Getting an Au Pair When Your Baby Arrives
Parents who only need childcare for their babies for a few hours a week often turn to the services of au pairs. Au pairs are usually young women, often foreign who have come to the UK to study or learn English, who live with the family and do light housekeeping and a few hours of childcare per week in exchange for room, board and a little bit of spending money.
Parents who are considering au pairs to look after their babies must be aware; however, that au pairs are rarely trained, qualified or even experienced in looking after babies. With this in mind parents will need to provide excellent training, discuss the schedule of the babies and make sure that the au pairs understand most aspects of their child rearing philosophies so that the au pairs understand what is expected of them and how to best help the family.
Providing TrainingWhen au pairs come to live with families, parents should be careful from the start to provide the proper training that the au pairs will need to best look after the children and babies. Parents should review with the au pairs how best to lift, feed, bathe and change the baby.
If au pairs need to drive somewhere then they should be shown the car, how to put babies into car seats, how and where to fill up on petrol, etc. If au pairs will be responsible for feeding a child then parents should show them around the kitchen, explain the child’s dietary needs and allergies, demonstrate how to cook favourite foods, etc.
If au pairs are going to have to bring babies outside of the house then parents should show them how to pack the baby bag, bring them around to typical locations such as the park or the library, etc. The more the parents can show an au pair, the more likely it will be that everyone lives and works in harmony.
Discussing Baby’s ScheduleBabies usually wake, eat and sleep according to some sort of schedule. To ensure that babies stay on their schedules both parents and au pairs need to be aware of what should happen when as well as understand why the schedule is important. Parents may, therefore, want to explain their baby’s schedule in detail and let the au pair know what will happen if the schedule is broken. For example, it might not seem like a big deal to a stranger if a baby naps an hour later than normal, but parents might know that this baby will not feed efficiently past a certain time so they need to be awake prior to that time and therefore their nap can not start any later than a particular hour. Again, the more information parents can transmit to au pairs the better cared for the babies will be regardless of which adult is with them.
Sharing Child Rearing PhilosophiesParents usually develop child rearing philosophies that apply even to infants. For example, some parents allow their babies to set the schedule while others try to mould a baby to a schedule. Some parents allow their babies to cry for a set period of time before going in to them while others go in to them immediately. Parents who have specific philosophies about babies and child rearing should be sure to share these thoughts with their au pairs. If they do not, then they run the risk of behaving in their own way with their children but having the au pair interact in a possibly different manner.
Au pairs can be life-savers for parents who need a few hours of time to themselves each week. However, au pairs are not necessarily trained to work with babies or children so parents must make sure to discuss all aspects of the baby’s care and schedule with them to help facilitate consistent caring techniques from everyone.