"How do you settle in a new baby?" This was the question I put to my group of advisors, during one of our regular Monday evening meetings. I belong to the Lewisham Childminders Association (LCA) and we meet every Monday night to work together at becoming better at our job, and I am very grateful to Jackie and the girls for their time and advice.
So it was a bit of a surprise to hear the variety of responses: everyone seemed to settle new children their own way! Time frames ranged from just one or two days to six weeks, Mums were welcome to stay or asked to go promptly, new babies were initially looked after at the setting or pushed about in the park...
Which was the best way? I understood that clearly I had to work with the parents and around the child to work out the best way together - with one rule: having time allows everybody to be relaxed and adapt to the child's reactions.
So this is how I do settle in new children.
I like to make the child comfortable by offering at least one home visit just to chat and spend a bit of time with the family, as if I was any friend coming for coffee. Ideally, I then have a number of dates with Mum and Baby in the park or at my house or at their house so we can socialise, with Mum clearly in charge and me beginning to interact with Baby as it feel comfortable. Mum also gets to know my girls, and the other children in my care to start developing all these new relationships!
Then we can have short sessions (starting from about 10 min) during which the child is left with me, ideally these can take place in the park with me pushing the child in the buggy, gently talking and singing (in French of course - one more thing to get used to!) and when I feel comfortable I start picking up the child from the buggy and giving them cuddles!!
Progressively I take the child home for short periods of time, then a bit longer... until they feel at home and all feels good, safe, relaxed, interesting, stimulating, fun... which is when we can start to LEARN.