Essential info to share with your childcare provider about your baby gear
Written by Mia Weber
Childcare providers—from daycare to nannies and sitters to family members—can be a key part of any baby’s well-being and any new parent’s sanity. That said, even seasoned childcare professionals can’t be expected to know the ins and outs of every piece of baby gear, so setting them up for success is crucial to ensuring your child’s safety, your care provider’s confidence, and your peace of mind.
For many parents, gear usage becomes second nature, so you might think the functions of each piece are a snap (and that’s the sign of a high-quality product!) but it’s still worth taking the time to fully on-board your care provider—you may even want to store copies of your gear manuals in a folder with other emergency info (your emergency contacts, pediatrician’s business card, etc.) in a designated spot for any caregivers coming into your home.
To help you frame these conversations with your daycare, nanny, au pair, babysitter, or super-star relative, we’ve compiled some handy tips with the most important information about your baby gear—your stroller, car seat, and baby monitor and crib—to make sure to get on the same page about.
If your care provider is going to take baby out and about—this could be as simple as your nanny taking the stroller for a spin around the block for fresh air, or as complex as your mother-in-law toting baby along for their daily errands—you’ll want to make sure they feel comfortable navigating with your stroller. Keep in mind: All training you do in regards to your stroller should also include information on whether your baby should always be reclined or if it’s safe to be upright (baby should never be sitting upright in the stroller until they’re able to sit up and hold their head up on their own)
First, make sure you go over the stroller’s fold and un-fold—this will ensure that your childcare pro will be able to open your stroller up easily if you store it folded, and that they’ll be able to put it away with ease when they get home.
Next, go over the harness system—this may vary depending on whether you have a traditional stroller or a travel system featuring a car seat—and the footbrake. These are key points in actually keeping baby safe so it’s important to feel confident that your care provider feels confident. The standpoint should be that your caregiver should leave the harness adjustment as-is, but also let them know that if they must make tweaks (if baby is wearing extra layers, for example) that common sense should guide them.
And finally, go over convenience features in order to make your childcare pro’s life easier. Is there a phone charger built in? An extra large storage basket? Special accessories for bad weather? Make sure to give a demo. Many stroller brands have demo videos available online that can also be helpful here.
The Car Seat
The car seat is the No. 1 piece of gear to make sure that any person caring for baby feel 100 percent comfortable with using correctly—every single time. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit organization working to help families and communities keep kids safe from injuries, over half of car seats are installed incorrectly. Because the risk of error is high here, take extra care to educate your care team on how to install the car seat, even if they don’t intend to ever take baby in a car (you never know when an emergency might require them to do so).
The good news is that most reputable car seat manufacturers provide consumers with great resources to ensure safe installation. Take advantage of the safety manual included with your car seat, and check out your car seat brand’s YouTube and social media channels for demo and safety videos. Most brands have certified safety experts on staff and will be happy to correspond with you if you reach out in search of safety or installation tips.
Make sure your sitter is given training on using your snap-in base vs. a safe install without a base, also known as European belt routing (we advise doing some trial runs here in the event they need to unexpectedly jump in a taxi). And also give them the scoop on dressing baby to be safe in a car seat—this means no blankets or coats tucked into the harness. Advise the caregiver never to adjust the harness shoulder height, but if they feel a change should be made, have them plan to check in with you first.
Finally, many (excellent) car seats on the market right now feature a number of high-tech safety features to make sure the driver is aware if they accidentally leave baby in the car, if baby unbuckles themselves, or if the car is too hot or cold. If you have a seat with these features, it’s worth some extra training time for your childcare pro to be able to fully take advantage of them and make sure any supporting apps are downloaded to their smart phone. It also never hurts to have contact info for installation help on-hand, just in case they have an issue and can’t get in touch with you.
The Baby Monitor & Crib
What do nannies, babysitters, daycare providers, and new parents all have in common? They all breathe a sigh of joy when baby is soundly asleep for a nap. That said, any care provider tasked with putting your baby down for a nap, or for the night, needs to be comfortable using your baby monitor and setting baby up safely in their crib.
If you have a high-tech baby monitor that requires WiFi or app connectivity, talk this out with any sitters well ahead of time to make sure they have any passwords or login information they need, and to make sure they feel confident using the technology without needing to trouble shoot in the moment.
In terms of the crib itself, the safety concern mostly has to do with items in the crib and swaddling if baby is still in the age range of needing to be swaddled. Make sure your sitter or nanny knows which loose items—blankies, toys, pillows—aren’t safe to be in the crib at night (but might be fine when baby is awake and hanging out) and if a swaddle or sleep sack is part of the routine, do a couple dry runs (or even practice with them on a doll) to make sure they have a handle on how to do it properly.
Setting your caregiver up for success is just a part of overall baby safety. Be sure to take some time with those responsible for your baby’s well-being both at first meet and when introducing a new piece of equipment into your routine. It’s also a good idea to conduct regular check-ins to make sure your caregivers haven’t forgotten the details and are confident in utilizing all your baby’s gear safely and within the manufacturer’s guidelines.