Melatonin gummies and other nanny horror stories

Seeing this story today about the three Kiddie Junction daycare workers in Des Plaines who allegedly gave melatonin gummies to the 2-year olds in their care at nap time conjured up some memories.

They weren’t good ones.

I have utilized both nannies and daycare centers to care for my children and stories like this surface from time to time about daycare centers, especially the small centers or home daycares that do not have the standards that the larger chains do. Unfortunately, I have to say I have a number of similar stories about the nannies hired by me or acquaintances of mine to care for our children.

These stories are equally frightening and infuriating. Daycare won’t so much as put sunscreen on my child without me obtaining a doctor’s consent yet they are handing out melatonin gummies in the 2-year old room? According to one report, the gummies were from Walgreens and it states on the bottle they are not for use in children under 16 and there were only 4 left in the bottle. Again, frightening on several levels.

There is a perception out that that nannies are more qualified than your average daycare center teacher and stories like this one with the melatonin gummies reinforce this false stereotype. With nannies, we set the expectations, we show them what to do, often they are under contract, and unlike most daycare centers the pay tends to be better. At the end of the day though as parents we are primarily relying on the experience they claim to bring to the table. I know people who use so-called nanny cams to check up on their caregivers during the day but I never did. I went to work to work, not to constantly check up on the sitter. Besides if I can’t trust my caregiver, there are bigger problems. So I relied on my instinct, the sense that is inherently honed the moment you give birth.

But still these kinds of incidents happen. Below are just a few that I personally know of. I have preserved anonymity here but I will say one of these stories happened to me.

  • A mom of a 18-month old had just recently completed a residency in general surgery and was fortunate enough to land a job at a private practice. Since her new job had hours that were incompatible with the hours of every daycare center in the area, she hired a nanny to care for her toddler. On her first day of work the nanny never showed up. Phone calls went unreturned. Could you imagine being one of her patients with surgery scheduled that day?
  • A parent of another 18-month old boy came home at the end of the day to discover her son was running a 102 fever. When asked the nanny how long he was running a fever the nanny said since about noon that day. While asking the nanny why she didn’t call to inform her about the fever, the mon noticed an orange oblong shaped pill on the floor, just inches from where her son was playing. Noticing the pill looked just like her daily vitamin, the mom again asked the nanny why that was on the floor. The nanny said she sometimes takes vitamins and it dropped. It turns out the nanny was stealing her employer’s one-a-day vitamins which contain enough iron to kill a toddler, that is, if the toddler doesn’t choke on it while trying to swallow it.
  • One nanny of a 9-month old boy needed to pick some things up at Target. She buckled the baby in the carseat and off they went for what was to be a quick errand. That is, until the nanny decided to shoplift, hiding the items in the baby’s stroller. Loss prevention was onto her though and apprehended her and the baby in the parking garage. Both nanny and baby were taken down to the police station where the nanny was booked on shoplifting charges. The police called the baby’s parents at work, asking them to come down to the station to pick up their baby.

To be fair, the overwhelming majority of the time daycares and nannies provide excellent care that enable parents to continue working. They are energetic, caring and the children make wonderful learning strides under their care. They help children take those first steps, get them to finish their bottles, get them on a nap schedule, change some fairly nasty diapers and so much more. The work certainly isn’t glamorous but it is important work.

Still, from time to time these horror stories inevitably surface. I suppose parents now need to remind the nanny or daycare teacher that administering melatonin gummies at naptime is NOT okay.

What was the worst thing that happened while your child was under the care of a daycare center or nanny?


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Tags: parenting

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