Communication with your baby’s other caregivers is vitally important for a host of different reasons, from ensuring that anyone caring for her knows what’s going on with her health to making sure she doesn’t start scamming both of you for extra dessert when she is a little older. One of the most important things about communication between caregivers, though, is that it’s only through communication that you can help to make sure that there’s consistency to your baby’s care, and to the rules and boundaries in her life.
Communicating these rules with the other caregivers in your baby’s life isn’t always easy, though, and making sure that those rules are followed through on in each of the environments where your baby spends a lot of time can be even harder. Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind the next time a situation comes up where it’s important to make sure you’re on the same page with the other people who take care of your baby, sometimes when you’re not around, from a casual babysitter, daycare worker, nanny, grandparent or other relative, right down to your co-parent.
When you and another caregiver are engaged in a your baby-hand-off, some of the parts of what you’re trying to tell another caregiver can get lost. If the other caregiver is already chasing after your baby to try to keep her out of mischief, they might not hear you at all. Taking a little extra time to drop your baby off a little early, or pick her up early, so the two of you have some extra time to chat, or even a group outing with the three of you, depending on your relationship with the other caregiver, can be a great way to talk rules through and make sure that you’re heard.
There aren’t many things parents take more seriously or more personally than their children’s care. This is generally a positive and important quality, but it can turn what should be fairly easy conversations about your baby’s care into something a bit more high-stress. Beyond that, it’s easy for a parent or primary caregiver to feel jealous of other caregivers or childcare providers, who often get to spend time with your baby that they would like to spend, and may get to see sides of your baby that they don’t see. Recognizing the possibility of this jealousy can give parents and primary caregivers the chance to make sure those feelings don’t get in the way of setting up the best rules and guidelines of care for your baby, in all of the places where she spends a lot of time.
Depending on what your relationship with the other caregivers in your baby’s life is, you may be the one who ultimately gets to make the rules she lives with, but your baby’s other caregivers spend a lot of time with her, and might know some different sides of her personality than you do. This means that, whether they officially have a right to be a part of decisions about rules or not, they may have insight into how to introduce ideas to your baby, or which rules she may or may not need to have enforced in her life yet.
Even more important than the fact that your baby’s other caregiver or caregivers probably know her really well, though, is the fact that the better the adults in her life get along, generally, the happier and more secure she will be able to be about her care. your baby probably isn’t going to understand the fact that you feel undermined if her regular babysitter messes with the naptime routine, or that you and her grandparents disagree about what she should or shouldn’t be allowed to snack on. She will pick up on the tension, though, and it can make transitions between caregivers difficult for her, you, and her other caregiver.