Trust Issues with Nanny/Babysitter

Parent Q&A

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  • Nanny lying?

    (11 replies)

    We recently started a nanny share (our baby is 5 months old) with a nearby family and with a nanny that we really liked; things had been going well though admittedly, my baby still cried when we drop her off but the nanny has seemed put together, organized, and communicative with us. Recently, while the other family is out of town, care has taken place at our home. The past two days, the logs she keeps are misaligned with the log that our baby crib (Snoo) captures. She notes times when my baby was awake, "fed," or that they went on a walk but the Snoo log shows it's still on and moving or soothing the baby (the sleeper won't be on unless the swaddle is strapped into the clips and it's been manually turned on, it won't soothe unless the swaddle is strapped in and there's noise -- i.e. crying). On one day, the Snoo log shows my baby was asleep for 6 of the 9 hours in the day, when she accounted her asleep for 4 of the 9 hours. The other day shows my baby was in her crib for 7 of the 8 hours with the nanny, the nanny accounted for her sleeping 3 of the 8 hours. The nanny's written log does not reflect times the snoo was on or soothing (nor does she say anything differently when I arrive home). The other family hasn't mentioned any issues with her and in fact, everything I've heard from them is very positive (they spend more time with her because the share is at their home). Part of me feels I should speak with her and ask about the discrepancy, the other part of me thinks that will simply drive her behavior underground (she won't use the snoo but will maintain the "leave the baby to sleep all day" or otherwise be neglectful). I've been clear with her I want my daughter's naps to last no more than 2 hours and that I want her wake windows 1.5-2 hrs. On both days, the log shows that the Snoo was stopped only an hour at a time both days. I guess what my questions are -- what would you do? If you did choose to part ways with the nanny, would you tell the other family why? Would you try to stay in the share and find another nanny? I'm embarrassed to even write this post as the fact that I'm even questioning it tells me I should probably end this relationship.

    You are getting conflicting information: one set of facts from the nanny, one set of facts from the Snoo.  Yet, you express worry only that the nanny is lying, not that the Snoo is somehow miscalibrated or working differently than expected.  Which it could be!  You may say "no, it's very simple to use, and it always works for me."  But the nanny is less familiar with the Snoo -- she uses it less than you -- and may very well be using it in a way that gives different readings than when you use it.  Is there more information that causes you to dismiss this possibility?  Is your baby sleeping okay at night?  You say you have been clear that you don't want naps to exceed two hours, but maybe you need to be clearer:  you actually want the nanny to go wake up your sleeping baby after two hours?  Are you sure? Really sure? Maybe your baby is a bit under the weather and needed some extra sleep for these few days.  Or do you think the nanny left the baby crying in the crib for several of those hours?  I guess I think that if a baby slept six hours one day, but still slept okay at night, then, well, the baby must have needed the sleep, and I'd be glad the nanny accommodated those needs.  It does mean that there is an issue of getting different data from the nanny, although I'd hesitate to call that lying without more information.  She may have a different sense of how important that kind of detailed accounting is. If baby is happy, healthy, and sleeping okay at night, honestly, I wouldn't care about a detailed accounting.  But, it's important to you, and that's fine.  That's what you should be clear about with the nanny, without accusation.

    We have the Snoo and will often just unzip the swaddle and take the baby out to soothe or if she's woken up and we're ready to get her up for the day and do not turn the rocking function off until later (often we'll snuggle in bed or change her clothes and then remember to turn it off once we physically leave the room). It's fairly easy to put put the baby back in the swaddle while it's moving.  Could that partially explain what's going on?  Our Snoo logs would not accurately capture our babies wake/sleep cycles since we use this approach.  I would also ask how it's going with using the Snoo and probe into how she might use the swaddle function or other reasons it might stay on when baby is not actually in it before jumping to conclusions.  But as always, trust your gut if you don't get a satisfying answer.

    I would start with approaching the other family but if you can’t trust your nanny to be honest than the relationship will not work out anyway. I had a similar experience in that I would get notifications of activity coming from the crib and she would leave him in there for up to an hour two after he woke up from a nap! I reiterated that he should be picked up when he woke up and thought communication was clear. I ended up coming home early one day by find him crying by himself wandering around our house. I picked him up and went to the room she was in, she was watching tv on her laptop. Her reaction was to blame me for being an anxious first time parent. So the crib thing was just the tip of the neglectful iceberg. 

    She was seemingly an amazing nanny and we moved to a daycare situation after that, figuring that there greater accountability with larger numbers of teachers. 

    I think you should probably seek a new nanny situation and be very UP FRONT about your expectations and values. Your posting, including its headline, uses very strong words like "lying" and "neglectful" which demonstrates the differences between your approach and that of your nanny. The nannies I hired and those of my friends with kids that young now, were/are usually focused more on the baby/child and how the baby is doing, feeling, etc. They are not usually tech savvy, but more importantly, may not see the value in using technology in caring for babies when they have been successful without it. It may be the difference in approach that is reflected in the difference of experience between you and the other family in your share.

    You are very focused on the sleep timeline of your baby, and you may have good reasons for it. You need to explain that to prospective nannies. (E.g. "when the baby sleeps for more than x hours during the day, s/he will only sleep x at night.") This is something nannies understand and can work with you on--and may have other ideas and strategies to help with the care of your baby. I think you need to focus on that and less on the use of a particular technology you prefer. Your nanny is an important part of your baby's life right now, so you should find someone who can understand what you need and why. Good luck!

    Your nanny is lying to you, on a pretty large scale, every single time she takes care of your baby.

    I would let her go immediately, and send your Snoo vs. her journal proof to the other family. (Please tell the other family!)

    You have an instinct to talk to her first, and I think you should trust that instinct in the name of fairness. Otherwise you are making a major decision about the nanny based on a device - which may or may not be accurate or telling you the whole story.  Since you seem hesitant, I think it would also help to talk to the other family about your concerns and perhaps they can give you an alternate perspective, since they seem to like and trust the nanny.

    If it turns out that she is being dishonest, I think that most time this will come out in the conversation. But it may turn out that there is more going on, and if you don't talk to her first, you won't know.  And risk letting someone go unfairly. 

    I totally understand what it's like to entrust your little one to the care of someone else and I think your reaction here speaks a lot to that. I bet that when you talk to the nanny and/or the other family, you will most likely feel a sense of relief at clearing the air, and perhaps it will help your sense of trust.  Good luck!

    I would go with your instinct.  Something isn’t right about this. If you ask her, she will likely mislead you.  If it were me, I would install cameras. There is a reason they call them “nanny cams”.  Wireless and viewable live. 

    Ultimately you have to be able to trust the person you are leaving your baby with, if you feel you cannot trust this nanny it won't work out as a longterm arrangement, no matter what. If it were me, I think I would try to get to the bottom of what is happening. If you feel comfortable, consult the other family with your data from the snoo and ask if they feel confident the nanny keeps to their desired nap schedules - what do they observe when they are home with her? Maybe run your own experiment and ensure that the snoo accurately records naps - is there any chance it still thinks there's a baby in there sleeping when he/she has already been taken out? Finally, I'd recommend talking to the nanny. You can try to do it in a non-confrontational way that emphasizes that you really just have your baby's healthy sleeping habits in mind and want to make sure she's getting enough awake time and activity during the day to be able to sleep well at night. If it really is the nightmare scenario that you fear (leaving the baby unattended for hours on end in the snoo) then it's best for your baby if you find a new nanny, even if you have to have a few awkward conversations to determine whether you are at that point! 

    We have a Snoo, and I've never looked at the kind of data you describe. However, I have noticed that my husband often takes our baby out of the Snoo bu then it continues to sway (though I've never stopped to see how long it continues). Is it possible it's just swaying without a baby in it? Do you have a camera that could give you more definitive answers? 

    I had a similar experience with a nanny of a nanny share when my daughter was an infant. We ended up having this nanny for about 8 months even though there were a handful of red flags- eventually we had our doorman track her comings and goings (we lived in NYC at the time) and found out that she was blatantly lying about schedule which ended up being the last straw. I say get out now because deception only leads to more deception and this is a person you really have to trust.  If you like the other nannyshare family bring them along and explain what happened, I’m sure they will be concerned about the lying as well. 

    Hi! This must be very stressful. Its not easy to leave your small baby with a new caretaker and takes a lot of trust. Once that is broken by potentially abusive behavior, I cannot imagine it being reinstalled. I don't know the Snoo and how accurate it is, but sounds like it is almost like having a video from your crib. You could speak to the other family and better understand what they like about the nanny. Is the other baby older? Is she engaging more with the other baby? What made you join the share/trust the nanny? Personally I would confront her. Yes, it is uncomfortable but she works for you and you have given her directions and now there is a discrepancy and that discrepancy, if true, would constitute abusive behavior from her end. So you can absolutely ask her why that discrepancy in data is there. You can also learn more about her from the way she reacts. Ultimately though you have to trust your gut and go with your instinct. That is what every parent will tell you. If your instinct says something is off, then you have to trust that. And if you don't want to talk to her thats ok too. It is your child, you want it to be in the care of someone you trust, you don't have to justify yourself to anyone. You don't have to feel embarrassed about it. So if you just want to end it, that is totally ok. I would however let the other family know why you did it. If it was the other way around you would certainly want them to tell you. You can just say that it made you loose your trust and you are not comfortable continuing the share without a strong base of trust. What they do with that information is their decision. On a more general note, with any nanny, you could also work from home some days, see how their day is going, ask where she takes the baby, ask her to send you pictures, meet her at a park one day for an early pick up, etc. whatever you feel is needed so you get an understanding of how they spend their day, what the rythm is. You describe your current nanny as organized and communicative, but also try to observe a bit how the interactions are between nanny and your child. The relationship takes a bit to develop so you have to give it a bit of time, but you can see if she is warm with your baby, if she is engaging, how she speaks about your baby, etc. You don't need to control every step that your nanny takes with your child, but you do want to make sure that your child is well taken care of and that he or she can develop a positive relationship with another caretaker and have a healthy attachment. And for that you have every right to ask questions, set expectations, etc. - and develop a positive relationship with your nanny yourself as well. Wishing you all the best! You got this, momma!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Sitter's Unauthorized Computer Use

March 2004

We noticed our babysitter had helped herself to my husband's computer in his study to check her email and surf the web a bit. Nothing porno but she was definitely not watching our 5 year old while she was doing this. Even more, I feel like it is a big invasion of privacy. She admitted it when I confronted her and said it was an ''emergency'' that she needed to check something. I told her not to do it and if such an ''emergency'' arises again to call me first. Is this a firing offense? I should add, she is relatively young (early 20s). I think the younger people are less territorial about their stuff - am I wrong to be bugged? Bugged But Wondering

I think that if you haven't made the rules clear, now would be a good time. The second offense might or might not be worth a ''firing'' depending upon how you feel, but why not just include a password upon start-up so that nobody but you and your partner can access the computer, and avoid the issue altogether in the future? big on passwords

I'm an internet addict -- I email all day long, I web surf. I also have a nanny whom I adore who is utterly devoted to my children. It would not bother me at all if my nanny checked her email while she was working. I often check my email when I'm with my kids, and while I know I'm not necessarily providing optimum care when I'm on line, I also know that it's very difficult to provide optimum care all day long. I think you might try to figure out what you both feel comfortable with -- maybe checking email during naptime, or something like that. It's hard to imagine a job where we wouldn't get to do a little bit of this kind of thing every once in a while, and if the nanny is good in other ways you might try to work things out with her. Ayelet

If you had not previously discussed computer use with her, and you are otherwise happy with her, I don't think this was a firing offense.

FWIW, I've never had this issue with our nanny simply because she is a limited English speaker who doesn't USE computers. But with teenage babysitters, I have always specifically invited them to use my home computer at need, and left it set up so that they can easily browse the web without needing access to any of my passwords. (These girls generally do homework and work on college applications after the kids are in bed.) I also know parents whose kids work or play on a home computer *with* their babysitters (much as they would do art projects or anything else). So not everyone considers computer use to be an automatic no-no, and your sitter probably came up with the ''emergency'' thing when it became obvious to her that you were unhappy about it. I would let it go. Unless and until it happens again, of course. Now that there is a rule in place and she is aware of it, you should let her go if she violates it. Holly

Hi - Well, one thing I can tell you is that it is easy to fix this - you can make your computer or any part of it accessible by password only. Then, the sitter may be abe to turn the machine on, but she won't be able to do anything on it. michael

I wouldn't mind my sitter taking a short break to read her email. But I WOULD mind her using my computer without asking. It would be the equivalent of someone going through my desk and papers looking for a notepad to write on. It's ''my'' computer, not the family computer, so it's not like the family stereo or the family refrigerator. I have all sorts of personal stuff on my computer - my calendar and address book, credit card numbers, letters from friends, etc. Other family members have to ask before they use my computer, so I would definitely want a non-family member to do the same.

I have teens, and I have students working for me, so I know that email and IM are a ''necessary'' part of their lives, and they may not get the concept of the computer as personal space. When a teen relative or student visits, I tell them which computer they can use and what I'm OK with (OK to run IM and check email, not OK to download programs). So in your case I would just chalk it up to a learning experience for the babysitter, tell her what your rules are about the computer, and assume the best from here on out. computer mom

As a former babysitter, I guess I think you're ever-so-slightly overreacting to your babysitter's use of your computer, EXCEPT that she wasn't watching your son. I wouldn't say that she should be fired for this first-time incident, but now that you've made your wishes clear, it shouldn't happen again. You could of course set up password protection on the computer, which would ensure that this won't happen again. Christine

so is your issue that she wasn't watching your child (which I assume you were paying her to do), or that she was on your computer? seems like you should be able to block use with a password setup or, if you're technically challenged like me, just hide the power cord or some such essential item.

Maybe you should let it ride to see if its a pattern or if it really was a emergency like she said If it is a pattern, preventing computer use may not motivate her to spend time with your child - she may simply switch to some other activity that is less easy to track and then I would think its time to find another baby sitter. ilona

I suggest you put a password on your computer. I have one on mine. Yes, the on in my own home and it's just my husband, daughter and myself. I think that it's always a good idea to have password protection on your computer even in your own home as you can protect against someone in the house using the computer without permission as well as if it gets stolen, making it harder to break into (though it's not hard to do). just call me paranoid...

Teenage Babysitter may be stealing

August 2004

I'm worried that my next door neighbors teenage daughter is stealing when she comes over. Today I came home from work and found a couple of small ceramic bear figurines missing. The only reason I noticed it was because I had recently re-organized the shelf they were on and had moved them to a higher shelf so my almost 4 yr old couldn't reach them. I had 5 and now there are only 3. Honestly, this isn't about the items itself but more the pricipal of the matter. I'm bothered by the breech of trust and worried about the daughter. I already exhausted all avenues in our home as to where they may be and the only logical explanation seems to point to her (we had give them a spare key to get in while we were at work so they could feed our cats while we were gone). Any advice on how to bring this up as gently as possible would be helpful.

it really depends. how long and how well do you know the family. is this the only incident of stealing you suspect. have there been other times. what hard evidence can you confront them with? if you don't know the family well, and there have been other incidences, then I would get a new baby sitter. You need to have trust in your babysitter for peace of mind. on the other hand, if you know the family well, and feel that your allegations would be handled with respect and understanding, then I would approach the parents. Having said all that, with regards to the safety and care of my children, I might just get another sitter anyway. I need peace of mind as well as a mature individual watching my children. anon

I would be 100 % sure of your accusation before talking with your neighbor. My 1.5 and 3 year old know how to pick up our step stool or scoot chairs over to get what they want. If something is missing, I usually give it a couple weeks and it turns up in the most creative places. You might casually ask your teen neighbor if they remember seeing your child play with the bears because they are missing. If your not comfortable with them having your key then maybe someone else should cat sit and ask for the key back. The biggest issues here are: do you really think your neighbor is stealing? Are you paranoid and over reacting? Do you not feel comfortable with your neighbors having the house keys? Handle with caution especially if you plan on living by them for a while. Decent neighbors are hard to find and are not perfect. If they are wrongly accused of something you may lose a friend/neighbor that is irreplaceable. If you are not sure, there are ways to get your thoughts across without damaging the relationship. If they have taken something, are you willing to forgive them and put boundaries on the relationship or terminate things? Lots to think about. Good luck and I hope you find your bears. Anon