Being a nanny for the last ten years has allowed me to witness the good, the bad, and the out there when it comes to parenting. First time parents, breathe easy. I am here with a few tips that will help ease some of your parenting jitters, from when to feed your baby to maintaining a healthy relationship with your new nanny.
1. Co-sleeping creates co-dependency
This is a rather bold statement, but from my experience, children who do not sleep in the same bed as their parents past the age of one are far more independent than children who do. By having their own space at an early age, a child begins to understand what it means to not rely on their parent for comfort.
2. Have boundaries all around
This advice goes for both nanny and child. Make sure both your child and your nanny know where you stand on boundaries as much as possible.
3. Be silly with your baby
Being silly and being able to laugh at yourself is an important lesson to teach your children. This behavior helps them see and understand there’s a time and place for fun, and that perhaps the initial gut reaction of embarrassment we feel isn’t so bad after all.
4. Your baby is more capable than they seem
Your child is more resilient than you think they are. If given the opportunity, they can make simple decisions and accomplish simple tasks easier than you think. Trust that you have produced a smart and capable child.
5. Give your nanny more credit
Listen, your nanny has had experience in raising children — it’s their job. While the child is not theirs, it’s important to trust their advice on certain aspects of child rearing you may not have experienced yet. Give them credit where it’s due. It will make for a smoother relationship when they feel seen and heard.
6. Communication with your nanny is key
The parent/nanny relationship is intimate and important. When choosing your nanny, remember that being on the same page with all aspects of your child’s life is helpful. Try to be honest and up front with your nanny at all times. It creates a safe space they will feel is sacrosanct to the partnership you’re creating with them.
7. We are family, even the nanny
Unity is important. Do things together: Eat meals, play games, talk. As the old saying goes, “A family that plays together, stays together.”
8. Sugar is not your friend, because sleep is
Limiting the amount of sugar your child eats before bed time will help them (and you) sleep better and longer through the night.
9. Bust the bottle
Weening your child from the bottle can seem like a daunting task. I’m here to tell you it’s not. Once you feel your child is ready to stop using their bottle (usually around ten months), just get rid of them. Your child will adjust accordingly. If they don’t have the choice, they won’t be able to choose the bottle.
10. Let them cry
I know it’s difficult to watch your beautiful child cry, but it’s OK for them to shed some tears, especially if you’ve made sure they’re not injured, hungry, or tired. It’s healthy for your child to learn self-comfort and self-soothing by crying it out just a little.
11. Reading rainbow
Books are your child’s gateway to language. It’s why myself and other nannies read to them so often. Seeing words, pictures, and hearing you speak will help your child develop verbal recognition and ability faster than a child who is not introduced to books at an early age.
12. Get into a routine
Your child craves structure and routine. Since everything is completely brand new to your child, they need you to guide them. A routine is the best way to do that. Having a daily routine will also help your child to be more independent. By knowing their daily activities, your child is able to anticipate what comes next, like putting away their toys when playtime is over.
13. Remember: You’re the adult
When the going gets tough, and it will get tough, remember one thing: You are the adult. Your child will try to manipulate you (I’ve seen it plenty of times) and they may or may not succeed, but the important thing to know and remember is that you are in charge. It’s OK for you to say “no” and it’s OK for them to be unhappy. You’re doing them a service by showing them how the world works.
14. Be kind
Even though you may have a nanny, you are your child’s first teacher. Show them that being kind and gentle is good behavior. In my experience, children who learn kindness early grow into empathetic and fantastic young adults.
Edene Matutina has been a professional nanny for over ten years and has worked with numerous families. After working with both new and experienced parents, she believes in encouraging an open dialogue and frequent interaction between parents, the children, and the nanny.