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Using a babysitter from what age

(17 Posts)
Smerlin Wed 12-Mar-14 20:41:06

As the title says really. My Mum lives abroad and MIL doesn't seem to be keen on really seeing or looking after our DD despite the promises before birth that she would look after her all the time and would steal her away if we weren't careful(!)

She is only 4.5 months so it's not like we want to leave her much but it would be nice if DH and I could get out maybe once every month or two in the evening for a bit. We obviously take her with us everywhere in the daytime which is lovely but she goes to bed at 8pm so evening activities are pretty much out.

As MIL not interested, I am resigned to DH and I going out separately if we ever want to have an evening out so I know evenings out together aren't on the cards for a while but from what age would you start paying a babysitter and feel happy leaving your child with them? 1 year old? 2? older? We have no other family who can help as siblings all younger and no experience with children.

Theyaremysunshine Wed 12-Mar-14 21:50:35

Very personal choice, depending a lot on the type of babysitter and your baby's sleep pattern.

For example, dd is 10m and due to recently starting nursery is poorly all the time and waking lots, esp in the evening. I wouldn't leave a child I expected to wake at all. If she was sleeping well I'd leave her with either a family member, close friend, nursery worker. I think leaving them at that age is actually easier than later. DS is 3.5 and I wouldn't want to leave him with a stranger, he'd totally freak out if he woke to find someone he didn't know in the house.

If your thinking of a local sensible teenager, I wouldn't leave them until they can communicate their needs and not be freaked out by someone in the house (though would introduce them) so maybe 5/6 years. Doesn't mean it would be wrong, just not my preference.

If your dd will be going to nursery/childminder then this can be a great solution to getting paid, familiar babysitting services you can be confident of.

Smerlin Wed 12-Mar-14 22:01:13

No wasn't thinking of a teenager, not even sure how to find a good babysitter but figured I'd cross that bridge later on!

Good idea about the childminder though theyaremysunshine as she will be starting at a childminder from 10 months so maybe that could be a starting point.

ZuleikaD Thu 13-Mar-14 10:08:03

I wouldn't leave a baby under 1 with anyone in the evenings and I would only use a babysitter my child already knew after that, at least until 8 or so when they can understand the idea of a stranger in the house.

StormyBrid Thu 13-Mar-14 10:35:07

I've used a babysitter during evenings and during the day since DD was a few months old. But even that young, she went to bed no trouble and I didn't anticipate her waking up before I returned. Also the babysitter wasn't a stranger, it was a friend who sees her several times a week, so someone DD's always known. She's one now and I'd still be reluctant to leave her with anyone she didn't know. Watching with interest to see what the norm is!

Madratlady Thu 13-Mar-14 10:46:53

My ds is 12 weeks and I am happy leaving him with his grandparents at our house for an evening. We also have a close friend who I would trust to look after him hut only for an hour or two as she has no dc and whilst she's great with him and he is happy with her she is less confident with him than his dgps.

spritesoright Thu 13-Mar-14 13:46:51

DD has been babysat by friends since about 6 months or when she had a bedtime and would actually stay asleep. I don't see a problem with a new person babysitting as long as DD gets to know them first before you leave.
Having said that we tend to rely on people she knows and the one time we asked a friend's teenage daughter to babysit the girl seemed quite unconfident.
They muddled through and DD was fine. Now we have another child in the mix so getting a babysitter seems like a much bigger ask.

MummyLuce Thu 13-Mar-14 14:57:59

This is the reason we don't impose too much of a routine on our DD (age 20 months). From birth we have taken her out with us in the evenings, to restaurants, parties, the pub etc etc. only thing that's out are nightclubs (but no desire to go anyway) and the cinema. At 4.5 months is make the most of her wing very transportable and just take her out in the evenings! She'll just go to sleep in the buggy. My dd is a proper toddler now and we probs take her out past 8pm about twice a month. In fact, only 2 nights ago we were wandering along the south bank with my friends eating grapes at 9.30! I took her out alot more when she was 4 months though xx

Chopstheduck Thu 13-Mar-14 15:03:14

I used an agency babysitter from about 3 months or so. I felt happy enough with using someone I knew had been vetted.

brettgirl2 Thu 13-Mar-14 16:48:54

I first left dd2 at about 4 months with a babysitter. It was the manager from nursery though.....

cathpip Thu 13-Mar-14 16:57:38

I left both my dc from 9 months with a sitter, she was 17 but our next door neighbour whose mother also happened to be the dc's health visitor (was on speed dial for the duration smile). We did only go out for 2 hours to the local pub for a meal!

2beornot Thu 13-Mar-14 17:11:09

Def agree with mummyluce - make the most of the time they will sleep in their pram all night and just go!

Failing that I was happy leaving dd when I knew she'd go to sleep and was unlikely to wake. So for us maybe 9(?) months?

Smerlin Thu 13-Mar-14 19:12:14

Hmm quite a range then. My sister has offered to come and 'shadow' me a few times to learn what to do so she can babysit but not sure she'd cope if sth unexpected happened- although she is super sensible and grown up, she is only 18 and no experience with children. Even though DD has a good bedtime routine, you never know do you!

She is very noise sensitive so not sure if she'd be ok in a pub to just sleep through. We have taken her to a party but we put her to bed in her carrycot in the spare room with the door closed!

Smerlin Thu 13-Mar-14 19:14:35

Or I'll just wait and see if her childminder would do the very occasional evening.

ooerrmissus Thu 13-Mar-14 19:25:07

I think it's actually easier to leave a younger child with a competent person, than an older one. A baby will probably be asleep when you go out and may just require a bottle during the evening. Older children can try it on- with bedtimes, how many stories, don't want you to go out etc etc.

DS1 first had a babysitter when he was 3 weeks old. Now obviously most people will think that's demented but we had friends visiting and wanted to go out for dinner. I'd expressed a bottle for him to have whilst we were out. He knew no different. I then had a regular babysitter who was a retired maternity nurse- not only did I get to go out but got free advice and she washed up too. Marvellous.

Now both DSs are happy with an agency babysitter. Never had any problems. Friends who were very reluctant to leave children have, on the other hand, found that their now 8 year old will not accept a babysitter at all and they can only go out after she is asleep.

BertieBotts Thu 13-Mar-14 19:34:09

With my PFB I didn't leave him with anyone he hadn't met in advance until he was 2 and started at a childminder. Even then I wouldn't have been able to leave him with a strange babysitter, I don't think, not until he was over 3 or 4. I think he'd be fine now (5) as long as the person was engaging with him and interested in doing stuff with him - if they were just sitting there he'd be clinging to my leg and saying "Don't go mummy!" but if they showed an interest in minecraft or lego he'd barely wave me off at the door!

In retrospect, I think if I was in a situation like yours I'd be finding a local babysitter ASAP who can come and maybe do a practice session with her for an hour or so and then build it up to an afternoon or evening so that this is a familiar person. IME babies under about 9 months don't really have strong attachments and don't mind being looked after by strangers as long as they are responsive with food and touch, and it's not harmful to their development as long as they still have a main carer, ie, if they were in one of the old fashioned orphanages and constantly cared for by different staff who are perhaps not responsive, this is damaging, but one evening with a responsive babysitter and then returned to mum and dad for the other 99% of the time is not going to matter one tiny jot.

Or ask your sister. She will be fine. If something unexpected happens, she can call you (or call an ambulance if it's REALLY urgent, then call you). What's the worst that's likely to happen? Routine gets a little messed up? Is it not worth that occasionally for a night out?

Smerlin Thu 13-Mar-14 20:20:04

Well there are 2 things I am worried about I suppose
- she doesn't feed well, been bottle fed almost since birth but due to reflux, she fusses a lot about her feeds, needs to be coaxed into feeding
-she doesn't settle easily for naps in the day - we have to use white noise etc to get her to take a nap and even then she sometimes has a screaming fit first.

MIL knows that this is just 'her ways' and hasn't been fazed by it (DH was a tricky baby too!) but someone else might panic that there was something really -wrong- - she does put on quite a performance sometimes!!!

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