Nanny behaviour
September 25, 2013 12:16 AM   Subscribe

Our 20 week old daughter (who was 7 weeks premature) was screaming as loud as she can, I had never heard her scream as loud.I found our nanny pouring water over her in the baby bath, she was shivering uncontrollably and her teeth were chattering. I insisted the nanny take her out and warm her up immediately. The nanny insisted that it was a 'normal' bath. I checked the water and it was barely warm. The nanny insists that she knows best and that I shouldn't interfere. I don't think it is acceptable for a small baby to take 15-20 minutes to stop shivering after a bath. What should we do about this?
posted by daveg to Health & Fitness (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Thank you for your services.. Good-bye?

I'm not sure what the question is.

Is it about severance? A script for letting go this person? If they have keys, advice to change the locks??

If you are uncomfortable with this person's judgement with your newborn, there's not much else to consider other than how to safely and legally terminate the relationship.

You seem more than done with this person. Move on.
posted by jbenben at 12:25 AM on September 25, 2013 [20 favorites]

Fire your nanny! What the hell? She can't insist you not interfere with your child's care!
posted by JenMarie at 12:26 AM on September 25, 2013 [45 favorites]

What sort of nanny asks the parent not to interfere?!? This person is bad news.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 12:38 AM on September 25, 2013 [11 favorites]

I know nothing about childcare so I can't comment on whether or what she was doing was inappropriate/harmful to the baby but this The nanny insists that she knows best and that I shouldn't interfere. is completely unacceptable. Your child, your rules. Fire her.
posted by missmagenta at 12:42 AM on September 25, 2013 [8 favorites]

I'll be shocked if you get any responses different to what's already been said, this one's a no brainer. I'll add one other thing; when you fire her, complain to the agency and let them know that the nanny told the parent not to interfere! Unfuckingbelievable.
posted by Jubey at 12:44 AM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: A 5-month old child is almost certainly being done no harm, just caused some discomfort, by a tepid bath.

That said, the interaction describe with your nanny is not at all reasonable for an employee who is helping to raise your child. Fire her tomorrow and take time off work until you can find someone better.
posted by 256 at 12:46 AM on September 25, 2013 [40 favorites]

One note about babies and temperature: babies are much more sensitive to temperature, so "barely warm" to you might well be plain "warm" to a baby (I am making no call on the bath your baby experienced, it certainly sounds like she was cold).
That said, I agree with everyone else, that the interaction with the nanny was not at all indicative of a good working relationship nor a healthy mental environment for your baby.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 12:58 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Everyone has covered the nanny thing, but the next thing to do is get a cheap bath thermometer card thing which will forever settle disputes or worries about the appropriate temperature for a baby's bath.
posted by emilyw at 1:08 AM on September 25, 2013 [7 favorites]

You can't expect any useful discussion with the nanny or with us until you know the water temperature. If you don't know it, buy a baby bath thermometer.

If the child is shivering it doesn't necessarily mean the water is too cold, but it does mean the baby has had enough.
posted by devnull at 1:08 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Our preemie baby never cried during showers and baths, except when she had her head directly under the shower. They were lukewarm baths because we didn't want to risk too hot or cold, but immediately followed by towels and dried off so she wouldn't shiver at all. Preemie babies often are a little underweight in the early months and feel the cold more intensely.

Your baby was in distress, the nanny caused it and either blustered to cover or sincerely believes cold baths are good for tiny babies - she's a terrible nanny either way and you will have no peace of mind leaving your baby in her care, so fire her immediately. Even if you can't get a replacement, fire her.
posted by viggorlijah at 1:18 AM on September 25, 2013

Your daughter was screaming more loudly than you have ever heard her scream? And Miss Trunchbull didn't think the appropriate action was to take her out of the bath, wrap her up warmly, and comfort her until she calmed down?

No child deserves a nanny who behaves like that. I'd be firing Miss Trunchbull so quickly, she'd be outside the front door before she even knew what hit her.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 1:31 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

W. T. F.

Get her gone.
posted by prototype_octavius at 1:49 AM on September 25, 2013

She needs to go. Now. She argues with you about your child's care. She gets the rest of her pay for the contracted pay period, and she never sets foot in your house again. If she has keys, change the locks. So sorry you're having to deal with this.
posted by Occam's Aftershave at 2:21 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Babies don't generally shiver in response to cold at your daughter's age. While your nanny totally shouldn't respond to you the way she did, you should try to figure out what else may have been going on.
posted by mercredi at 2:25 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

She's gone, NOW. As Occam's Aftershave says, pay her for the rest of the contracted pay period, but do NOT let her work one more day with your child.

Sure, she's a nanny (and supposedly a childcare professional) but you are the child's parent, and it's your job to protect your child --- and shivering that long and that much was definately not right. After firing this person, make sure to also let the nanny agency know *why*.
posted by easily confused at 2:38 AM on September 25, 2013

I disagree with all of the people who tell you to "just fire the nanny". The reason your nanny asked you not to interfere is that it is very difficult to do a job with a client micromanaging you. You hired someone to take care of your child; please give her the courtesy of respecting her decisions. If you want to question them, you should do so at a moment of calm and with good reason. If you have good reason to believe she is incompetent, then consider firing her. But not just for disagreeing with you - that's a terrible employer-employee relationship to establish and better nannies probably won't stand for it. You will only keep nannies who have fewer options.

It may not seem like a big deal now, but if you don't respect your nanny/childcare providers and allow them to have some authority, your kids will quickly pick up on it in a few years. They will ignore what the nanny tells them to do, and be constantly running to you to undermine her. My mother spent about 15 years doing childcare - and when she was looking after the children, her word was the final authority. The parents she worked for supported her in this. Their kid might, for example, not take naps at home, but at her house they did (because all kids had a nap/quiet time). Kids can handle different rules easily and it's really good training for them. Kids who have never had to learn someone else's rules can be insufferable (especially in college or grad school).
posted by jb at 5:09 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Just fire the nanny. Not for the bath, but for telling you not to interfere. It may not seem like a big deal now, but if your nanny doesn't respect the fact that you are a the parent, you are never going to feel comfortable and safe with her as a child. Where does her belief that she "knows best" end?
posted by spaltavian at 5:37 AM on September 25, 2013

In my opinion, the crux of the issue is not the bathwater, or even that the nanny told you not to interfere. It's that this nanny apparently makes it a practice to ignore an infant's cries of distress. There are some people who actually believe that 4-month-old infants are "manipulative" and that their cries are only "trying to get attention" and ought to be ignored. If you are committed to attachment parenting and/or being sensitive to your infant's needs, then in interviews with future prospective nannies (and you should certainly let this one go and look for a new one), you should be asking what their response generally is to distress cries. Hire only individuals who instinctively comfort human beings in distress.
posted by RRgal at 6:04 AM on September 25, 2013 [7 favorites]

Is your nanny by any chance South American? All the SA moms I know (3, small sample size I know) told me to bathe my baby in cool water because its better for her and no one in their home country uses warm water on a baby. They also told me crying in the bath is good for their lungs. While I don't prescribe to this philosophy a quick googling tells me it's totally a thing so maybe before you fire your nanny you could just talk to her about her child rearing beliefs and see what's up.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 7:44 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Do not interfere? Fire her immediately.
posted by Dansaman at 8:13 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

While I understand jb's concern about future respect (despite disagreeing that it's even remotely valid at 5 months old), if my boss questioned me about a story I was writing and I told him that I knew best and he shouldn't interfere? You can bet my ass would be in his office for a serious discussion if not a dismissal. And that's over a newspaper story, not an infant's well-being.
posted by kattyann at 9:26 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I read your post and at the moment I got to "The nanny insists that she knows best and that I shouldn't interfere" then I knew my answer would be that you should fire her. That is utterly unacceptable. She doesn't sound like a good match for your parenting style, and so you need someone different. Fire her, tell her why, and find someone new. From my friends and co-workers experience its unusual to find the right nanny first time around, so don't beat yourself up. This was a learning experience, that helps you clarify what kind of person you are looking for. Good luck!
posted by Joh at 9:40 AM on September 25, 2013

Totally unacceptable. Her lack of empathy towards the shivering baby is a giant red flag with lasers coming out of it. Fire her.
posted by w0mbat at 10:07 AM on September 25, 2013

I will agree that it's important to respect the nanny/caregiver--but only as much as she respects that you are her employer, and newbie (or more experienced) parents need a response more professional than being bossed around and told to stop worrying about their screaming child. I'd fire her, explain to the agency, and find a better fit.
posted by Anwan at 10:48 AM on September 25, 2013

The nanny insists that she knows best and that I shouldn't interfere.
Well, micromanaging staff is not so great, but you absolutely should make it clear that your child will be raised according to your choices. Cold enough to make the 20 week old baby scream - not okay with you. How long did it take to find the nanny? How much notice will you have to give. I might not fire Nanny immediately, but I sure would start trying to replace her asap.
posted by theora55 at 12:26 PM on September 25, 2013

>>>the crux of the issue is not the bathwater, or even that the nanny told you not to interfere. It's that this nanny apparently makes it a practice to ignore an infant's cries of distress.<>
THIS. It's bad enough to say, "Don't question my judgment, even when it's your kid," but even worse is that she has objective evidence that she might be doing something wrong (the shivering, especially), and doesn't want to change course because that would mean admitting she's wrong!

She sounds a bit cold and cruel as well, given how you've described her. You wouldn't feel safe leaving your infant with her again, I'm guessing.
posted by ravioli at 5:35 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Final update from the OP:
A rather late wrap up, but thank you everyone. I asked the question because I was worried that I was too wrapped up in things and didn't have the right perspective - you all confirmed that I was thinking straight.
The nanny went and we re-arranged things to make sure that the kids were OK.
Subsequently, we realised that the nanny's behaviour with our older daughter had hampered her social development in a way that we hadn't picked up on (her shyness was not being addressed, but rather reinforced by the nanny's behaviour). With lots of encouragement, she is now one of the more confident children in her reception class.
Our little girl suffered no lasting damage from the incident, but it did take us nearly 6 months to get her enjoying bath time again.
Again, thanks to all who contributed.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:07 AM on April 26, 2016

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