A tragedy out of Long Island, New York sounds more like the punchline to a cruel joke. But it's anything but funny. An obese nanny died while babysitting her 1-month-old charge, falling on the baby and suffocating him.
The baby's father -- Michael Baldwin, a TV personality -- found the nanny and then made the gruesome discovery of his son beneath her after he was unable to locate the child elsewhere. It's an unimaginable tragedy made almost worse by the macabre nature of the death.
The woman was described as "extremely heavy" by Detective Lt. Gerard Pelkofsky, who said: "She was extremely large-breasted ... Because of the amount of flesh, it could have caused the baby to suffocate." Horrific. Something one can scarcely imagine as a parent. And yet, as a parent, that kind of obesity would have sent up red flags for me from the start.
In the five years I have been hiring sitters, never once has a woman applied who was anything but fit. I have had hikers who recently completed the Appalachian trail, yoga teachers, runners, and backpackers interview and sit for my kids, and they have all done very, very well. So it's hard for me to even imagine a sedentary person watching my kids.
Now, obviously this nanny was hired to care for a baby. Maybe she was warm and wonderful and had all the makings of a loving nanny for a tiny infant. However, my children are active. They run, they jump, they play. They need to be lifted to reach the monkey bars and played with at the park. We live a lifestyle that includes a great deal of walking. So this is the kind of activity I expect from a person I hire to spend time with my kids.
Would I give an obese applicant a chance if she was qualified? Maybe. If she told me she was active and healthy. It's possible to be healthy and overweight. But we aren't talking about overweight. We are talking about morbidly obese. This has been discussed on CafeMom before, and many agreed that hiring an obese nanny isn't a great idea. Of course, the worry that she might suffocate a baby would never even cross my mind.
Frankly put, if the applicant couldn't walk the miles we walk every day to and from the park or chase my daughter on her bike, I'm not sure she'd be my first choice. Do I feel guilty about it? Sure. But I wouldn't short-change my kids because I feel guilty. The Post article also implies that this woman had health problems besides the obesity, which certainly wouldn't be acceptable. Simply put: A person with ailing health isn't right for the job.
At any rate, we send our thoughts out to these grieving parents for what amounts to a tragic accident. But for other parents, maybe it does warrant a discussion.
Would you hire an obese nanny?
Image via Tobyotter/Flickr