Caring for an infant comes with its own set of unique challenges and rewards. It’s a job that takes a lot of responsibility and organization, of course—but the benefits in the end are so worth the work. After all, you’re helping to sculpt a young life; you get to watch your host baby speak their first words, try their first foods, even take their first steps!
As an au pair to an infant, there are tons of things to learn and know about their daily routines and needs. Taking care of a child under 2 requires a whole different skillset and understanding that needs to be learned!
Luckily, there are countless people in the Cultural Care support network that can offer a helping hand and a listening ear.
Not only will your host family have plenty of guidance and input for you, but your fellow au pair friends will too! In fact, we’ve compiled here some of the best pieces of advice and reflection from au pairs who have come to the USA to care for infants. They break down all the things an au pair should know about infant care, their favorite parts of caring for infants, and their tips and tricks on how to manage your small children in a way that helps you bond and have fun:
“Caring for an infant is an incredible journey, and you get to see them grow every day. It can be rough at times but the good times outweigh the bad, so hang in there when the crying seems to never end because something amazing is just around the corner. It’ll make up for all of it, I promise.”
“I had one of my host kids since she was born and she is now two! I’ve been with her every step of the way. It is absolutely beautiful and amazing to see them grow and learn. And it is all because of you. You become their second mom!”
“When you take care of an infant and spend a lot of time with him or her, you will most likely develop a very strong bond. For me, the baby sometimes chooses me over the parents when they’re home—he takes the bottle from me easier and I can put him to bed quicker than his parents. It can feel very weird when the parents want to take the baby but it cries because it wants you. It can happen and I think it’s important to talk to the parents about it because it can be hard for them too.”
“Remember to enjoy it! Being around such a small human fills you with love, pride and happiness. It might look hard because it is hard—but when they start calling your name or doing stuff with you, prepare to have your heart melted.”
“Don’t expect it to be too easy—there are days that will challenge you, especially if you have more then 1 child. Make sure you are infant qualified. Infants are a lot of work and depend on you. They can’t fend for themselves; it’s your job to know what their cry means, whether they are hungry, tired, need a diaper change or are hurt and upset.”
“My favorite thing about caring for an infant is that you get to live with them and the family for every first thing they do! First tooth, first word, first time they eat real food, first crawl, first walk, first Christmas, first birthday. I guess, for me, it was like this because my baby was 2 months old when I got here so I got all this beautiful experiences and first things with her!”
“My best advice to anyone caring for an infant is to stay calm! Take a deep breath and you can do it! I never thought I could take care of 3 kids all under the age of 5, but I do it and I handle it well. The most important thing is: don’t be afraid to ask questions! There are no stupid questions for host families—if anything, they are happy that you ask, so you don’t do it wrong because you guessed how it was supposed to be instead of finding out!”
“Caring an infant is such a huge responsibility. You’re going to spend max. 45 hours per week with them and you’ll be like their mom, big sister or aunt. For this reason, you have to be a role model for them, they’re going to do what you do and say!”
“My very best piece of advice if you currently are or will be taking care of an infant is to be your truer self. Be the person you would want to look at if you were a kid: Be funny, be sage, be polite, be patient, be responsible. Don’t be on your phone too much, read them a lot of books, put some music on, sing, and dance. If you play an instrument, do it with them and for them. Doesn’t matter how tiny they are, or if they do or don’t pay attention to what you’re doing—they’re still learning all of that, but it’ll help them grow better. Take long walks in the park, let them be in the fresh air and smell new smells, take them to the park to touch things, play with them and leave them some space to learn and explore the world by themselves. Maybe it won’t be always easy, but don’t worry, it takes time to unfold little humans, be patient and don’t lose your temper.”
“Every baby is different, but the one thing they all have in common is… they are always going to surprise you! So have fun, laugh with your babies and remember that every day they will teach you something new!”
Start your application today and get one step closer to becoming an au pair in the USA. Begin the next exciting chapter of your life!