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Worried About New Babysitter For 8 Month Old

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Dr. Laura,

My DS is 8 months old and I have been lucky to be able to stay home with him so far but soon I will go back to work (as a university professor). I am a single mom. I've found a daycare I like and have a plan to gradually get him adjusted there at the end of March. But in the meantime I have two out of town work trips (one a job interview) during which I will bring him with me but leave him with sitters for a full work day. For both he will be with sitters he doesn't know at all and there's no time to get him warmed up to them. Is there anything I can do to make this easier for him? I've tried leaving him with sitters for up to 2 hours a time and he gets very upset when he realizes I'm gone. I'm dreading this on his behalf.

Thank you!


I'm so sorry that you and your son have to go through this. Naturally, your son will react badly to being left all day with a person he has never met. 

So is there a way for him to "meet" the sitter in advance, so that person feels safe to him?

The best thing, of course, would be to bring a familiar sitter with you, even though you will presumably have to pay her plane fare. Since you have two trips coming up, this would be my recommended approach. It may seem like overkill, but you will be so glad you did it. It will free you up to concentrate on your work, and it will give your son the confidence he needs so that he doesn't develop separation anxiety in the future as a result of these two separations.

The next best thing would be to leave your son at home with his grandmother or another trusted, familiar, adult. You will be separated longer, but at least he is in a familiar place.

The third best thing is to skype with the sitter in advance. It won't be like meeting her, but it will be better than nothing.

Finally, be sure that the sitter you choose is warm and compassionate and is not upset by your son's crying. If she is able to hold him and empathize with his upset, he will feel safer with her. If she insists on distracting him or worse yet just leaves him in his stroller to cry, the trauma of missing you will be much worse.

And of course, be aware that after these separations, your son may have a harder time with the adjustment to the daycare center, so take that slow.

I wish we did not live in a culture that required us to separate from our babies like this. Good luck!

Dr. Laura

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