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Nursery babies left alone to eat - should I worry?

(35 Posts)
makedoandmend Tue 04-Aug-09 17:23:29

Today I went in to the nursery my 8mo is going to to help her settle (posted about it yesterday).

I basically tried to stay in the background, bf her as needed just so she could have good associations with the nursery (on recommendation of nursery owner).

While I was there they had tea time for the babies. One of the two nursery staff in the baby room went off to prepare the food in the baby room kitchen (adjacent to the baby room with an open door so they can hear what's going on), then came back with two of the baby's food, she then returned to the kitchen to finish the younger baby' food. As the babies started eating the the other staff member went to change the nappy of one of the others in the sleeping room, effectively a darkened bit of room through an archway. This meant both staff couldn't see what the babies were doing.

This left the babies alone feeding themselves in their high chairs (I was in the room of course) for about four or five minutes. As far as I could see they were eating mashed something or other not sticks of finger food, but it still worried me a bit.

Am I just being a worrier? It's just that I know, through previous experience of a relative, that when a baby or child has a proper choking episode they don't make any noise - if you're in the other room the first you know about it is coming back in the room to find a struggling baby who can't breathe, or worse.

Should I say anything? I just wonder if it's a bad habit they've got into.

Lifeinagoldfishbowl Tue 04-Aug-09 17:28:39

Yes I would mention it - I used to work as a room leader and this is not good practice.

kidcreoleandthecoconuts Tue 04-Aug-09 17:32:56

They probably don't think twice about doing it. I would say something...but how and what I don't know....I'm not very diplomatic!
My sister's DS is at nursery and she arrived to pick him up one day to find him sat on his own, covered in vomit while the nursery nurses were sat writing notes out of view.
My sister took him out of the nursery that day and found him a new one. She was very concerned about neglect/lack of attention the children were receiving.
If you're worried you must speak to someone there.

atworknotworking Tue 04-Aug-09 19:20:35

Sounds like their time management is a bit pants. I can understand if one of the carers went to prepare food, but the other carer should have stayed until the other carer was in sight of the babies before she went to change a nappy, the other thing that concerns me is that you were kinda left alone, I don't wish to be offensive to you but as an unvetted and non staff member you should have been within sight of a staff member all through your visit. Even as a CM if I need to attend to a child in another room, I ask the parent to come with me so that they are never alone with any of the other mindees, it may seem a little over the top, as I have known many of the parents for a few years now, some are teachers, police officesrs, social workers I know they have CRB checks but while they are in my setting they abide by my rules. Not one has asked why, they know that their children are safe always.

Children should be supervised all the time when eating it only takes a second for a child to choke, I would ask for clarification on the feeding, and their policy for visitors to the nursery.

PortAndLemon Tue 04-Aug-09 19:24:51

I would certainly mention it.

makedoandmend Tue 04-Aug-09 19:31:31

Thank god I'm not being over sensitive - your replies have given me confidence to talk to them. However, I'm desperately trying to think how I would word it without getting the girls into trouble, but at the same time be taken seriously.

They're very, erm, placating at the nursery - it's all sunny, breezy smiles (senior staff) and I find them a bit difficult to speak to tbh - when people speak with a constant smile on their face I find it completely unnerving.

oh god - it's only her first week and already I'm complaining. I can see the look on my dh's face already sad

drzoolander Tue 04-Aug-09 19:42:42

Your priority is your child not the feelings of the nursery staff. I would definitely speak to them and if you're not feeling 100% comfortable with where you leave your child you should change nurseries.

makedoandmend Tue 04-Aug-09 19:49:43

You're right of course drzoolander - my dd comes before their feelings. I just want to get the tone right so that the girls at the nursery learn from it and rather than seeing it as a moaning mummy.

Also my husband thinks I complain about everything (he's the 'no everything is fine thanks' type - even when he was served a wopping piece of glass in a pizza I had to complain hmm).

Dottoressa Tue 04-Aug-09 19:53:15

I would mention it. I wouldn't have done that when mine were babies at home - and if a mother wouldn't do it, a nursery shouldn't either. FWIW, I'd be tempted to find another nursery if I'd witnessed that.

teamcullen Tue 04-Aug-09 20:11:28

I work in a nursery as a cook, not a childminder, although Ive had experence working with children of all ages and also trained as a childrens nurse for 2 years. But in our nursery we always have to have a member of staff in the room at all times. I sit with the children at lunch but as Im not employed as part of the care staff I would not be left alone with the children.

Also The room where children eat is seperated into 2 parts- toddlers and babies. There has to be a member of staff on both sides as we class them as 2 rooms.

This nursery has very bad practices and you really need to report this to the management. Dont feel bad, you are about to entrust your most precious thing in the world to them. You need to know that they are safe. If they are funny about it, is it really where you want to leave your baby?

makedoandmend Tue 04-Aug-09 20:54:06

Dottoressa/teamcullen - I'm beginning to have doubts but it's the only nursery near us with the right hours (and seemed to be the best one in the area according to Ofsted - all the other's had very lacklustre reports). I don't drive and both dh and I will have to leave at 7.30am for respective workplaces (dh will get train).

Now starting to feel a bit wretched about the whole thing.

ChicPea Tue 04-Aug-09 22:12:05

I would report them to ofsted actually. Babies and children can choke even on mushy food. Too dangerous.

ChicPea Tue 04-Aug-09 22:13:39

Of course to the nursery manager and owner AND Ofsted. Completely unacceptable. Completely.

purepurple Wed 05-Aug-09 08:19:49

I work in a nursery and feel this is very bad practice.
Please mention it to the manager, as the staff may be unaware of their bad habits.
You could say something like ' I couldn't help noticing that the babies were left on their own while Y was in the kitchen and X changed a nappy. Is this standard practice or was it just an oversight? I would be worried about my baby choking in these circumstances. I don't want to get anyone into trouble or make a fuss, but this has worried me.'
Most nurseries would take this seriously and tell you it was unacceptable and that they would ensure it didn't happen again.
If they try to fob you off with excuses, go somewhere else.

makedoandmend Wed 05-Aug-09 08:53:30

Thanks everyone - and thanks purepurple for the wording suggestion - that sounds perfect.

Will be off to the nursery about 1ish so will hopefully catch up with the manager then. I'm going to go in for mealtime anyway to try and help settle dd as she refuses to eat there so I'll be able to watch over the whole process.

Will post how it goes!

purepurple Wed 05-Aug-09 15:19:51

How did you get on?

makedoandmend Wed 05-Aug-09 20:06:03

Sorry - was going to post earlier but got caught up reading a bunfight intelligent discussion on one of the other threads.

Well - I took your tone purepurple and then wittered a bit more (when I'm nervous I just can't shut up) - so it all came out in a bit of a rush. Had to speak to one of the senior staff rather than the owner who was away.

She said she thought it was an oversight. Then I stupidly said that my dn had had a very nasty choking experience (turned blue, saved by other dn say to dsis 'mummy dn has turned a funny colour). She immediately seemed to seize on this as the reason for my concern. It's not - I'd be concerned anyway - but I was using it as an illustration that babies don't splutter and cough when they're 'choking' - it's quiet and therefore you need to be in their eyeline.

However, when I dropped in later to pick dd up (another failed attempt at settling in but that's another thread grin) one of the senior staff stopped one of the other staff leaving the room before another member of staff got back (if the member of staff had left the room it would have meant one staff member for five babies) - so not sure if it was for my benefit or not - but I was still a bit hmm that the younger members of staff don't get the numbers rules let alone the feeding baby rules iyswim.

So I'm going to have another word with the owner on Friday when I see her and check that the message re feeding has got through and also to check that the younger members of staff understand the rules (in the most diplomatic way of course!). I think the problem is they rotate some of the staff - so a lot of them are used to working with toddlers - which is a whole different ballgame.

BTW purepurple (or anyone!) - if you have any suggestions for settling in I'd be delighted if you could help me here

teamcullen Wed 05-Aug-09 20:30:53

Seems strange that somebody had to be reminded about staff ratios after you mentioned it. I mentioned this thread to my manager today. Her advice was report them to Ofstead.

It doesnt matter if staff are rotated or level 2/3. I know its hard when your in a position that you need a nursery and its not so easy to just go to another nursery, but definatly speak with the manager and make sure she understands your concerns.

good luck. (having a look at the other thread now)

Mummywannabe Wed 05-Aug-09 20:34:37

Glad you spoke to them. Do mention to the owner too, good nurseries would have already spoken to the owner, if the owner is hands on. Just a quick note that i wouldn't focus on the younger staff when you speak about the numbers, lots of staff seem to need reminding of numbers by senior staff, and it will again take the focus of the real concern which is are staff:child ratios being met.

Sorry to hear your having trouble settling. I am too with my DS and I work there!

atworknotworking Wed 05-Aug-09 21:02:18

Glad you talked to the nursery about the feeding and lack of staff issue, just as an add on when you mentioned about the staff rotating a lot, I'm pretty sure that staff working in a baby unit have to have specific baby experience and training now, I'm sure someone on here will be able to clarify this. Also if staff are moving around a lot, how do they manage the key worker system? your child will need continuity of care which means someone familiar each day that they will be able to build a relationship with and in turn your childs key worker will get to know your childs needs etc.

I wouldn't rule out looking at other nurseries agian I'm glad that you have checked out the ofsted reports, but please bear in mind that some of the ones that you have looked at could be quite out of date as inspections are only every 3 years and a lot can change over just a short time.

makedoandmend Wed 05-Aug-09 21:05:25

Thanks teamcullen - not sure how I do the ofsted reporting - and whether I could do it anonymously. They were last assessed a couple of years ago so I'm hoping that it's due again soon.

Mummywannabe - thanks I will speak to the owner - her son has sf which is why she's off (he's 19 though so I doubt she'll be off long)
Sorry to hear that you're having problems too despite your close proximity!

MollieO Wed 05-Aug-09 21:08:30

There are good nurseries around and there are some very popular ones where I live. I registered for one before ds was born but in the end chose a CM as I was worried about the age and experience of the staff in what was supposed to be the best nursery in our town. In our circumstances it was important to know that the same person would be looking after ds every day because of his health issues. I also worried about staff ratios (and turned out I was right to worry with this particular nursery on a number of points).

It was the right decision for us. I also found that the CM would do flexible hours so I didn't have to panic if I was stuck on the train and was late for collection.

makedoandmend Wed 05-Aug-09 21:27:44

How did you find a good CM MollieO. I still haven't discounted this - but I've tried to trawl through the ofsted list and found it not very helpful. Don't know anyone who uses CM's so can't get any kind of recommendation.

Scarfmaker Thu 06-Aug-09 00:13:54

I'm a childminder and although my two 2 and a half year mindees can mostly feed themselves I would never leave them for a second.

My phone has rung sometimes but I would never answer it. My own kids are around but I need to concentrate on "food time".

I cut up everything like grapes, carrots, cucumber, cheese, apples, as these are bad choking hazards.

I can't bear to think of babies being left to "feed" themselves. For your 8 month old this wouldn't be possible. (Sorry) but that's my opinion.

MollieO Thu 06-Aug-09 00:56:18

I got a list from the council here.

I trawled through the list to see who did the hours I wanted and who was in the right area. Then I visited them. I had two recommendations. One could only do one day a week and the other one took on ds and then a month before I was due to start back at work she called to cancel.

I was faced with going through the list again and picking people at random. I went with my gut instinct - how professional CM seemed, state of house, interaction with ds and mindees etc.

I met a couple that I wouldn't have let look after my dog but on the whole thought the standard was very good. Ds was a very sickly child and his CM was happy to have him provided he wasn't infectious. I was happy to take him too at times when maybe he could have done with staying at home but I felt it was a home from home. Something I would never have done with the nursery.

CM also willing to administer things like asthma meds and do physio exercises. He also had delayed development which the CM took time to understand ds'limitations. As well as the usual healthy eating I also wanted the CM to use washable nappies and again she was happy to do so. The CM got praised in her Ofsted report for dealing well with children with SN (which was ds).

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