Sophie Chese-Msowa Lifestyle Correspondent
What am I going to do with my baby? Who will take care of him/her during my absence? Will the person be able to take good care of him or her?
These are normal questions that come to a mother whose maternity leave is coming to an end.
Leaving your two-month or three-month old baby with someone is never an easy thing to do but because one has to work to fend for that baby and is left with no choice but to look for a baby minder.
The problem then comes in choosing the baby minder.
Who can take good care of a baby?
A research carried out by this publication showed that it is difficult to settle for someone as a baby minder.
Sharon Chiona of Budiriro said it is wiser to look for someone who once had a child than to look for someone who does not have her own child because the one who has her child knows better about babies unlike someone who does not have one.
“Someone who has a baby knows specific things about babies, for example how to feed them. Having someone like that as a baby minder is much wiser, at least you do not have to worry about baby hygiene and care,” she said.
Liliosa Nyamadzawo of Glen Norah had different opinion.
“I would prefer a baby minder who is young whom I am able to communicate with and also tell her what I really want without hesitation. What can I do with someone of my age or who is older than me? I cannot even tell her what I want because of the age difference,” she said.
From the survey, it was discovered that those who have young girls as baby minders are facing problems including babies being left alone while the young baby minder attends to friends or boyfriends.
Those who prefer older baby minders also have their challenges.
They say those grown-ups end up doing what they used to do to their children for example giving small babies mealie-meal meal porridge among other things.
“As for me, I do not prefer someone who has her own children and I do not prefer those younger girls but I prefer the middle-aged. If you take someone who has her children, she will end up raising your child the way she raised hers of which as mothers we have our own unique ways of raising our children.
“For instance if you want your baby to be fed with cereals and the older baby minder might suggest something else or even feed that to the baby. At the end of the day you have problems.
“Young baby minders are even worse in the sense that they end up concentrating on silly things forgetting that the baby needs attention this is because they are not yet serious with life especially baby care. Very few are good with babies though,” she said.
Many described the issue of baby minders as a sensitive one, concluding it is out of desperation that they leave their children in the care of baby minders.
“The issue is so sensitive. Some of these child minders have funny character. Some of them may not change diapers the whole day and the baby ends up having skin rash or other skin diseases,” said Christine Chibika of Hatcliffe.
However, some people who spoke to The Saturday Herald Lifestyle said they had wonderful baby minders who have been taking good care of their children.
“I think it depends with an individual, I have been with my maid since my baby was four months old and now he is four years old. I just told her what I expect from her and that is what she is doing up to now, so I think it depends on individuals,” said Tendai Banda.
Others say the problem is not only with baby minders but their employers as well. Some ill treat the baby minders and at the end of the day they vent their anger on the baby.
“This issue is reciprocal, it is a two-way thing, the employer must take good care of the baby minder because to tell the truth baby minders are the lowest paid people yet they do a great job, so I think we need to reward them well and also buy them some little things they might need.
“Well-kept baby minders take good care of babies. Sometimes people who are having problems with their baby minders are the cause of such problems. It’s important that you check yourself as an employer before blaming these baby minders,” said Anesu Katsiyo
Caring for children can be demanding and tiring but a good child minder has lots of energy and enthusiasm regardless of the challenging task.
A child minder needs to show commitment to all aspects of the baby’s emotional, social and intellectual development. In Zimbabwe there are no formal qualifications required for someone to become a child or baby minder. However, they do need to prove themselves on the job.
Every mother needs their baby to grow up in a conducive environment.
Therefore there is need for every mother to constantly check on their baby minder and how she interacts with the child.
It is also every mother’s wish to be relaxed when she is not in the presence of her baby. All having been said and done, babysitting is not as easy as imagined.
It is about taking care of a stranger’s child and characters definitely always differ.
The baby minder is expected to be energetic, playful, and responsible all at once.
Being the best babysitter isn’t just about getting a child to like you, it’s about proving to parents as well.
Mothers sometimes get disturbed at work when they hear stories of wayward maids. The question: ‘is your baby safe at home?’ sometimes brings anxious moments.