Parents that Have Separation Anxiety

What Parents Need to Know to Feel Comfortable with a Caregiver

In the book Touchpoints the Essential Reference, T. Berry Brazelton, M. D, explains, “We are all aware of how critical a nurturing environment can be to a small child, and that separation from a parent is traumatic in itself.”

But what about when the parent has separation anxiety for leaving their child in the care of someone else so the can work? Worrying about leaving a child in someone else’s care is normal for parents. Finding the perfect caregiver can alleviate a parent’s separation anxiety.

How do parents who must share a small child protect themselves and the child they must share? When is it best done? Can the separation be softened? Can a small child adjust to more than one caregiver and not give up the primary attachment to his parents?

The author explains, “Caring parents will grieve about sharing their baby with another person.”

He continues, “The competitive feeling for the child is a normal, inevitable part of caring deeply.” Although the feelings may not be conscious, deep-down parents question, “Will he remember me? When will I lose part of his love — especially if the other person is good with him?”

To reduce anxiety parents should hire quality caregivers. Brazelton tells parents, “If you can afford it for the child in the first year, at-home childcare might be optimal.”

He continues, “Your child will be in familiar surroundings. The separation from you and the accompanying bustle in the morning and evening can be somewhat less abrupt and hectic.”

“This demands that you find a special person, indeed. She must offer your baby an environment you would be proud of. The person must respect you and your household. She must have enough training and experience to understand babies, must be patient and respectful, and above all, adjustable,” explains Brazelton.

What parents need to look for in a caregiver, Dr. Brazelton says is, “consistency of caregiving behavior, the emotional investment from the caregiver, and the ability of each caregiver to respect the individuality of the baby.”

Brazelton continues, “She should be ready to respond to and prevent emergencies. She shouldn’t be passive, depressed, or in too much of a hurry.”

He suggests, “She should be full of ideas about what she can do with the baby all day and be ready to share them with you.”

Dr. Brazelton says, “The qualities of warmth and empathy become the most critical things in any supplementary caregiver.”

He suggests parents should ask themselves, “Does she [the caregiver] respect each baby in her care? I she sensitive to each child’s varying needs for food, a diaper change, sleep, and playful interactions?”

“Watch her when she holds the baby to see if she observes and adjusts her rhythms to the baby’s,” says Dr. Brazelton.

Hiring a quality in-home caregiver can help parents reduce their separation anxiety when leaning their children in the care of another.

What do you do as a caregiver to ease the parent’s separation anxiety?


  1. Steph, this is a really great essay affirming why a great nanny is a wonderful person in a working parent's life. Very appropriate for National Nanny Recognition Week.A caring at-home caregiver is the best choice for working parents that can afford it. I will print this essay to help remind myself of the best qualities described in the essay. Sandy in Brooklyn

  2. It really is important for nannies to consider the feelings of the parents. No one is perfect and the past two articles prove it's difficult to be a parent working outside the house.Also, the author of the book quoted in this article wrote amazing advice for parents and a great image of a nanny. He really understands what makes a great nanny. Caregiver should really see this article. Just awesome!

  3. I just love his advice for characteristics an at-home caregiver should have. These are sometime qualities you can't measure but so important.

  4. What a super listing of characteristics for a caregiver! I hope I am that sensitive to the needs of the children in my care!Lisa MarieRoanoke VA

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