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Five steps to help you prepare for life with an au pair

Having a new baby, whether it's your first child or third, can be daunting enough, but having your au pair to look after your precious new-born baby, can be a worrying experience for anyone.

Preparing for the first few months of your new baby's life, in particular, is essential as they are so dependent on you and your careful planning.

New-born babies need special care and attention as they begin to establish their routines of feeding, bathing, sleeping, transportation, and general safety.

It’s therefore essential that you choose the right au pair for your baby as not all young au pairs can cope with the responsibility and enormity of a new-born.

Au pairs tend to be young, aged between 18 and 26 years, and are a bit like foreign-exchange students with children skills!

If you want someone with a brand-new baby experience, it's a good idea to go to an au pair placement agency as their au pairs are taught essential new-born baby skills before they arrive with you.

Once you have employed your au pair, it is crucial you can communicate with them properly – openly and honestly about what you expect from them from the word go.

It'll be full-on once your baby has arrived, so it's a good idea to establish what it is you want their role to be.

The time before the baby comes could be in preparing for the five steps to ensure you, your baby, and the au pair is happy…

1. Routines
Routines are essential for most humans and particularly children, but babies seem to thrive on them, particularly when it comes to sleeping patterns and feeding habits.

Are you expecting the au pair to get up in the night when your baby cries to feed it, or will you be doing it yourself? 

If you intend to breastfeed, you could make up some night-time bottles, and the au pair could take this night-time feed for you.

Sleep routines are essential, and you'll have to decide whether you are going to have 'controlled crying' to establish this sleep pattern. Discuss this with your au pair, so you work together.

2. Developmental

During the first year of the baby's life, there are many developmental milestones, which are important events to discuss between the parents and the au pair.  These include physical, mental, and social growth.  Sometimes parents feel 'left out' if they miss essential stages – again, communication is vital to avoid this.

3. Baby safety

Baby safety is of paramount importance to everyone, and it is important that au pairs are trained in CPR as well as that the au pair can baby-proof the family home around everyday life.

4. Illnesses and medication

As babies can't verbalize that they feel unwell, it is important that au pairs know how to look for tell-tale signs and that the parents communicate how they would want the situation dealt with.  This could be hands-on with medication and visits to doctors etc.  Au pairs should be made familiar with thermometers, medicines, and medical centers.

5. Transportation

This includes driving and moving the baby from one place to another, whether in a car seat, in a car, or a pram or buggy.

Does your au pair have a driving license, how well do they know the bus or train schedules, the routes to the medical centers or hospital?

It’s important that you remember that your au pair is likely to be from a different country and have a different culture, so it’ll take time for them to adjust to yours.

Communication is the key to ensuring your new-born baby is safe and well looked after – if your au pair is happy, your baby is comfortable, and that makes you happy!