As your baby turns into a toddler, there are many transitions and awareness that occurs and must be addressed. One big development is the introduction of a new babysitter. Toddlers grasp the fact that “mommy and daddy are leaving,” but they don’t always understand why they are being left with a stranger or even that fact that mommy and daddy will be coming back. It’s up to you to introduce the new babysitter to your child in advance and to reinforce, to your child whenever date night or an evening/day out occurs, that you WILL be returning home to them. The following guidelines are helpful when it comes to transitioning your child to a babysitter:

    • When hiring the sitter for the first time, have her/him over for an hour or two to watch your toddler while you do chores around the house


    • Arrange something fun for them to do together, so it’s an enjoyable experience. It will help to make your child feel more comfortable when you leave


    • If your child comes to you, take him/her back to the babysitter and confidently say, “She/he’s here to play with you.” Go back to doing what you were doing


    • Before you go out, make sure you tell your child the babysitter will be coming. Start with, “Remember [babysitter’s name] who came to play with you last week? She/he’s going to come again to tonight while mommy and daddy go out.”


    • Have your child pick out a special activity to do with the babysitter. A favorite movie, a new game or toy, etc


    • If you’re going out at night, in advance of the babysitter’s arrival, go with your child to their bedroom and together, pick out pajamas for them to wear to bed and a book to read with the babysitter. Remind them that you will be sure to come in and give them a kiss good night when you return. Some children, for reassurance, ask that you wake them up when you return, so they know you’re back. You can agree to this, but if you don’t want to wake a sleeping toddler (and, let’s face it, who does?) you can tell them (if they ask the next morning) that you tried, but they just wouldn’t wake up.


    • Make sure you don’t prolong your leaving. After you brief the babysitter on dinnertime, bedtime, and routine, kiss your child good bye, tell them you will be back soon, and leave. The longer you stay in the house while the babysitter is there, the more aware your child is that you are leaving and gives them time to build up anxiety. And, be matter of fact with your child. You’re leaving to go out and you will be back later. Don’t feed into their tears or pleas for “just one more game.”


Know that if your child gets upset or distressed before you leave, that’s natural. It may happen the first time or even the first several times you go out. As long as they calm down after you leave and engage with the babysitter, they will be fine. Chances are your anxiety over leaving them will last longer than theirs does!


Copywritten by Jo Frost

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