Category Archives: Parenting

Why Doing Away With the Gadgets Is Important for Your Kid

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Steve Jobs did not allow his kids to own and use an iPad at home. He feared that the iPad would turn his kids into addicts of the device. He should know. After all, he was the founder of Apple Inc. and the father of the digital revolution. Most, if not all, Silicon Valley techs and engineers limit and shield their kids from technology and prefer to send their kids to schools where the focus is on hands on learning and computers are not easily accessible.

Why do the people at the pinnacle of digital change shield their kids from this technological marvel? The reasons are too many and varied, but everyone agrees on some common pitfalls of early exposure to technology.

Children learn better from real life experiences rather than screen time. It is more so if activities involve moving and doing. Various surveys and studies show that on an average 12-month-old baby is exposed to up to 2 hours of screen time a day.

Young age (< 2 years) is very critical for learning of new concepts. Most of the learning involve 3 dimensional Sensory- motor experiences which cannot be replicated on a 2 dimensional screen. Active play involves better hand – eye coordination , fine motor skill development.

Example:  Compare a ball in real life and a ball on Screen.

Infants are still developing concept of 3 dimensional vision. For a small baby  watching on screen a BALL is just a flat, shaded circle. In real life if we roll a ball across floor it proceeds in a single motions and gradually slows and stops finally. But on Screen same action cannot be done; it will be broken up. Small babies may stare at bright colors and motions on screen but their brain is not capable of making sense or meaning out of these amazing pictures. By  the age 2 years brain has developed enough and baby can understand things better. Due to all this confusion it is better to avoid screen time in small babies.

Distorted sense of reality:

Early exposure to technological marvels such as tablets, smart phones and computers are detrimental to the physical and mental growth of children. They give children a distorted view of reality and interfere with the natural development of the child’s brain

Co-ordination and dexterity:

Children as young as 3 and 4 when exposed to the iPad may become experts at swiping the screen, but lag behind in developing dexterity in their fingers that comes by playing sports or musical instruments.

Concept of space:

Young children have still not developed a sense of space and each new walking, bending and climbing experience helps to develop a sense of space. Early exposure to the iPad interferes with this development and gives children a distorted sense of depth and space.

Social Skills:

Various studies have shown that children growing on iPads or other similar screen devices tend to lag behind in development of real time social skills. Regular activities such as developing social skills and making friends become a task for such children. Such children do not spend time with their own thoughts and imagination and require constant stimulation.

Emotional skills:

Development of internal mechanism of self-regulation is an important milestone in a child’s emotional development. Constant and continuous use of such devices to distract and control the behavior of children impedes their ability of self-regulation.

Maths and Science:

Playing with blocks in real time develops visual-motor skills and sensorimotor skills in children that are the base of all learning. Application of maths, science and logic in the classroom and outside comes naturally for kids whose basic skills are well – development. Playing with real blocks and puzzles is frustrating for young minds who are used to manipulating objects by swiping the screen.

The list of the evils of early exposure to screen only gets longer with time. There has been very little systematic research and the technology is still quite new to fully understand its complete effects. For now, the safest thing to do is keep that tablet away from your kids or at least stop using it as a baby sitter.

Ways to Get Your Toddler’s Attention and Keep It

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You might have experienced this- you are reading aloud a book to your 15-month- old kid and halfway through she wanders away across the room towards the bookshelf. Well! This is a perfectly normal behaviour for her. Psychologists explain that toddlers are innately distractible. They cannot stick on with one thing as long as an older child or adults can. After a couple of minutes, they venture in search of other things. Besides, another reason for your toddler to not comply with your instructions is that she is taking the first step towards becoming her own person. She is walking her way to independence and may tend to do exactly the opposite of what you might have suggested to her.

Read on to find simple ways to get attention of your toddler and have them be seated for a couple minutes to play with a toy or draw etc.

  • First and foremost, is your time. If you want results, it require good quality time. Take time out from your social networking and other stuff and focus on your child’s future. Father’s too have equal responsibility to take out time.
  • Get down to their level to talk to them. Squat down or pick them up, make an eye contact to get their attention to what you have to say.
  • Put in confident good humor in your language. Use silly voices, make up tunes to sentences or sing your instructions to them. For example, if you want to tell them, ‘It’s time to take a bath’, just sing it to them. This will intrigue them to listen to you. Always remember, yelling instructions may get the work done, but no one enjoys the process of doing it.
  • Never impose your choice of play or activity on them. Let them choose what they want for themselves. This makes them pay more attention to things they do while enjoying the task.
  • Television or videos are a complete ‘No No’ in the first two years of a child’s life. In fact, TV, rattles and other noise-making toys overwhelm a child’s attention rather than encouraging the child to actively flex his/her muscles to focus. On the contrary, give them toys that are more open-ended so that they can curiously engage in them with more than one special sense.

Children enjoy games. Engage with them in fun-filled games so that they learn to pay attention. Here are few games you can play with your children:

  • Make hand puppets or finger puppets and use them to give simple instructions (like clap your hands, spin around, etc) to your child. It paves the path for the budding independence of the child as it is a friendly puppet that is instructing them.
  • Go on a treasure hunt with them. This way they learn to follow two- to three-step instructions as well.
  • Mimic voices. Draw the child’s attention to the distantly heard voices and then both of you can mimic it one by one.
  • Use flashlight to focus on different objects in a dark room and let them name them.
  • Last but not the least, model good behavior. Listen to them respectfully and they will learn to be good listeners.

A long attention span is vital for creative, athletic and academic achievement. Attentive listeners make the best friends, spouses and parents. The basic skills of focusing and concentrating learnt in the first few years of life go a long way to help them deal with difficult problems of life and pursue their dreams.

Avoid use of video games: Buy a Bicycle instead

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Although the makers of the video game industry claim that video games are nothing but fun and entertainment, most pediatrician and health researchers attribute increased incidences of violence as well as childhood obesity to the rising exposure to video games.

Most video games contain graphic imagery and direct or indirect violence. In fact, the top preferred games are loaded with violence and objectionable content like shooting people, stealing stuff, running over objects, destroying objects, etc. What should you do as a parent if the only thing your child want to do all vacation is shoot down people in Counter Strike?

When young and impressionable minds of children are subjected to such content, they are invariably influenced and conditioned. The soaring numbers of violent incidents, such as gun violence, bullying and other forms of violence prevalent in schools, are believed to have been inspired from mind-numbing hours of video game playing. Child psychologists believe that prolonged exposure to such games leads to the child developing an indifference to violence.

Several studies conducted indicate that children who spent hours on video games in their childhood grew up to indulge in various forms of violence or had some criminal charges against them. Parents give in to their child’s demands and pamper them with the state-of- the-art gaming devices such as Play stations, X Box, etc. Evidently, such games hamper real life activities, like studying, playing outdoors, making new friends that seem dull in comparison to the colorful gaming world. Children develop a need for immediate gratification and become restless and cranky if things do not turn out the way they planned.

Other physical effects include poor eyesight from staring at screens for so long, laziness, obesity and many more. Bring a radical change to the video game trend and invest in a bicycle for your child instead.

Children are living a couch potato lifestyle and are rarely stepping out to play and they do not get enough physical exercise. A bicycle will ensure that your child gets plenty of fresh air and exercise. Indeed, parents should encourage their children to play outside daily for a fixed amount of time. This is vital for a child’s complete growth and development, as regular cycling is proven to activate muscle growth and increase stamina.

Some studies also indicate that cycling works positively to boost mental health by reducing stress and anxiety. Cycling for as little as half an hour improves blood circulation, aids in weight loss and leaves you feeling happier and less tensed. Incorporate cycling breaks, even during exam time, to help your child relax and grasp better. It helps improve muscle strength, stamina and bone strength. It also helps them grow taller!

Physical activities done outside of home are going to do wonders in over all growth of your child.

Additionally, several research studies conclude that riding a bike can protect one from serious conditions like cardiovascular diseases, stroke, some cancers, depression, diabetes and so on.

So, gift your child a bicycle and help him create real-life memories with a real social network!

 

Why Pocket Money for Your Teen Makes Sense Even Today

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The idea of offering pocket money to children, especially teenagers, has been going on since ages. Many parents wonder whether or not it will be beneficial to provide pocket money to their kids and how much is the right amount. Are you also puzzled whether you should give your child pocket money? If your answer is yes, then we have some reasons as to why it makes sense to give your teen pocket money even today!

Different parents have different opinions regarding pocket money. But if done correctly, pocket money can prove to be a good thing for your teen.

Here are some advantages of giving pocket money:

1. Independent feeling

Teenagers are ‘mini adults’, so considering them grown up, in this case, will make them feel independent. In addition, this will teach them to manage their own money. Generally, most teenagers love the opportunity of managing their finances independently and do learn to handle their money wisely.

2. Value for money

A lot of teenagers these days do not realize the value of money, as their parents buy almost everything for them. By offering monthly pocket money, they would have to purchase items on their own. This will encourage them to buy their desired items by themselves, the preparation of which will give them a real-life experience, thereby making them aware that things do not come for free. Hence, they will value money.

3. Learn from mistakes

In the beginning, your teen might get overwhelmed by the money and spend it all right away. If the money is over in a week, then he/she will have to stay broke until it is time for the next payment.

4. Saving skills

Educate your teenagers to save a fraction of their pocket money each time and put it away for future or emergency use. If this is done each month, then by the end of the year, they will have a lump sum of money on hand, which they can use to treat themselves.

It is vital for you to understand the consequences of giving pocket money to your teenagers. No matter how well your teen manages the money, it is crucial for you to track and intervene when needed. How much to give??? and from when to start?? Only you as a parent know the answer. Finally, it is important that the money is not just given away but is earned. Ask other parents their opinion and how much they offer and lastly be consistent as you are the one they learn from.

5 Skills Your Child Must Know at 5

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Today, the world has become very competitive and everyone wants their kids to excel in just about all competitions. However, in this race many a times as a parent we forget to keep a tab on the developmental milestones of our child.

There are yearly milestones that a child attains as it grows and these milestones are very important to ensure the growth of your child. As many psychosomatic disorders are seen in children too, these milestones help in spotting them early on and taking steps to preventing worsening. Here we are going to talk about few skills that a child should know by the time he/she turns 5.

Communication skills:

By the age of 5, children should have good command on their language. They should be able to speak clearly and their pronunciation should be perfect. They should be able to speak complex and compound sentences and tell a simple story using full sentences. They should be able to strike a conversation and learn to wait for their turn to speak in group talks.

Social and emotional skills

By the time a child turns 5, they learn to make friends and make efforts to please them. They can tell difference between real and make-believe things. They start showing concern and sympathy for others. They like participating in activities like singing, dancing or acting. They start becoming independent for e.g. they can go alone to your next door neighbour’s place, won’t need you to come along anymore. As they become more social, they like to participate in activities that involve other kids.

Cognitive skills

At 5, kids are creative and enthusiastic problem solvers. They start asking analytical questions and also give imaginative ideas for how to do a task, or make something. They become aware of things being used daily like food, money etc. They can easily count 10 or more things and can even do simple addition and subtraction. They have understanding of shapes and can even copy them. Five-year-olds understand and use words related to position, such as “under” or “behind.” They can even use instruments like thermometers, weighing scale etc.

Physical skills

Physically, five-year-olds are full of energy and look out for active games and environments. They are able to balance and coordinate movements, therefore can ride a bike with training wheels, swim, jump rope etc. They have better control and are able to change the direction, speed and quality of their movements. The flexibility of their fingers is also, improved to great extend and hence they have improved control over writing and painting tools and even manage zippers and buttons.

Creative skills

Five-year-olds are able to compose and arrange music within specified guidelines. They can enact simple plays and perform puppet shows. They can create realistic art with recognizable subjects and more detailed settings.

If your child is completely lacking one or more of these skills, then it might be a good idea to visit a child developmental specialist or pediatrician to rule out developmental disorders or focus on training in a special way to develop certain basic survival skill sets.

Few Home Hacks That Can Help You Monitor Your Child’s Health Like a Hawk

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As a parent, one of your topmost concerns is that your child’s physical as well as mental health is in the right direction. Your child’s health and development needs to be monitored and reassessed regularly. Development is a continuous process, but changes from time to time depending on new demands.

Learning skills in a child need to be evaluated periodically especially because they are seen only when the child is asked to perform a certain function. Generally, health clinics and schools keep a check on children’s growth, but it is crucial that you too monitor your child’s health regularly.

1. Physical health

  • Height and weight – Measure your child’s height and weight at home each month and note it in a logbook. Take this logbook along with you during your child’s health visit at the doctor’s office. Each child is different in a way that while some kids grow fast, others do not grow tall or gain weight as they should. If your child is not growing as fast as his/her peers, do not panic. Some children have a late growth spurt, but make sure that your pediatrician is aware of it during the health visits. If it’s a drastically off the normal limits, early interventions could be put in place.
  • Skin changes – Look for any changes in your child’s skin from time to time including changes in the thickness, acne or rashes, pigmentation. Medical conditions are often presented as changes in the skin to begin with.
  • Sleep cycle – Children generally need approximately 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night. Any changes in sleep patterns, such as too much or too little sleep, should be noted and reported to the pediatrician. In addition, a lack of sleep will make it difficult for your child to function well throughout the day, especially in school. Try to set a bedtime for your child to ensure adequate amount of sleep.

2. Mental health

Parents are recommended to get their child evaluated at 9 months, 18 months and then every 24 months thereafter. Evaluate for any learning or memory disabilities. Pediatricians may also examine them at health visits by asking them a series of questions and seeing how they respond to them.

  • Diet: Fresh fruit and vegetables contain essential vitamins and nutrients for growth that our body cannot produce. Although, many kids are picky eaters, keep a track of any major changes in their eating pattern. Too much or too less food, both, can be unsafe and must be corrected. Importantly, iron, calcium and vitamins A, B, C, D and E are essential for your child’s optimal growth. Offer your child at least three cups of milk and four to five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. On precautionary side, limit food that is high in added sugar.
  • Exercise: Physical activity is extremely important for your child’s growth. Usually, a child requires at least an hour of exercise or any physical activity daily. However, keep your child away from too much sun. Furthermore, limit television, video games, smartphones, tablets or computers to no more than 2 hours a day. Make a note, if your child wants to be sedentary all day, this could be a sign of a problem or lead to obesity in the long run.

In conclusion, your participation in your child’s development and growth plays a crucial role and sends a strong message that you will stand next to them for support. Taking your child to a pediatrician for routine health check-ups, getting them immunized and looking out for any changes in habits, such as delayed speech, throwing tantrums at bedtime, crippling shyness with friends and family, difficulty in toilet training and finicky eating habits, will help you recognize and seek early inventions to keep their development in check.

Teen Talk: Do ‘The Talk’ Without Being Embarrassed

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In this age of the Internet and information at our fingertips, most parents find it easy to shrug off or completely avoid responsibility of talking about physical intimacy (read: sex) with their children, thinking that the teenager probably knows more about it than they do.

This train of thought is completely incorrect. It is your responsibility as a parent to talk to your kid and make them understand that any visually graphic content that they may or may not be exposed to is not the complete truth.

Talk about the monthly cycle

The first and foremost rule is to have ‘the talk’ early. There is nothing wrong in letting your child know the reason why you do not enter a temple on certain days etc. You may explain that a mother’s body prepares itself to have a baby every month by producing an egg. When mother does not have a baby, the egg falls off from the area where we pass urine. This process takes a couple of days and we do not enter holy places during those days.

Always be open to questions and truthful. This will ensure that your children will trust you and listen to you when they are older.

Skip the sermon

Never give a sermon or lecture to your children or they will tune out before you blink. Try to start a conversation by asking neutral open-ended questions such as whether they discuss about sex with their friends or they have friends who talk about sex. Understand that their curiosity is natural and do not make them feel embarrassed about it. Most importantly, listen to them and let them know that you are always available for them. A conversation is a two-way process.

Prepare in advance

The worst thing that can hamper an open and friendly dialogue about sex is not being prepared when, and if, your teen approaches you about it. Prepare yourself in advance about how to approach the conversation and answer possible upcoming questions. Do not show embarrassment even if you feel embarrassed. Be composed and calm at all times.

Do not judge

While having a conversation, simply keep in mind that your teen is much more exposed and aware and has more knowledge about sex than you had at their age. Therefore, arm them with adequate information about the pitfalls of pre-marital sex, and the dangers of an unexpected or early pregnancy. If you are the parent of a boy, your responsibility doubles itself. The last thing you would want for your young ‘innocent’ boy is to be responsible for emotional trauma and pain for someone he might care a lot about.

Tell them that sex is a natural act of expression of love and respect and not a tool for displaying ‘cool attitude’.

Tips to Win the Bedtime Battle With Your Kids

Welcome to the world of parenthood where bedtime becomes a power struggle between the child and the parent. What’s a sleep-deprived parent to do? Fret not. We’ve got some really simple and effective tips for getting your kid into bed on time, every time.

(For issues related to bed-wetting click here)

Bed is only for sleeping

Do not use bed for all the activities like playing, eating etc. It should be strictly used for sleeping

Avoid products with caffeine before sleep

Do not put hungry child to bed

No TV/Laptop/I pad in bedroom

These electronic gadgets distracts children a lot. It makes sleeping more difficult

Casting the monsters away

Switch on a dim night light to ward off those lurking shadows that fuel scary dreams. A stuffed toy will give a sense of security and a goodnight cuddle just might do the trick. It works all the time.

Ambient temperature

Wrestling with the blanket can make even that thin trace of sleep, vanish. Make sure you have the AC or the fan on at just the right temperature – not too cold nor too hot.

Make up a story

Give your children the solace they need by singing a lullaby or reading out a favorite story. Add a fun twist with a made-up fairy tale where your child is the prince/princess. Stories are a super way to doze into dreams high on imagination.

Exhaust the energy

Keep your kids on their toes by letting them dance to some fun music during the day. Playing a vigorous game or learning karate will tire them out and get them to sleep as soon as their head touches the pillow.

Ditch the sugar

Sugary treats too close to bedtime are a strict no-no. A sugar high will put your child into hyperactive mode. Curb those cravings by allowing them to munch on candy only during the day.

Seal the deal

Some smart kids need a deal to be struck before you can get them into their beds. Offer to buy something off their wishlist, or make a promise to take them out the very next day. Looking forward to something puts their mind at ease and seals the deal.

Always stay one step ahead with these tips to get them into bed. Remember to establish firm boundaries to discipline them into their own bedtime routine. So what are you waiting for? Set the ball rolling and be on the winning side of the bedtime battle!

15 Things which you should not say to “Stay at HOME MOMS”

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Moms who decide to stay at home are in no way inferior to moms who work. If they are staying at home, it does not mean that they are not smart enough to work outside. It’s a Choice which they have made voluntarily, so that they can spend quality time with their kids and family. (15 things you should never say to “working moms”) 

Parenting is a full time job. And many mothers opt to stay at home to take good care of their baby. Many a times thoughtless words from observers can hurt feelings of “stay at home moms”. Honestly speaking both set of moms face challenges and no one has an easy life. In this blog will focus on Home moms and next blog will focus on challenges faced by working mothers.

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Here I am listing few statements which are commonly made by friends and relative which should best be avoided when talking to Home moms.

  1. So you are just a MOM: Any person making such foolish statement must never have raised a baby. We all know it is a full time job (24X7X365 days).

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  1. Why did you wasted money on studies and got a degree if you were planning to sit at home: Purpose of getting a degree is not only to earn good money rather it is to become a good human being who can inculcate good habits in next generation. And any day if need arise, they can get back to work.
  2. You husband must be earning a lot, so that you can relax at home: Any family where mom decides to stay at home make a lot of sacrifices in order to spend quality time with kids. It does not mean they earn a lot, it means they spend wisely. And besides mom is working full time at home, not relaxing.

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  1. You are lucky you do not have to work: No mom who decides to stay at home is sitting idle. They are on their toes all the time. They are working constantly. They have to look after meals for baby, do laundry, arrange stuff, do grocery, fix appointment with doctor and the list is endless.
  1. I can never stay at home, I need a life: All the ladies need life. Everyone loves to spend time with people, look for intellectual discussion, adult talk. That is why their sacrifice is more evident; isn’t it.

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  1. Your home should be spotless if spend whole day at home. Home mothers have whole lot of things to do. Priority is always kids, their health and their intellectual development, sensory as well as motor development. Kids will always be making a mess of home. Drawing on wall, cloths here and there, sussu & potty, spitting out meals, laundry etc.
  1. As you are home mom and you have lot of time, could you help me with…..? Friendly neighbors might always be looking to take advantage of you in order to get their stuff done.
  1. You must be enjoying and spending lot of time with friends and on social networking. Those who think, staying at home means plenty of time for themselves are mistaken big time. Reality is that many a time it gets worse, as moms too need a break.

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  1. If you are tired, why do you not sleep when your baby takes a nap. When baby sleep, moms usually have a long list of “to do things”. Prepare a meal, do the laundry, fold the cloth, look after mother in law and other elders at home and the list is endless.
  1. What do you do with all the free time you have; I will get bored staying at home. Believe me, you won’t know where time flies. If you are really looking after your babies 24 hours a day will be less.
  1. My husband is not that rich, I cannot afford to stay at home. Nobody minds extra money to spend and it’s never enough. Moms who decide to stay at home plans to spend wisely and are willing to make sacrifices in life.
  1. So this is the reason your baby is so clingy and cannot live without you. Babies always like to stay with person whom so ever spends the most quality time with them. It could be caregiver in case of working moms (eg grandmother, or even maid).

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  1. When are planning to get real job in life. Home moms will always tell you that “This is the real life”. Turning a little kid into a grown up responsible and sensible adult is the real job (or toughest job). Inculcating good habits in kids, encouraging your child to do good for humanity and good for society is tough in present circumstances.
  1. Had I been home, my house would be neat and clean. Then why do you try it. It’s all about priority. Babies will write all over the wall, spill milk, do hell lot of stuff to turn house upside down.
  1. That explains why you look so mumsy? Home moms never groom up properly. It does not mean they cannot or they do not want to. It’s just they want to dress the way it is most comfortable for them and their babies. So that they can feed them properly, do household stuff.

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It’s a big sacrifice a mother is making for her kids and family. We should always RESPECT “Home moms” and appreciate them rather than criticizing or making sarcastic remarks.

Working 24X 7 X 365 days a year without any financial gain is a big task; not many have the capability or patience to do that.

I ask many moms than what is the reward for which you work? What is the driving force which keeps you going?

Answer is simple, loud and clear. “Smile of my little angels face” which makes them forgets everything and wipes away all the tears and gives them energy to go on and on”

 

 

Regards

Dr Rahul Varma

“Healthy moms, Healthy Kids”

 

 

Picking the Perfect Nanny for Your Child

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Finding a good nanny is very hard in real life, here are some key points that you should keep in mind when getting started with your nanny search.

Make a list

Start off by putting together a list of the qualities that are important to you. For example, do you want your nanny to be well versed in your mother tongue, full time/part time or a good cook? This will help you weed out the not-so-suitable from the suitable candidates.

Do your research

Spread the word among your friends and family that you are looking for a nanny. Hiring a candidate who is referred through a known source is always better. Contact nanny agencies only after thoroughly checking up on them and asking for references on social media sites.

Interview

Make a list of all the questions you want to ask your nanny. For instance, what would you do if my child is unable to sleep? or what would you do if my child refuses to eat his lunch? This person is going to be spending a lot of time with your child, so if you’re unhappy with their appearance, mannerisms or anything else, move on.

Observe

Allow the nanny to interact with your child. Observe without interfering, so that you can assess whether the nanny and the child are able to bond and whether the nanny’s skills are up to the mark. Remember, your nanny will be responsible for playing a big role in shaping your child’s behavior, education, and cultural development.

Do not compromise, but rather, take your time looking for the right person. Be patient, that one perfect nanny is definitely out there!