hold the baby more. And needs someone who can come in and ease the burden of all the other tasks around the house while reassuring her that she's doing great, the baby needs *her*, she doesn't have anything else to worry about except being there with the baby. Because PPD will be telling her that she can't do it. That she'll do things wrong. That she needs to take care of everything, and that the baby will be better off if she doesn't hold the baby. And she'll think of it as needing a break from the baby, and people will love to give her that break, but what she really needs is a break from everything that *isn't* the baby and needs someone to step up with a mop and a vacuum.

Maybe start with the "I'm a professional, please use my professional skills that you have paid for" and gently ease out why she doesn't think she could hold the baby as much as you, the person hired to do nothing but be with the baby. See if maybe she needs a housekeeper instead of a nanny. Since you're going to burn out on this job if you can't hold the baby, it's worth talking yourself out of a job if it'll be better for the baby in the long run, y'know?
 

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Not wanting to hold the baby is a PPD sign.

If she doesn't have PPD and it's just a weird (and wrong, seriously, completely wrong) style choice, you could point out that babies can handle different styles of care from different people and one of the advantages of hiring a child care professional is to get someone who is completely focused on the baby, because it's your career, and can provide the holding the baby needs for best development. Just like eventually she'll probably have the baby going to school and getting the professional attention to things like calculus. It isn't that she's bad for not providing the holding (any more than she'll be bad if she can't teach calculus), it's that she's fortunate to be able to hire you to provide for her baby's needs.

If she does have PPD, she needs to hold the baby more. And needs someone who can come in and ease the burden of all the other tasks around the house while reassuring her that she's doing great, the baby needs *her*, she doesn't have anything else to worry about except being there with the baby. Because PPD will be telling her that she can't do it. That she'll do things wrong. That she needs to take care of everything, and that the baby will be better off if she doesn't hold the baby. And she'll think of it as needing a break from the baby, and people will love to give her that break, but what she really needs is a break from everything that *isn't* the baby and needs someone to step up with a mop and a vacuum.

Maybe start with the "I'm a professional, please use my professional skills that you have paid for" and gently ease out why she doesn't think she could hold the baby as much as you, the person hired to do nothing but be with the baby. See if maybe she needs a housekeeper instead of a nanny. Since you're going to burn out on this job if you can't hold the baby, it's worth talking yourself out of a job if it'll be better for the baby in the long run, y'know?
Definitely. I think I really need to have this talk and ask her what she's actually looking for in terms of help. If I wanted to be a parent's helper or a housekeeper, I would have looked for a job in that field ;) I'm aware (and have seen first hand) of the signs of PPD, and I don't think she has it. She's talks a lot about her baby needing her, and she does swoop in with him if he's fussy. The only problem is that her solution for his fussiness is to do everything possible to get him comfortable on the floor by himself - that's the goal - instead of giving him what he really needs, which is to be held. But when she talks to him and interacts with him, I can tell that she feels a strong bond and connection. She doesn't show any signs of feeling defeated or like a bad mother. Her house is very well kept (she even has all of her Christmas decorations up - right down to the tree and stockings) and she looks like she's taking care of herself. I really don't think she has PPD (although, of course, I could be wrong).

I've since done a bit of research on this whole 'independent play' concept with infants, and have found out that it's part of the RIE parenting philosophy. Many tenants of RIE are good (respect the baby as an individual, take time to observe the baby, don't bombard the baby with excess stimulation), but there are a few concepts that are highly misguided. They don't believe in holding the baby except for transport. RIE parents believe that during all non-feeding/changing/sleeping/bathing times, the baby should be encouraged to play by himself on his back. They don't believe in tummy time unless the baby can put himself in tummy time. They believe that the baby should be treated as an adult (i.e. don't do something with your baby that you wouldn't want to be done with you, like giving it a nipple to suck or swaddling). They believe that, unless touch/holding is intentional, mindful, and done with focus and love, it's un-beneficial to the baby (so, forget putting Baby in the sling while you clean the house - that supposedly is disrespectful to the baby). And if a baby cries, instead of picking it up, they believe in waiting (i.e. leaving a crying baby on the floor) while you observe the baby and figure out why the baby is crying. RIE parents believe that a baby often cries from emotional distress/grief - much like an adult - instead of crying because they have a need (to be held/fed/slept/changed/rocked/etc.). They don't believe in shhh-ing, rocking, dummies, swaddling, or much of anything that most infants derive comfort from. I've cared for more than a few babies in my time (over a dozen), and in my experience, the last thing a baby wants when he cries is to be ignored while the caretaker assesses the situation. My instinct has always been to pick the baby up first, and calmly (that is important) assess from there. To ignore the baby while assessing while they're crying seems completely insane and cruel to me.

The RIE parenting was developed in the 1970's, but it seems to be the latest parenting trend; much like attachment parenting was in the '90's. The only problem is that, unlike attachment theory, there is no scientific research to back this up, the information on RIE (i.e. what it really is) is very confusing and easy to misunderstand, and a lot of these practices, for infants at least, could end up doing lasting long-term damage to a person's psyche. Frankly, I'm shocked that parents are actually taking RIE seriously and practicing these these things with their very young babies - ignoring the heaps of scientific research that tells us NOT to ignore babies.

I think that these parents have just hooked on to the wrong information and don't have the experience (or the instinct) to tell them that this is not good for their baby. The only problem is, as a nanny, I cannot tell a parent that they're wrong. But I also can't in good conscience let this continue without saying anything. It's a very tricky place to be in.
 

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I mean this as nicely as possible... you are entirely way completely far too over-invested in your job.

I was a nanny when I was 20yo. The mother was from a culture that was foreign to me and a lot of what she wanted me to do was dangerous. Example: wrap baby tightly in a blanket, keep the room warm to avoid a chill, leave the baby on her stomach, and leave the room and don't come back for x-amount of minutes regardless of if the baby cried. I was terrified the baby would die of SIDS while I was alone in the house with her and I just don't have the fortitude to do CIO. I spent 6 months freaking out about what effect the parent's choices were having on their child. It was for the best when they fired me.

I had a friend who went so far as to use her own money to buy all-natural soaps and shampoos for the kid she nannied for. The little girl had eczema and the parents choice to use Western medicine to treat it. They weren't impressed with the research their nanny presented to them. What my friend did was crossing the line

Unless you have years of experience raising your own kid, or a graduate degree, you probably shouldn't be trying to "educate" the parents of the kids you watch. This isn't your kid. Move on.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Being invested in my job is what makes me a good nanny. The other families I've worked for have repeatedly thanked me for how invested I am in the lives of their children. There are many times where parents and I will have a different way of doing things, and (except in this particular case) I always default to them. For instance, one of my charges has always had trouble pooping. I've mentioned to his parents that a diet high in refined starch will make it harder for him to have regular, easy bowel movements. Have they cut out all of the white crackers/granola bars/chips/pasta/rice etc? No. Do I serve those things to my charge anyway? Yes. Because that's what they buy and that's what they want me to feed him. I don't buy products for him out of my own money (I will, after asking their permission first, buy him things like art supplies or milk; they pay for it; I also buy him a Christmas and birthday gift each year).

If a parent asks me about a particular topic, I will happily provide my opinion/expertise; if I'm not familiar with the topic, I will happily do research and get back to them. If the parent doesn't want my opinion, I don't give it. My goal is not to run the lives of my charges or to tell my employers how to be parents.

However, in this particular situation, the parents are doing something that I know in my bones is bad for their baby, and in this case I feel as though I need to at least broach the topic. If they don't want to listen, I will happily leave on a positive note and look for a family that has a more reasonable approach to infant care and nanny relations. But I feel as though I do at least need to give these parents the chance to change their mind, particularly since they did say on my initial interview that they're always open to advice and learning new things as parents.
 

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You are young and with a lot of knowledge but you see being a parent is not about knowledge. Is about a deep connection with your baby that will happens when Mama is ready. As a nanny you have to forget about everything you know and connect in the present moment with THE MOTHER. If there is any job for you to do with the baby, you have first to connect with that woman, listen to her, feel her joy...sadness..pain..etc. When you gonna be crying her tears, well then you will be able to work with the baby.
 

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Another idea, since you mentioned the baby is developmentally delayed is to suggest they get the baby evaluated by an occupational therapist or physical therapist. An outside professional may be able to talk some sense into these people.


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Another idea, since you mentioned the baby is developmentally delayed is to suggest they get the baby evaluated by an occupational therapist or physical therapist. An outside professional may be able to talk some sense into these people.


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The OP has only spent a few hours with the baby - not nearly enough to determine if the child might be developmentally delayed. I would imagine if she approached these new parents with her long list of concerns including that their child might be delayed it would put a quick end to their professional relationship.
 

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The OP has only spent a few hours with the baby - not nearly enough to determine if the child might be developmentally delayed. I would imagine if she approached these new parents with her long list of concerns including that their child might be delayed it would put a quick end to their professional relationship.

The impression I got from the first post was that the mother had told the OP that the babe had some motor skill delays and that was one of the reasons for all the floor time.



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Discussion Starter #17
You are young and with a lot of knowledge but you see being a parent is not about knowledge. Is about a deep connection with your baby that will happens when Mama is ready. As a nanny you have to forget about everything you know and connect in the present moment with THE MOTHER. If there is any job for you to do with the baby, you have first to connect with that woman, listen to her, feel her joy...sadness..pain..etc. When you gonna be crying her tears, well then you will be able to work with the baby.
That is a great point. I have made every effort to connect with the mother - particularly when the baby's sleeping. We talk about babies, life, the world, etc. That's another reason why I wish to give this job more time. Two days (despite my frustrations) is not much time to connect or get to know a person. I will admit that part of the reason I'm having such a hard time with this family is that this is the first time I've ever been told how to do my job and ordered about (do this, don't do that). My other families have all had a much more relaxed approach to letting me into their family. They never gave me orders or treated me with disrespect. They always, after orienting with their home and how they do things, gave me the room I needed to bond with their babies and do my job. This family is much more uptight, and treats me more like a maid/parent's helper than the nanny that I am.
 

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The OP has only spent a few hours with the baby - not nearly enough to determine if the child might be developmentally delayed. I would imagine if she approached these new parents with her long list of concerns including that their child might be delayed it would put a quick end to their professional relationship.
It was the parents who mentioned how their baby is developmentally delayed - I never said that. I would never say that to a parent. They mentioned the baby's delays several times (their reasoning for leaving him by himself on his back so much) and said they weren't super worried about it, but at the same time want to make every effort to help him move forward with his gross motor skills. I suspect they're more worried about it than they're letting on, and perhaps took the pediatricians advice to give him *some* floor time to mean that he should have as much floor/back time as possible.

I would be very interested to hear your take on this; is lots of back time helpful to a baby's developing gross motor skills? I've always read that tummy time is much more important, and that prolonged back time (during waking hours) actually impedes development. Is there something I'm missing?
 

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As you said. Since the parents brought it up, it's easy to say, "did you ever have him evaluated? It's free (in most states) and it'd be great to have an expert allay your fears.

Then the expert can make reasonable recommendations.
 
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