Setting Expectations With Family and Caregivers

0-6 Months

Maybe your family lives only 10 minutes away and wants to help care for your baby. If that is the case, consider buying a lottery ticket, because you never know when your lucky streak will end. If you don’t have family nearby but still need child care, you’re in luck too. Licensed child care programs are also a great way to provide care for your baby. In either case, it’s important to have the conversation about how you want your baby to be fed and cared for. Use these tips to get the discussion started.

Tips for talking with family members

Family can be a mixed blessing when it comes to infant care. On one hand, they love your baby and are often the most affordable caregivers you can find. On the other hand, your family culture or family dynamic may mean they believe different things about how to raise your baby than you do. And since your baby’s eating habits will be hardwired by the time he’s 3 years old, you want to get it right from the start.

Keep in mind that your family members have good intentions. They are there to help, but they also want to feel appreciated. Make sure they know how thankful you are for their help, and compliment them when they follow your lead.

Setting expectations early

It could be that your loved ones have not cared for a baby since their own were born (yes, that could mean you). Fortunately, we know a lot more about babies now, and it’s possible that all your loved ones need is a quick update on the latest in baby care and food parenting. The best way to approach this is to have an honest conversation with them and explain why you want things done the way you do. To get the conversation started, you can ask these five questions about feeding and care.

If they are visual learners, bring them information from your baby’s doctor, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta or the American Academy of Pediatrics, or suggest they browse If they’re like most supportive family members, they’ll be thrilled to know that they are helping you keep your baby healthy and safe (and be glad you still turned out OK despite the way they might have done it when you were a baby).

Tips for talking with child care providers

Just like you have to follow certain guidelines at work, so do licensed child care programs. Talk to them about these guidelines, and other rules specific to their practices, so you can be on the same page—things like feeding schedules and what types of foods they offer or restrict. Remember: These regulations are meant to keep your child safe and healthy.

If you send your child to a day care setting, keep in mind that they care for several children each week, and each baby has his own set of needs. Any information you can provide in writing will help them best provide for your baby. This might include a list of your baby’s basic daily schedule, how much breastmilk or formula he usually takes at feedings, and a few ideas for when the baby is fussy or has gas.

Establishing an open relationship

You can take comfort in knowing that most child care providers are very knowledgeable about taking care of babies. Even so, it never hurts to bring in articles from credible sources like your baby’s doctor, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s or the American Academy of Pediatrics to give your caregiver a refresher and let her know why you want things done a certain way.

It also never hurts to give your caregivers the occasional thank-you note to show your appreciation and to help establish a lasting and positive baby caregiver relationship.