Q: I work as a nanny for an agency that finds part-time to full-time jobs for us. I'm in my 20s and have had three part-time jobs so far: one at a school where I taught dance and light martial arts for young children, and two others where I took care of a couple children in each family. They were all fun jobs with great parents.
The family I work for now recently had a baby. Both parents work at home and can't take care of the baby, so they hired me to work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. The father is not involved with the baby at all, and the mom handles everything when I'm not there. She told me she doesn't like changing the baby's diapers, so when I arrive in the morning, the baby is sitting in soaked diapers and needs a bath to clean her up before I can put a clean diaper on her. The baby fusses a lot when her diaper is changed, so the mom told me she doesn't like to change it. That means the baby lies in a soaked diaper all night until I arrive.
I think this is terrible, and it's very hard to respect a person who has a baby and doesn't take care of it because certain tasks, such as changing diapers, are unpleasant. I started asking the mom when I arrive in the morning how long the baby has been sitting in a dirty diaper. She only tells me it's too hard to change it because the baby fusses.
I told the agency, but all they care about is having a client, so they won't do anything. The mom feeds the baby because she likes doing it, so she is not neglectful in every area. The baby doesn't have big rashes or sores yet, so the result of being in soaked diapers all night hasn't affected the skin's appearance yet, but I think it will eventually. What can I do?
A: Your first plan of attack is to inform the mom of potential skin problems caused by poor hygiene. According to the Mayo Clinic, "Diaper rash is a common form of inflamed skin (dermatitis) that appears as a patchwork of bright red skin on your baby's bottom. Diaper rash is often related to wet or infrequently changed diapers, skin sensitivity, and chafing."
Mayo also warns that babies with such a skin sensitivity often fuss or cry when the area is washed or even touched. It can clear up by changing the baby more frequently and letting the area air-dry before diapering. If the problem goes untreated, the rash can bleed, itch, ooze and cause burning or pain with urination. Finally, it can cause the baby to have a fever. Give such articles to the mom so she can read the facts on what her negligence can cause. It's possible the baby is fussing because, though no obvious sores or rashes can be seen by an untrained eye, the baby may already have overly sensitive skin, which causes pain and discomfort when the skin is washed.
It is sad and horrible that the mother avoids taking care of her baby simply because she thinks it is too much of a bother. If you don't see a change in the mom's behavior after giving her articles and the baby continues to react negatively to being washed in that area, take photos of the soaked diapers, the baby's skin and a video of the baby's reaction to being washed to show the agency. If the agency refuses to do anything, show the visuals to a doctor or nurse you might know. Ask if it's enough of a reason to report the mother for neglect to the Department of Children and Family Services. One can only imagine what other tasks the mother will avoid in the future because she deems them hard or unpleasant.
Email your workplace issues and experiences to [email protected] For more information about career and life coach Lindsey Novak, visit www.lindseyparkernovak.com, and for past columns, see www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak.
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