Tell us a little bit about yourself? What you do exactly and how you came to be a nanny?
Hello Hello!!! I’m Christopher Alderton a Childcare expert and nanny. I am qualified sleep trainer, breastfeeding consultant and PND (postnatal depression) specialist. I consult for families all over the world. My main nanny job is for twin girls aged 3yrs and their cousin, a boy aged 1 year. Being a male nanny wasn’t easy in the first few years. Lots of people would say to me “I get that men work with older children, but why do you want to work with babies?” This never upset it me it just motivated me more to prove that men are just as capable and passionate about working with under 5s. I am really big on equality and a huge feminist myself, so I love to make sure the girls know that they can achieve anything they want to. I followed in my mum’s footsteps, as she had always worked in early years. After qualifying I travelled abroad and worked as a nanny in a variety of places and then moved to London were I found my first nanny job with twins girls aged 11 months. The family then had a another child just 9 months after I started so I had 3 under 3’s to care for. The girls are now about to turn 8! I am actually their godfather which is so special. I live in North London with my partner Jay who is an interior designer. In my spare time I volunteer. I have worked with Great Ormand Street hospital, CHIVA (children’s hiv assooication) and the Terrence Higgins trust.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Watching little ones achieve all they can with support and encouragement. Its such an incredible privilege to be allowed to be part of a family team like I am now. It’s so wonderful when you give a child the tools, and your knowledge, and watch them achieve something…it makes me so happy!
What are the challenges?
I think leaving a family is always the hardest! It’s so sad after spending nearly every day with a child for 3 years or so then not seeing them at all. It is good to move on and let them grow. After all, change is good and a part of life.
What are your top three tips for a new mum or dad trying to get their baby into a routine? We all know how difficult this can be!
Yes isn’t it just!!! I think my top 3 tips would be:
- Children should fit into your life, make it work for you.
- Patience is key.
- Being consistent is everything. Babies/children need to try something at least three times to know if it’s going to work.
How important is the evening routine in settling babies down for the night? Can you tell us how you would do it?
The evening routine is really key. it’s just a great way to help you’re little one to know that the day is coming to an end and it’s time to sleep.
- Before you start the bedtime and bath time routine make sure the bedroom is prepped. The blinds and curtains are drawn. A soft lamp light is on. The room is calm and peaceful.
- Start bath time around 6pm have some fun with bubbles/bath toys but just before you’re about to get them out start talking in soft tones and say it’s time to calm down now.
- After bath, a little baby massage (for younger ones), then into Pyjamas and into the bedroom.
- On to the bedroom where you can have milk for babies and stories for any age. With older toddlers I like to talk about what has been the favourite part of their day? It is always normally food!
- Lots of cuddles!
- Then into bed when looking tired but around 6:45pm sing twinkle twinkle. I like to end with “sleep tight & dream bright”!
- Then enjoy an evening as an adult.
I believe, like I said, that making children fit into your life is important. So if you get in from work late then push bedtime back by a few minutes. Likewise, if they are exhausted bring it forward.
What do you think of dummies/comforters?
There is totally a place for them. I think if little ones have dummies get rid of them before they start to develop language is important. Plus making a rule that they only have them when they are sleeping. Comforters like a favourite cuddly toys is so special and helps little ones in time when they need it. When parents go off to work etc. Again I would only have them at sleep time or when they are really upset. Sometimes if a child has a comforter all the time it can stop them from playing and exploring.
Do you think control crying has a place and is good for baby?
Controlled crying can be a useful sometimes, I don’t believe in controlled crying for babies under 6 months. It really does depend on your baby. Some children really need to learn how to settle themselves. If you have more than one child you can’t always rush to get the baby. Teaching you’re child to self sooth is really important. More importantly, it’s good to read about sleep and sleep training before baby comes so you can have a good idea about what you can teach your baby.
What baby products do you love using?/what are your ‘go to’ brands?
- Lucas papaw ointment for one is AMAZING. Its brilliant for nappy rash, cuts, dry skin anything for baby and for you. I never go anywhere without it. Brilliant at stopping chickenpox scars!
- Bio oil is another one that I love for little ones especially for babies after the bath. It helps keep they skin smooth and keeps your hands soft as well. Also brilliant at stopping chicken pox scars!
- Wondersuits (bonds baby zip) that are available at John Lewis are fantastic for children from 6 Months up to 3yrs. They have no poppers and come in such a fabulous range of fun patterns and prints. Just zip up!!! So handy when you have little ones reflex and your changing clothes all the time. Or when they have just gone down to bed and decide they need their nappy changed!!!
- Anything you need for weaning I would use tommee tippee and Vital unbelieveabowl. They both have these great devices that stick the bowls down on the table or highchair so baby can’t throw bowl on the floor and helps them to explore and enjoy meal times.
- When your child reaches the age of 3yrs and they start to get out bed etc. The gro clock is the answer to keeping you sane. It has a sweet story that explains to children that they have to stay in bed until the sun comes up. After a few times it has never failed me and the children also feel like they are in control of their own sleep timings which is important.
Which products are a total waste of time and money…come on be honest?!
Ok I will give you the scoop. Firstly I know it is nice to dress baby up in cute outfits but seriously you will be changing and washing all the time. Babies should be in cotton baby grows for the first few months. Its soft on their delicate skin and easy to boil wash them all when you need to. Plastic horrible baby mats and baby gyms! Total waste of money and time. Baby will be much happier with a blanket kitted from granny and a load of ribbons to play with. I see why they are useful, but nappy bins are a total waste of money. Just put them in a normal bin and empty that at the end of the day.
We all know how scary it is when its time to ween baby, have you got any advice for a nervous mum or dad on how to make the process easier? (examples of what age to do it/what to introduce first here would be fab)
It really does depend on your baby to when you will need to start the wean process. All children are different and develop at his or her own pace. I think 6 months is a good age and always start with just vegetable. Something like sweet potato is good. I believe a blend of baby lead weaning and you feeding is such a combination to having a successful wean process. You must be prepared for mess and this is total fine. Quick tip. Buy a cheap shower curtain and put it under baby’s highchair for meal times. Then at the end of the day throw it on a quick wash. It will dry quickly and keeps mess small. Ella’s kitchen cook books are amazing and anything Annabel Karmel is also wonderful. Never ever make food a battle ground this is the number one rule. It should be fun and exciting to experience food.
What tips do you have for parents who have ‘fussy’ eaters? (feeding is a question that comes up all the time)
Be patient and take each little mouthful food as a win. Set them up to win at meal times and don’t push it too far. If they are a toddler let them see what you are preparing. Let them make a choice about what vegetable to have. Children love being involved. Praise all the good eating to high heaven make them feel really proud of what they have achieved.
What do you love doing with little ones?How do you keep them entertained? Any classes or playgroups that you can’t live without?
I love love making treasure baskets for little ones. This can be anything from a basket full of all different types of brushes, to a basket full of vegetables and fruit! I also love setting up role play games and love watching the children get carried away with whatever theme we are going with. Plus doing anything with a cardboard box. I once made a castle!!! Getting out and about is key for you and baby. Class wise I love hartbeeps which is sensory and singing baby class. Latino bambino is a super fun salsa class you can do with your baby in a baby carrier. Plus all local library’s do a free rhyme time which is fun
How would you deal with a toddler throwing a complete tantrum? What tips do you have to stay calm and keep them calm?
Tantrums can seem like they are the most horrible and stressful things to deal with. Sometimes they are but just consider that children are just voicing frustration which is OK. They have all these feelings and emotions running around in them that they don’t understand, it’s our job to help them understand them.
- Stay calm and breath through it (that’s you not them)!
- Be emphatic to the situation. “ I know you want to play with your cars and its super fun. We can do that when we have been to the shops to pick some fruit. Why don’t you help me with choosing the fruit”.
- If you have time let them ride it out. If they are really screaming just tell them that you can’t talk to them until they have calmed down. I always ask once they are quiet if they have finished?
- NEVER shout! Shouting is not needed as much as I am sure you would like to. It just shows children that it is ok to shout and talk to address someone in that way which it isn’t.
- Tag team! If it’s the weekend and both parents/careers around and you just can’t do anymore tag someone in to take over.
- Once it is all over have a cuddle and say “all forgotten “. Children don’t hold grudges so let it go.
Being firm and consistent is the greatest kindness you can show your child.
Feel free to get in contact with me anytime to help out. Plus look out soon for my new instagram page with lots of fun ideas and tips.