It can be difficult leaving your child with a babysitter for the first time. It's important not to do it too early, both for the child's and your own sake. However, you may feel a strong need to relax and do adult activities. Weight up the pros and cons and do what you feel is best.
Many psychologists maintain that small children should not be left overnight with a babysitter. Children around 2 to 3 years old have no concept of time, so it's hard to make them understand that their parents will be back the next day. On the other hand, you might really feel a need to rest and get a break for a while.
Further reading: Separation anxiety is a natural part of a child's development
13 tips for when you decide to get a baby sitter
• Common sense and consideration for the child are the most important factors in deciding when to start using a babysitter.
• If you are still breastfeeding at night and your infant does not want a bottle, wait until later to get a babysitter.
• Often the infant needs extra affection after the parents have left. Take the time it needs and notice if the baby stays worried for a long time. If so, it might be best to wait a while before having a babysitter again.
• Try only staying out for about an hour during the day the first few times and see how things go. This is good practice for all of you.
• When you finally get a few hours to yourselves, it doesn't necessarily have to be late in the evening. You could try coming home early from work so you don't have to stay out late and be tired the next day. Having a nice lunch or coffee in a café and then taking a long walk can be a lovely way to share quality time together.
• Make sure you explain the child's routines to the babysitter. Your child will feel more secure if the familiar routines are followed.
• Children feel more secure if they go to sleep and wake up in their habitual environment with the same people as usual. Don't leave your child with the babysitter while it is sleeping.
• Your child feel more secure while you are out if it has a soft toy or an item of your clothing to cuddle.
• Tell your child clearly when you go out. Don't secretly slip away. If your child cries, it's best to wait a while before going out. Feeling upset is natural.
• Choose a babysitter that you trust and that your child seems to like.
• Only leave your child with an older sibling if he or she is mature enough for the big responsibility of caring for a younger child. This shouldn't be done too early. You need to protect both of them from a challenging situation.
• Let the babysitter know that you can be reached on you mobile phone all the time.
• Grandparents may have their own ideas about what children can and can't do when they babysit. But you make the rules in your own home. On the other hand, you can let the grandparents decide the rules in their home. This usually makes sense to both the children and adults.
Having grandparents as babysitters
Becoming a grandparent can be one of the greatest experiences of one's life, and the relationship between the youngest and oldest generation can be wonderful for all concerned. It is a gift to both the child and the grandparents if you allow them to develop their own close relationship.
Many grandparents are still working the their grandchild is born, and some live far away. This can make it harder to maintain close contact and help with the babysitting. If you are lucky enough to have the child's grandparents living close by, they will hopefully be willing and able to babysit.
They might want to take care of their grandchild for one whole day a week, if your child is old enough for this. This could be your infant's free day when they don't go to preschool or have a child minder. And spending time together regularly will strengthen their relationship.
The grandparents might be able to help if your child is home sick. Make the most of the help that grandparents can offer. Don't hesitate to ask for help. It's good to be able to leave your child with someone you can trust, and this arrangement usually brings great joy to everyone involved.