Preparing for your toddler’s first non-family babysitter

Maybe Baby is totally at ease with Grandma, who has looked after her since the newborn stage. Maybe she spends an afternoon each week at auntie’s, too, and doesn’t bat an eye when you walk out the door. It’s great for everyone involved when a child knows and is comfortable with her sitter, but what happens when you have to leave her with someone new?

Separation anxiety is common in toddlers Baby’s age, and while she may separate easily from you when left with familiar people, she may be more apprehensive when a new sitter comes on the scene. Baby doesn’t know what to expect with this person, and may initially be resistant or even a bit afraid. Moreover, even if you totally trust your new sitter, and feel confident that Baby will have a good time with them, it’s easy to find yourself feeling nervous about the new sitter yourself.

Here are a few ways you can help Baby feel safe and secure in the presence of an unrelated sitter – and, hopefully, reassure yourself a little in the process, too.

  • Schedule an introduction: Before the new babysitter shows up ready to do some serious babysitting, let Baby get to know them a little in a familiar location. Inviting your sitter to your home to play and learn the ropes gives Baby the home-court advantage, and gives you the chance to show the new sitter around. You can also meet at a fun spot Baby enjoys to help her make positive associations with this new person.
  • Talk about what to expect: Though Baby won’t fully understand what’s about to happen, letting her know a new sitter will be looking after her is a good idea. Tell Baby you’ll be going out for a bit, but you will be back soon, and that she will be well taken care of while you’re away. If you won’t be back until Baby is in bed, tell her that you’ll see her in the morning
  • Have a plan: There’s no such thing as being too prepared when it comes to leaving your little one with someone new. Make a list for the sitter so they will feel confident, which will help Baby feel more at ease, too. Having a plan can help to reassure you, too, and if having a prearranged check-in time when you’ll chat with the sitter for a moment will help you feel more comfortable and able to enjoy your time away, that can be helpful, too.
  • Make it fun: You know Baby best, which means you’re the best equipped to pick the right activities for her to do with the sitter so she has fun while you’re out. Keeping her happy and entertained will help keep her mind off your absence.
  • Be positive: When it’s time to go, keep your tone gentle and upbeat. With a new sitter, chances are you’re a bit nervous as well, but keep any anxious feelings hidden from Baby before you leave. Let your goodbyes happy and brief, and stay confident in your decision to allow this new person to mind her. Remember, Baby will be ready and waiting with a big hug when you return!

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