Making sure your child is reaching his or her milestones is a cornerstone of parenting. And if you’re returning to work full-time, a nanny will be sharing that duty with you. Here are some major milestones to chat about with your nanny as your child grows.
Babies (1-3 Months)
You probably haven’t introduced a caregiver to your baby yet during these early months, since most American companies offer up to 12 weeks of maternity leave. But hiring your nanny a few weeks before you go back to work is a good idea, since the two of you can co-parent for a little while and she can get to know your little one and ask questions while you’re around. Some baby milestones to consider:
- Tummy time to strengthen baby’s head and neck muscles. Create a “tummy time” area with a mat and toys for baby to reach for. Work with your nanny to create a tummy time schedule that increases as baby gets bigger and stronger.
- By two months your baby should be smiling — how fun! Just like you, the right nanny will be smiling right back. Chatting, cuddling and building trust are key to get baby ready for you to go back to work.
Babies (4-6 Months)
Your baby is now in your nanny’s weekday care, and hopefully a bond has formed between her and your little one. Some milestones to consider:
- By 4 months your baby will not only be smiling, but laughing! Talk to your nanny about simple ways to encourage this, such as peek-a-boo and playing with puppets.
- Sleep training. As all parents know, this is a big one. By 4-6 months babies should be on their way to sleeping through the night, and a key player in this is a good nap schedule. Ask your nanny to journal when your baby naturally wants to rest and for how long so you can see how this affects his or her sleep during the night. Most babies fall into a standard morning and afternoon nap schedule before their first birthday, but all children are different, and it’s good to have a nap journal on hand in case problems arise.
- By 6 months, baby can sit up with support. Have your nanny encourage this by scheduling time for it, just like she did for tummy time. By 9 months baby should be sitting up on his or her own.
- Solid food can be introduced to your baby around 6 months. Go over a meal plan with your nanny and have her journal what baby did and didn’t eat during the day.
Babies (7-12 Months)
As baby gets older, he or she may start to experience some separation anxiety. Both you and your nanny should keep in mind that this is normal and come up with a routine that eases the transition when you have to leave. Some other things to consider:
- Around 7 months your baby will probably start babbling. Have your nanny encourage language by providing her with a library of books and asking her to read a few of them to your child every day. By 12 months you and your nanny may even hear baby’s first words!
- Many babies are crawling by 9 months, although some children skip this milestone. Make sure your home has babyproofed places where baby can safely explore and your nanny can monitor him or her.
- As baby’s first birthday approaches he or she may start walking. (If this hasn’t happened yet, though, don’t worry — walking can happen as late as 17 months, and each child is different.) Make sure the babyproofed spaces in your house have items where baby can pull up and “cruise” as he or she gets ready for those first steps. Again, have your nanny journal this and note any achievements.
Toddlers (13-24 Months)
After your baby blows those first candles out (or, let’s be honest, just smashes the cake) he or she is now officially a toddler! A few milestones to consider:
- Your toddler will start walking with confidence, as well as climbing stairs and eventually learning to kick a ball. Have your nanny encourage this by spending plenty of time outside (or kid-friendly inside spaces) so your toddler can explore.
- Language starts in earnest now. Make sure your nanny knows not to scold your toddler for using words incorrectly, and to rephrase it in the correct way instead.
- This age is a time to start developing your child’s imagination. Encourage your nanny to play imaginary games with your child, such as a pretend tea party and playing with dolls.
- The “terrible twos” may begin even before your child has his or her second birthday, so be sure to outline proper discipline methods with your nanny. For example, designate a “time out” corner of the house that both you and she use for consistency. Make sure she’s praising your child for good behavior to encourage it as well.
Twos (25-36 Months)
If your nanny has been with your family since your child’s infancy, they should hopefully have a strong bond. But even if you’re introducing a new caregiver she can still encourage milestones while building a trusting relationship with your little one. Some to consider:
- It’s important for children this age to begin socializing, so make sure your nanny has a playdate schedule for your child. Many nannies schedule times with their fellow caregivers to let their charges play together — ask your nanny if she has a “nanny network” like this.
- Your child should have a larger vocabulary at this point. Have your nanny encourage conversations and keep reading to him or her.
- At this age your child is ready to put together mental puzzles. Make sure you supply your nanny with arts and crafts projects, blocks, coloring books and other teaching tools to start expanding your child’s mind.
- As your child approaches his or her third birthday potty training will begin. Discuss how you’d like to handle this with your caregiver so she can keep your preschooler on track, and ask her about any potty successes and challenges at the end of each day.