Dear Savvy Auntie,

I am the aunt of three gorgeous babies, but there is one I am concerned about.

My SIL fell pregnant and had a baby last year. During her pregnancy she was very unhappy as this baby was not planned. She would skip meals and drink shakes to keep her weight down (She had no morning sickness). She did not want the baby to get too big and was worried about her skin stretching. She was induced two weeks early and the baby landed up in the NICU for 4 days

Since the baby was a month old, my SIL would leave the baby at my MIL from Friday to Sunday and not visit at all. (This was mainly so she and her husband would have time to shop, drink and spend time with friends. She also had 5 months of maternity leave and still missed out on weekends with the baby during this time). She is back at work and the baby goes to a daycare all week long from 7:00 AM to 5:30 PM daily. Even with that, she will still leave him for the weekend.

I, and many other people in the family, believe what she is doing is wrong. As I am not a parent, I know this limits what I can say. I am not sure what to do. No one will speak up and I am scared this is hurting the baby in some way. Am I overreacting?

Concerned Aunt

Dear Concerned Aunt,

Your SIL’s lack of maternal feeling is troubling; of course you should be concerned. It sounds as if her self absorption preempts her awareness of her baby’s needs began even in pregnancy. I am suspicious of drug and/or alcohol addiction.

I suggest you first speak to the baby’s father and see if he is on the same page as you are. Next, can you meet with other members of the family to find ways of helping your SIL? Both of these ideas seem unlikely, I fear - but worth a try.

Is it possible for you to increase your involvement through the daycare facility?  Even a limited contact with a loving person has a big impact on development. Try to remember that babies are extremely resilient.

I also suggest that you get the short book "Diary of a Baby" by Daniel Stern. It chronicles the development of the baby as if the baby is speaking of their experience and offers an explanation to the adult. It is one of my favorites.

I wish you good luck,
Natalie Robinson Garfield

Photo: Siriwat.jr

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