It's not always easy to know whether your child's caregiver is doing the job she's supposed to. To find out, you may have to do some sleuthing. Some parents who suspect something may be amiss rent surveillance equipment. But it's often possible to tell whether something's wrong without going to that extreme.
You may have trouble on your hands if:
• Your baby isn't happy to see the sitter and has become anxious and withdrawn. A regular caregiver can never replace Mom or Dad, but a baby needs to trust and love his babysitter. Perhaps your child and caregiver haven't bonded, or the babysitter just isn't providing the kind of warmth and comfort your child needs. As in every human relationship, having the right chemistry is important. (If you suspect something more serious is wrong, educate yourself about the signs of child abuse.)
• Your babysitter seems secretive about how they spent the day. How your baby and his caregiver spend their time shouldn't be a secret. When you come home, you're probably eager to hear about your child and what happened while you were apart. If your caregiver isn't forthcoming about it, either she's not good at communicating with you or she has something to hide. Even a caregiver whose English is limited should be able to convey the ups and downs of your baby's day, and will understand why you want to know.
• Your baby has been in one too many easily avoidable accidents. A babysitter must keep her eye on your child and know what he's doing at all times to prevent injury. She may be leaving your child unattended as he sleeps or plays.
• You notice your requests aren't followed. Both of you are working together to care for your child, so a caregiver shouldn't act as if she knows more about him and childrearing than you do.
• Your babysitter often shows up late. An undependable caregiver will leave you in the lurch time and time again. Find someone who you know is committed to the job and considerate of your needs. Tardiness and unexplained absences may mean she's unreliable in other ways as well.
• Your baby often looks unkempt and dirty. If your little one's caregiver can't take care of the basics, it may be a sign that she's not on the ball when it comes to meeting your child's needs.
• Her stories don't add up. Never tolerate someone who steals, lies, or deceives you in any way. You have to be able to trust your caregiver for the relationship to work.