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Childcare And Parenting Expert Sigrid Daniel Answers Your Questions

Missed our Wednesday Lunch Club with parenting expert Sigrid Daniel in this week’s Wednesday Lunch Club? Don’t worry, you can read all of the advice she shared here

Every week at Mother&Baby we bring you the Wednesday Lunch Club – a chance to get brilliant advice for your pregnancy and parenting questions from a top expert.

And this Wednesday we handed our Facebook page over to childcare expert Sigrid Daniel.

Sigrid is a parenting expert and UK director for Care.com, which provides help and advice for families looking for additional care for their relatives. She also has her own blog, which is filled with parenting and childcare tips and news. 

If you missed the chat, here’s what happened…

What topics would you like covered in our Wednesday Lunch Club? Let us know in the comments box below.

I work part time and my daughter goes to nursery while I'm at work. But my husband works full time and I know he worries he's missing out on time with our daughter. She's often asleep when he gets home and he travels quite a lot, too. Anything you can suggest to help them stay close?

Sigrid: This is a really common issue when both parents work, or one parent works long hours. You don't say how old you daughter, but I have some suggestions, most of which should work for pre-schoolers.

Have one night a week when Eva gets to stay up a little later, in pyjamas and in her bedroom, to see Daddy. If you can agree which night it is regularly you can either stick to a routine, or have a ‘Daddy’ night when Eva gets to do everything 30 to 45 minutes later than usual so that she can have a bedtime snuggle or story with Daddy.

Use Face Time, Skype or a little video message. Using modern technology can be so helpful for parents who travel, and it can keep that bond going throughout the day.

Schedule Daddy time at the weekend, too. Have one night when Daddy does the bedtime routine so that Eva gets that special time at the weekend as well. That also gives Mum a break, too!

We have a fantastic nanny who my 19-month-old son loves but I do worry that he isn't having enough time with other babies and children. Do you think it's a good idea that he goes to nursery half the week and has a nanny the other days? I like the idea of one person I trust looking after him, though, instead of a couple of people looking after lots of kids at a nursery.

Sigrid: Are they able to attend playgroup sessions, music mornings or other activities that involve children your son's age? Positive socialising is crucial for this age, as your son learns about friendships, communication and trust. If your nanny already has a good balance of activities, socialising and quiet time at home every day, then I would recommend that your child stays with nanny until he is a little older.

Positive socialising is crucial for this age, as your son learns about friendships, communication and trust

However, you may find that by the time he reaches three, this is no longer enough and you should add two or three mornings per week to help prepare him for school.

Also, if your nanny is not socialising with your child enough, this does require a conversation between you and your son's nanny to guide her to what is best for your child's development.

For more on boosting your toddler’s development, click here.

What age do you think is suitable to change the cot bed to a ‘grown-up’ bed and take the side bars off? My 15-month-old son has started crying to be let out in the mornings.

Sigrid: Love to hear about a little one that knows his own mind! It sounds like your son thinks he is ready. If you already have a cotbed that can have the sides off easily, then why not see how safe and stable he is for getting in and out of the bed.

The next thing to do is to make sure that if he gets out of bed in the night or early in the morning while you are still sleeping, that he is in a safe environment. Is the bedroom childproofed? Are there things that he can knock over, pull down on himself or get his fingers trapped?

Next, check that the hallway and any stairs leading off it are also childproofed. If you find that your child is getting out of bed more frequently or coming in to see you very early in the morning, you could consider leaving him a special toy out that he can play with in his room safely, so that he is occupied for a little without you.

I would love to go back to work but am scared to leave my two kids with a stranger. Is it normal/OK to ask a nanny to spend time with both my children and myself for a 'trial' period and do you have to pay the full amount for this? I would want to make sure I get to know the person first before trusting her with my babies.

Sigrid: This is a perfectly natural feeling to have, and it's OK to deal with it in the way you suggest. In fact, most nannies would expect a trial period as being a nanny is one of the most personal careers you can take on.

At Care.com we suggest different types of trial period, depending on your needs, and these can all be covered off in the interview, offer letter or contract.

Firstly, your potential nanny's second interview should include the children, as this is key to seeing whether or not the chemistry is right for you all. A nanny who’s comfortable with children, knows how to interact informally and just get down on the floor to play, is always a winner in my book

Secondly, you can have a day or a week together for trial period and settling in. Once you are at this stage however, you will need to pay the nanny but you will not need to enter into a contract of permanent employment with them at this stage.

I'm seven months pregnant at the moment but would love to take a holiday this summer. Is that unrealistic with a newborn and can a newborn go on a plane and does he need his own passport?

Sigrid: First thing to do in this case is call the Passport Office. Your newborn will need a passport, and it's best to check on the turnaround time needed to register the birth, get the birth certificate, passport photo and other documentation ready in time. If your baby is late, you don't want to be caught out with the timing of your trip.

In terms of whether it’s unrealistic, well that all depends on the birth, your postnatal health and the baby's adjustment to life outside your tummy. Could you pencil in a few dates and locations now, then book them when baby is two weeks old or so? That way you'll know how everything has gone and whether or not you or baby are up to travelling.

My husband and I are thinking about driving to the south of France in the summer with our three children. We've got a four year old, a two year old and a four-month-old baby. Friends are telling us we're crazy for spending that long in the car with such young kids – are we? And can you suggest any ways to keep them all amused and us adults sane?

Sigrid: We have done this several times and with these ages, you already know that life can be unpredictable, so roll the dice with some of these tips and let me know how you get on!

Pack each child their own bag of goodies, which they can unwrap and enjoy on the journey

Don't have unrealistic expectations of how far you can drive in one day. Schedule a stop every two hours, except for when they are sleeping – in which case just drive on through the scheduled stop!

Pack each child their own bag of goodies, which they can unwrap and enjoy on the journey (someone will have to help little one with this particular task!). New toys, fun things to read, doodle on or eat are all useful.

Don't forget all your usual medication, wet wipes, nappies, favourite food – and pack double of what you normally need. There is nothing worse than a teething toddler, snuffly babe or headachy little one and no pharmacy to be found.

I've got three children under four and thinking about going back to work now that the youngest is nearing one. Is it cheaper for them to go to a nursery or a childminder? I don't want to spend a fortune but would love to start back on my career track.

Sigrid: You highlight two key considerations for parents – cost and keeping your career going. There are several ways to help with the cost.
With the eldest, you may already be eligible for free childcare hours, which you can use either at a nursery or a childminder's. You should also be able to get childcare vouchers for all of them through you or their Dad's work.

In terms of actual cost per hour, you'll find that childminders are cheaper. They can also be convenient, depending on where you live. Search Care.com's childminders via postcode and you should get a good idea of how many are available near you. Childminders cost approximately £3 to £4 per hour per child, whereas a nursery will cost you upwards of £5 per child per hour.

We're travelling to Scotland in August with our three children who will be six and a half years, 27 months and eight months. We know the journey will be around eight hours long. Is it realistic to only be stopping every two and a half hours for 30 minutes?

Sigrid: This has worked for us in the past. If you pack enough food and entertainment, you'll be surprised at how well a long drive can go. Also consider leaving at breakfast time, so that the children eat their first meal in the car and you miss the worst of the traffic.

Have you done any long journeys with them before? If so, you may already know if there are certain times of day that they are more likely to sleep or just chill out. Especially don't forget this one – if you can keep it a total surprise this works a treat!

Is there a particular topic that you would like covered in our Wednesday Lunch Clubs? Let us know in the comments box below.

 
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