Q: I’m worried that my mother-in-law won’t follow my rules when taking care of my baby while I’m at work. Can I spy on her with a nanny cam?
A: It’s a tempting idea, but what would the outcome be, realistically? Would you march into the nursery and say, "Alright, Nana, hand over the french fries!” as you dramatically open the teddy bear’s belly to reveal a hidden camera?
A nanny cam won’t be regarded as the best way to thank your mother-in-law for helping out. Instead, keep on top of things with trust, communication and a few surprise visits during your lunch breaks.
Assuming there’s nothing really troubling about grandma’s babysitting skills, remember that although he’s your baby, he’s also her grandchild, and you’re fortunate to have a loving and responsible sitter.
As far as mom-in-law feeding the baby sugary foods or sitting him in front of cartoons all day, set out the rules from day one by putting them in writing and sticking them on the fridge. Say, “my pediatrician and I have a plan that will be the healthiest for little Jacob and will make life easier for all of us. Here’s what and when he should eat, ideas for putting him down at naptime and some activities that both of you will enjoy.”
Then, you just have to trust her. So those lunchtime check-ins won’t come across like a police raid, bring coffee or treats for you and your mother-in-law and tell her it was a slow day so you wanted to get a cuddle from your baby. Dropping in should give you a good idea of what’s going on while you’re away.
Finally, keep in mind that even the most conscientious caregivers allow occasional treats or have days they collapse on the couch and turn on elmo videos. No one is perfect. If your baby is happy, clean, well-rested and well- fed, and he gets the added bonus of developing a close relationship with his granny, a few extra cookies now and then aren’t so bad, right?