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8-month-old screaming at settling-in session at childminder - advice please!

(26 Posts)
bean612 Sun 16-Aug-09 14:27:23

Hi there,

I took my DD for her first settling-in session last week and stayed with her for the whole time (an hour), but for the second session DH stayed for half an hour (everything fine) but as soon as he left she started screaming (he said he heard her start up as soon as he was on the landing outside the flat) and didn't stop till he came to collect her an hour later.

The childminder called me after 15 mins and asked for him to come and get her, and had also been calling him directly but it turned out his phone battery had died (he NEVER lets it go flat, so this was particularly bad luck). Anyway, I spoke to her and said I'd left him a message and sent a text and would keep trying him, but she kept calling back, even 5 mins before he was due back there anyway.

So I'm worried - first that DD isn't going to settle, but second that the CM got spooked so quickly. When I spoke to her this morning about what time to come on Monday for another session, she said "we'll see if we can resolve the problem" - not "how" but "if". So now I'm worried she's going to say she can't look after her and I won't be able to go back to work.

Tbh, DD IS quite mummy-centric and has no qualms about screaming when she's not happy - she has silent reflux and for the first 3 months of her life she screamed a lot until it was diagnosed and treated, so she is used to screaming iyswim. I think it WILL take a bit longer to settle her than other babies, but she will settle eventually... won't she?

Any advice about how to make the settling easier, or how to address the issue with the CM would be really appreciated. I'm supposed to be going back in less than weeks, and I'm really worried...

bean612 Sun 16-Aug-09 14:29:51

PS. Should have said - 1st session where I stayed the whole time everything was fine, she played with the toys and spent most of her time looking at and engaging with CM and CM's 7-year-old.

PPS. Make that "less than 2 weeks" - sorry, typing in a rush today.

limonchik Sun 16-Aug-09 14:41:08

Is she an experienced CM?

If your DD was very distressed and inconsolable, I can see why the CM wanted your DH to come back - and maybe she's a little concerned that you might be the kind of parents who are uncontactable or won't come and collect a sick child etc?

bean612 Sun 16-Aug-09 15:00:22

Yep, she's been CMing for 7 years.

I completely understand why she wanted him to come back, it's just that I was doing everything I could to get hold of him. Maybe I didn't make that clear enough to her. It was really bad luck about the phone, and I know it must have been stressful for her. I guess I'm just worried about whether she'll give us another go, and also what I can do to try and help DD to be less panicked...

MojoLost Sun 16-Aug-09 15:06:31

I think the simple answer is that your tiny 8 month old baby felt upset because you weren't there with him. You have two options:
- wait till he is older
- let him scream until he gets used to the situation.

AtheneNoctua Sun 16-Aug-09 15:18:34

I don't think calling your DH back was a good idea. It will just teach your DD that screaming will bring him back. 8 months is a hard age (for baby) to start childcare. It is going to be difficult for her. But she will cope in time. And I would have thought any childminder taking on an 8 month would not be surprised or unprepared for this situation.

Maybe she has always had older children?

Or, maybe you need more settling in sessions. Butm in my opinion, you should never go back because she screamed for you. But you might leave for shorter perios until DD learns that you come back. Maybe leave for 30 minutes a few time, then an hour... and gradually work up to the whole day.

bean612 Sun 16-Aug-09 15:19:40

MojoLost, are you saying I shouldn't go back to work until She's older? And presumably you're not recommending that I let her scream until She gets used to the situation, as that would be cruel?

She is not tiny, by the way - she's nearly 9kg, is in the 91st centile for height, can walk a good distance if you hold her hands, eats everything from falafel to roast pork, can make herself laugh by doing funny things, and certainly knows her own mind. By which I mean that of course she's still a baby, but she's taking steps to independence all the time, and being without me, with someone who will care kindly for her on 2 days a week out of 7, might be one of them.

limonchik Sun 16-Aug-09 15:33:11

She will settle in time - maybe you need to reassure the CM that this was a one off and you will be contactable in future?

Babies will cry at first - and 8 months is tough as Athene says with separation anxiety kicking in. Some babies do get more distressed than others though, and maybe yours does need a longer time to settle. Do you have time to do a few more sessions where you stay with her, then leave for 15 minutes/30 mins etc?

Is your dd used to you leaving and coming back, or is this the first time she's ever been left with anyone but you and DH? If so, of course this will be a huge shock for her - from her perspective she doesn't understand yet that you will come back. I would definitely sit down with the CM and come up with a plan together for settling in.

Laquitar Sun 16-Aug-09 19:22:48

Did you or your dh told the CM to call if the baby is crying alot? I don't see anything wrong with her calling you. Most parents ask the CM to do so in the first few days. If she didn't perhaps we would have posts saying she is cruel for letting a baby crying for so long?
Regarding the messages you are giving to the baby, if you say 'bye', then stand by the door, go back, say 'bye' again etc then yes you are giving wrong messages. But in your case i cant see how your baby would get wrong messages. Surely an 8 month baby cant understand the CM's phone call or the difference between 30 min and 45 min. So i'm sure she didn't think 'he he i cried and cm called daddy and he came 15 min early' grin.
Please dont worry. 2 weeks seems very short but honestly it is enough for settling in. You are doing it right by building up gratually and it should be fine. You will be surprised what difference 2 weeks can make smile

bigdonna Sun 16-Aug-09 22:10:26

hi dont worry if the cm gives her lots of cuddles she will start to feel secure in her new invironment.i have a mindee whom started at 8 months ,his mum did not want to settle him in so he came 6 hrs a day straight away it took a couple of months of screaming,but lots of cuddles and reassurance paid off.i now have a new baby 8months starting next tuesday we have only met him once but i feel he will settle in quickly.hope your dd settles soon if your cm does not have the patience then maybe shes the wrong one.my own dd and ds are really looking forward to the baby coming and my mindees are too!!!

bean612 Sun 16-Aug-09 22:31:02

Ah, thanks bigdonna - you don't work in South London do you?! grin Did your mindee scream every day for 2 months? Wow, you ARE patient. But I kind of figured that it's not completely out of the ordinary for some babies. It's not that I minded her calling me - of course she did the right thing, it was more that she seemed a little panicked, and that worried me a bit as I'd have thought that kind of thing isn't that unexpected, especially the first time a baby is left alone with her.

I think I'm going to suggest we try and do 5 days in a row, though of course I don't want to get in the way of her routine and other mindees - just short periods, say 15 mins first day, then 20, then half an hour, then an hour, then 2 hours. Or is that totally unreasonable?

bigdonna Mon 17-Aug-09 09:32:34

no that sounds ok bean612 i am having my mindee three days and another cm is having him 2 days.i am in mitcham not far from wimbledon.yes he screamed for two month he still screams alot now at 2.6.good luck

shoshe Mon 17-Aug-09 09:56:33

I have a little girl who screamed continued for 6 months!!!! She was 9 months. She is a full timer 5 days a week, and I did begin to feel she was never going to settle.

Then suddenly one day it just stopped!

She is now the happiest sunniest darling.

bean612 Mon 17-Aug-09 13:12:17

Well I left DD for only 15 mins this morning (just sat on a bench outside the flats) and when I went back she was beside herself with hysteria - when she saw me she just looked SO upset and angry and scared. I don't know what to do except keep persevering for short periods. The CM said she's never had a baby like this - most settle a bit with distractions: songs, games, etc. The CM's 7-year-old plus a 2-year-old mindee were dancing for her apparently, and the CM gave her some of her own toys to play with, rocked and her and played music for her, but none of it made any difference. I don't know what to do.

TheIronLady Mon 17-Aug-09 13:55:59

Just give it time, she will eventually settle I am sure. I have had various babies who have been through this and all have eventually settled.

I think if it is the first time the childminder has come across a baby that is not distracted by anything when screaming, I can imagine she may have been a little spooked, perhaps she thought baby was ill, I don't know.

Nevertheless, perservere and I think the way you are doing the settling in sessions is just fine. See what happens at the end of this week.

Good luck :-)

AtheneNoctua Mon 17-Aug-09 13:56:23

I can't believe your childminder has never had a baby like this before. This is totally mornal behaviour for an 8 month old baby who is being put in childcare for the first time. TOTALLY NORMAL. Go get a book on separation anxiety and show her what she quite frankly ought to already know.

Furthermore, you said:

"She is not tiny, by the way - she's nearly 9kg, is in the 91st centile for height, can walk a good distance if you hold her hands, eats everything from falafel to roast pork, can make herself laugh by doing funny things, and certainly knows her own mind. By which I mean that of course she's still a baby, but she's taking steps to independence all the time, and being without me, with someone who will care kindly for her on 2 days a week out of 7, might be one of them."

So I gather your DD is quite bright. My little thickies had just started to sit at this age and walking was no where in site -- with or without hand holding. So, I think she is capable, independant, and she she is shocked and confused about being dumped at someone else's house. She does not know what is going on. But, she does know that if she screams the house down you might come back. And given her apparent strong will, she is a bit more determined than most and screams for a bit longer than most. If this is too much work for your childnminder, God knows what is going to happen when your DD hits the terrible twos (which may be before she is 2).

limonchik Tue 18-Aug-09 16:21:48

Athene - I don't think it's that unusual that the CM hasn't come across a baby who is like this. Not that there is anything wrong or abnormal about it, but in my experience most babies do settle quite quickly, are easily distracted, and wouldn't be hysterical in 15 minutes. I have looked after an 8 month old who cried constantly for three days then was fine, a 9 month old who never really cried, and an 11 month old who cried for about 5 minutes each day for two weeks then was fine. All babies are different. If I started looking after a baby who was unconsolable I might be a little spooked too at first, but obviously would work at settling her with the mother and would get there in the end.

Loopyloub Wed 19-Aug-09 10:24:00

Bean612, it might be worth considering that she simply does not feel comfortable being left at this particular childminders house and might prefer to be at a different childminders house. It is hard, I had two settling in periods with my little man with two different childminders, the second one just didn't click with him and I could tell when I picked him up he was unhappy. The first worked out fine, a week of unsettled behaviour then okay.

Have you seen other childminders or just this one?

Either way don't feel guilty, we mums have to work to keep a roof over our kids' heads, so you must do what you think is right, never feel guilty for choosing childcare, just make sure you are completely happy before going to work.

bean612 Thu 20-Aug-09 14:10:58

Thank you everyone for support and advice. Loopyloub, we did meet several other childminders, and she was fine with all of them but of course that was before I actually left her alone with one, so it's hard to say whether it's this particular one or just the fact of being without me. I suspect the latter.

Athenenoctua, I suspect your assessment about how she feels when I leave her is completely right - shocked and confused is exactly how she looked when I went to collect her, and she is definitely a determined crier. Not that I leave her to cry generally, I hasten to add. Just that she had reflux untreated reflux for 3 months and cried loads then even when we were constantly holding and cuddling her. And she's had sleep problems recently which we've been addressing, never by leaving her alone to cry, always staying with her and comforting her, but not feeding or rocking her to sleep, which is what she wanted. She cried determinedly for an hour the first couple of nights, but much less the third night and things have been getting better since then.

But in terms of being left with someone else - we haven't left her alone with the CM for more than 15 minutes this week, but there's no improvement. If anything the problem is worse - CM said when she opened the door this morning, as soon as DD saw her she looked upset. DH then stayed with her while she played with the toys, but she started getting upset and crying while he was still there - I guess because she knew what was going to happen. And of course when he did leave, she howled non-stop while he was gone.

I was meant to go back to work next week but have put it off a week. The trouble is, I really can't see a miracle happening and I think it's going to take much, much longer than a week to sort this out. Which means I can't go back to work. And in my job there is only me and my employer, so if I can't work she is totally stuck. My maternity cover has temp work lined up so she can't cover me for longer, and from mid-September onwards is the busiest part of the year. My employer can't find someone else and train them up instantaneously, but I just can't leave DD with the CM if she's going to scream all day, I'd never forgive myself - I don't think the CM would have her anyway, and I can't say I blame her. If it was just crying on and off, or grizzling, it wouldn't be so bad, but she just screams and howls and looks utterly bereft. So I think I'm going to lose my job because I can't go back. What can I do???

Nettee Thu 20-Aug-09 14:21:13

oh dear bean, sounds like a nightmare. From my own experience though my DS was (a bit) like this in two child care situations and absolutely fine in all others. He went to one childminder occaisionally for 9 months and never really felt happy to go there whereas another childminder at the same time he really liked. DD also got worked up about a group we tried and got worse every week to the point that she cried as soon as we parked outside - but she loves other activities we go to. Anyway I suppose my point is maybe break the cycle and try another childminder. maybe spend more time with the new one together so your dd gets to know her better before you leave her.

FlapjakFairy Fri 21-Aug-09 10:22:44

Can you afford a nanny, even as a short-term measure? We have had to do this, my DS (9 mo at the time) was exactly the same with nursery. We tried for 5 weeks, and he just screamed the place down, wouldn't eat a thing, took one 20 minute nap in 5 weeks when he is a good eater / napper at home (sorry, I don't want to suggest that your DD will do the same thing, they're all different so hopefully she will settle down). Anyway, I gave up with nursery in the end and we found a nanny - I'd really been expecting the same reaction from him to this arrangement, but I just thought taht with one-on-one attention at least there might be more hope of distracting him. But we've had no probs at all with leaving him in his own home with the nanny - from day one, DS has loved her. He eats, he sleeps, and I come home to a happy baby every night. It is a HUGE stretch for us financially and basically makes working little better than cost-neutral for me, but at least I'll still have a job when he's a little older and we can think about nursery again.

bean612 Fri 21-Aug-09 22:59:00

Well I've put off going back to work for 2 more months, and am going to use the time to crack the problem. I don't know if it's the childminder, she seems perfectly nice to me, but maybe DD just doesn't feel comfortable with her for whatever illogical reason, so am going to look at other CMs and possibly nanny-shares (if we can afford it), and try to get started with settling in asap, and do it over a looong period, if the CM/nanny is agreeable. I think it's the only possible way...

moomillion Sat 22-Aug-09 19:01:50

hiya I am a childminder and it is definately the age that is adding to your problem as they just start to create firm attachments at this age and she will try her hardest to keep you there.
If you have gone back for her once she will continue. can you try and leave her for a full day as you would have if she was starting childcare properly. in my experience i have found the longer they are with the childminder/ the more frequent the better as she is thinking that if she crys and you come and get her then she can do this everythime and it will work but if she goes for a couple of days in a row she will remember the previous day whereas once a week they tend to forget pretty quickly and then when you take her back she will get upset and realise oh no they didnt take the hint they are going to leave me again.
it could as others have said be that she dislikes your childminder this could be for any number of reasons (dont jump to conclusions though it may be her smell the way she laughs or sings anything) so you have a couple of months to work through this either stick with it or start over and leave her for a few days in a row for a couple of hours so she gets used to being left sorry its long just trying to think of reasons... xx

sarahlou2012 Thu 29-Sep-11 21:22:42

bean this sounds like the mirror image of my 7 month old son! He has been over to the childminder for short periods of time building up to 3 1/2 hours and has just screamed the entire time he is there. Shes tried pushing him around in the pram, i took his activity centre over for him to sit in, taking him out for a walk, holding him, putting him down and just nothing seems to work so far. Some days when ive picked him up she has said that he hasnt been as bad and has just been grizzly most of the time rather than completely hysterical all the time and i think we are getting somewhere and then the next day he is bad again. She says she is happy to keep trying but that he is just not happy there and we dont know why. Most days he is ok for about 20 minutes after DH leaves and then suddenly kicks off! I just dont know how much longer to keep 'trying' before taking action of some kind. I just fear that if we go somewhere else he will be exactly the same but we would have confused him even more by taking him to another strange place. Same as you we also tried the sleep training and he cried for about an hour for 2 nights and then was ok so i thought this situation may be the same that he would cry for a couple of times and then be ok, but no luck!

vicki2010 Thu 29-Sep-11 22:14:17

bean, i am a childminder and have seen this before with friends who are childminders...children are very good judges of character and you would be suprised how they can 'take' to one person or another.

I am small and blonde and softly spoken and one of my friends is tall,well built and dark haired and quite loud, sometimes at our group we go to, the babies seem to gravitate towards one or the other and take a instant liking to one or the other...
she has had babies who have been very difficult to settle and i have visited her and the babies have stopped crying with me and visa versa. In my opinion just because your little one is having this much trouble settling doesn't mean she wont eventually but she may well have the 'wrong' childminder.
It is def worth trying some others but i would advise a few visits with you there,perhaps nip to the loo and go into the kitchen etc just so you are 'there' but not in her face iyswim?
Then perhaps leave and stay away for a bit longer then an hour perhaps a couple of hours,so over lunch etc. Then increase as you go along. The other children she had may well have freaked her out too aith all the excitement?
Anyway,hope it all works out for you and finally get back to work some time soon!!

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