Separation Anxiety with Baby: Adjusting to Nanny

Working moms talk about how their baby adjusted to nanny and overcoming baby’s separation anxiety.



Original Poster:


“Hoping I can source some advice from the experienced moms who've navigated Nanny hiring in this group!  I am returning to work next week and we are getting a nanny for our little girl, now 13 weeks.  I found one who I think is great, with nothing but amazing references, and I truly believe will take care of her like she's her own.  We've been bringing her to the house for a few days for trial, but also to get them acclimated.
My issue - [my baby] is just not adjusting.  The second the nanny walks in the door, a fed and happy baby who just woke up from a nap starts crying and screaming, simply when she says hello.  I try leaving them alone to see if she can calm her.  I try being with them, but hands off.  I try holding her while we all play so she can feel comfortable.  The only successful aspect thus far is when the nanny takes the baby for a walk and she falls immediately asleep in the stroller because she's so exhausted from all the tears.  I can't even imagine leaving my little girl to be in this state for 8 hours.  And I don't want to all of her awake time to be scary and stressful, and all she has is sleep to find peace. 
So my question - I know all babies are different, but how much time should I give it?  Should I assume she'll be ok eventually and just keep at it?  Or is it crazy to think maybe my three month old has an instinct that I don't, or a real reason she doesn't like this woman, and I should listen to it?   I think the nanny wants more time just the two of them so she can break through to her, but I just don't know...
About [my baby] - she's very pensive, and definitely spends a lot of time looking at and "analyzing" people.  If she's overtired, she has a tendency to cling to me more, but most days she's playful and so good and happy.  I have friends who she doesn't know who have picked her up straight out of her stroller and walked around with her, with me or her Dad out of her line of sight, and she's fine, both men and women.  We are definitely very bonded though; I know it will be hard on her (and me!) for her to separate."




Crying is normal but the baby will adjust:

“Sorry to hear about what's going on, but we've all been there in some way or another, so you're not alone. From my experience (I have 2 girls, ages 4 yrs and 16 mths) and this problem passes. If you are even in the vicinity of your daughter when the nanny is there, she will scream for you and you alone. In almost every case, when you leave her with the nanny, she will cry for 10 minutes (or maybe even less) and then be FINE. 13 week old babies know the difference between their mom and a substitute caretaker (as opposed to a friend who comes over to say hi) so they will protest at first - it's normal. Especially if you're still nursing her, be prepared for extra loud protesting! BUT - they also learn very quickly to acclimate to a new person when mom is not available.”


Consider getting a nanny cam for a peace of mind:

“Eventually, it just becomes the new normal and they settle into the schedule of having you there for certain hours and the nanny there for others. If you need better assurance, get a nanny cam (and tell your nanny you're doing so) for a few days or weeks so you can see for yourself that [your child] is ok when you aren't there. It's tough leaving our babes to go back to work - but it all works itself out eventually. If you feel confident in your choice in a nanny, then have faith that your daughter will certainly adjust and be OK when she is settled in the routine.”


Babies will fuss to get mom’s attention. But once mom leaves, babies calm down:

“The first day of nursery school I had to help peel some Mom's out of the classroom because their kids were hysterical.  As soon as the moms left the building the kids were fine.
Can you practice exactly how he hand off would go?  Nanny comes in and you leave and don't come back for an hour?  Or, nanny comes in puts her in stroller and goes out when she comes back you are not home. 
My experience is kids tend to make a bigger fuss when they know it will get their moms attention. She knows eventually you'll show up and save her - how long is the longest you've given her to adjust?
Then the rest is intuition - maybe she just doesn't like this nanny - does she do this with anyone else?


It might be a development issue:

“She may be at the beginning of a developmental leap (check out the wonder weeks app).  Babies can be especially clingy at those times.  You'll probably find that in a week or two she's much more relaxed about the separation”


Create a distraction out of saying goodbye:

“My baby is older (10.5 months) and she easily adjusted to our nanny when I went back to work at 5 months, but lately she's been having a harder time parting from me in the mornings.   Something that has helped is watching me leave down the the steps of our apartment building and then standing at the window and seeing me wave from the street and she waves from the window.  For some reason she gets a huge kick out of it (she cracks up when i go down the stairs) and it distracts her from being upset. I think psychologically it also helps her understand that I've left.  But again - that might work better for older babies.”


Keep goodbyes short and brief:

“It's so hard going back to work, but harder for you than it will be for [the baby]. I agree with everything the other moms have said. The only thing I would add is when you leave try not to have a dramatic good bye. Say good bye, I love you, give her a kiss and walk out the door. If you have a hard time leaving and draw out the process, it sends her a signal that this is a sad thing.  It will take a couple weeks for all of you to adjust to the new normal. You got this! Good luck with the transition.”


Try another babysitter to see if it's your baby or the nanny:

“Seems like you want to try and figure out whether the babies instincts are to not like this woman, and want to honor those if that is the case, versus this behavior being about separation.  Have you tried leaving her with another babysitter? I think it could be telling. Is it all caregivers she will behave like this with, or just her?”

“I was going to say the same thing as [the previous poster] - and wanted to add one note - it doesn't mean you have to go through the entire nanny search again (which is exhausting!) to try it. Maybe you can simply find a friend who has a sitter they trust and leave her with Maya for a few hours on a weekend or evening to assure yourself that it isn't just this specific nanny.  And I echo the opinion to go with your gut - when it comes to your kids, it isn't always rational - even if they are the most wonderful babysitter in the world - if it doesn't feel right for you, it doesn't matter the reason.”


Be confident with your caregiver choices:

“Finally, going to work everyday with a small baby at home is really hard.  One thing you don't want to be worried about is the caregiver or whether the baby likes the caregiver. For me, I had to be solid in my feelings that my caregiver was the right person for my baby, or I couldn't focus on work.”


Finally, listen to you gut:

“Also, you have to go with your gut. I try not to worry about being reasonable or doing "whats right" with the care of my kids, or going with the crowd... if I get a feeling that something is off, I just go with it. Worst thing is I was wrong. Best thing is I saved my child from a bad situation.”


Related reading on PSP:

Separation anxiety tips for older children

Nanny’s first day