The Interwebz has been a great tool for parents to share information, solidarity, and cautionary tales since the inception of message boards. Though there are now gazillions of sites like this one that now offer sage parenting advice and stories, today’s comes from an unlikely source: Reddit. An anonymous user there who is a former daycare worker and babysitter posted a story about sleeping babies that has gone viral because, well: it’s simply awful.
Reddit user 561349 answered a Reddit prompt question, “What was the most satisfying time you caught someone lying?” with a response that set the parenting interwebz ablaze. The Redditor’s very long answer to the question began with a simple principle: as a babysitter or childcare worker, she (I will assume it’s a woman and use the pronoun “she” for convenience in this article) says she makes it her policy to “never accept babies sleeping in car seats or sleeping children at all.”
“So if Mom or Dad brought a kid asleep, I immediately woke them up and pulled them out of their car seat,” the user added. “This made so many parents displeased with me but it’s policy.”
Sleeping babies might not be merely sleeping
The reason, she says, is that she learned an awful experience that parents or caregivers can use sleep as a way to hide child abuse.
“One day a grandma brought a baby asleep and he was not waking up at all. Just raise his head, whimper and go back to sleep,” the Redditor explained. “Immediately my boss called 911 and grandma was trying to down play ‘he had a rough night, he’s just tired, etc.'”
But this experienced daycare worker knew this baby and knew this wasn’t normal for him. “He wouldn’t sleep if he thought he was going to miss out, we had music playing and kids loudly singing and dancing,” she wrote.
She went on to say that this was, unfortunately, not this grandmother’s first offense.
“Turns out Granny had a history of giving kids stuff to knock them out when she babysat but this time she did it to a 6-month-old and that’s why he wouldn’t wake up. I think they pumped the kid’s stomach and he had a stay at the hospital,” the user continued. “Legal actions were taken and the family moved away.”
Um, SCARY! What’s even sadder and scarier is that the Redditor says that policy was in place at her work because her boss had seen it all before from parents or caregivers.
“To clarify,” she says, “the policy was put in place because my boss knew abusers have been known to do this. They’d break the kid’s arm, dose them, dump them with the sitter who lets the baby asleep all morning then because the kid was with the sitter all day, it’s easy to blame them for the baby’s injury. Or worse, the baby died and they do this to blame the sitter.”
From then on, she decided that even when she was babysitting privately for a family, she’d never accept sleeping babies or children from a parent, for everyone’s safety.
“To this day if I’m babysitting, I don’t accept sleeping children. I flat out refuse to watch kids at their home while they’re sleeping for the same reason,” she said. “I’ve pretty much stopped doing any child care because as much as I love kids, watching parents make bad decisions on purpose, when they know better, was killing my soul.”
Well. If that’s not depressing, I don’t know what is. But of course we know that in our society, it’s a reality that parents sometimes hurt their own children. I have to say that when my kids start babysitting, I’ll definitely caution them about accepting sleeping babies (especially because it’s not safe to let them sleep in a car seat anyway!) to protect themselves as well as the sweet ones they are caring for.
What do you think of this policy? I think it’s super sad and inconvenient to have to put it into place, but from a liability standpoint, it makes all kinds of sense.