Will my baby prefer the nanny over me?

Nanny/Mommy Confusion

The same sort of bonding process does occur when a child is left in the care of a nanny, albeit somewhat more slowly and usually on a more superficial level. Remember that your nanny spends a good portion, if not all, of the day with your child, so it's natural that they form a strong alliance. And although some babies may traditionally have formed such a bond with only one person (often the mother), it's possible for babies to bond with multiple people, including the nanny. In fact, some researchers believe that babies who form strong attachments to more than one person may benefit in terms of social development later in life [source: Van Ijzendoorn].

While a strong bond between a nanny and a baby can be a beautiful thing, problems may arise when a baby begins to show a preference for the nanny over his or her parents. Imagine coming home from a long day away from your child only to find that he or she cries at the sight of you or refuses to let go of the nanny. Or worse, imagine hearing your baby call the nanny "mommy" (or "daddy," as the case may be) right in front of you. These can be sad and frustrating experiences for parents, especially if the nanny seems to be encouraging the behavior. It's natural to feel sad and perhaps a little angry about this, but you should try to avoid acting on these emotions. Instead, there are things you can do to reconnect with your child and create harmony between you and your child's caregiver.

First, keep in mind that having a nanny that is loving and lovable enough to illicit such a response from your child is a wonderful thing. It would certainly be worse to face the opposite situation, in which your child flies into fits of panic at the sight of the nanny. Also, remember that babies can be fickle, stuck like glue to someone one minute only to be completely nonchalant about their absence the next. And consider that while your baby may cry briefly when the nanny leaves, he or she probably also cried for you after your departure. Furthermore, bear in mind that the evening hours can be among the most difficult for infants and small children. This is usually the time of day when they are tired and can become cranky and less tolerant of changes to their routine [source: Hunziker].