Leave childcare to Thais, doctor urges

Ayutthaya — A paediatrician is concerned about parents hiring migrant workers as babysitters, saying they put their children's development at risk at a crucial early age.

Duangporn Asvarachan, also deputy director of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Hospital, said parents should understand the influence of babysitters and domestic helpers from different cultural and social environments.

Dr Duangporn raised the concerns after seeing large numbers of migrant workers register as babysitters and domestic helpers. She is in charge of medical check-ups for the registered workers.

She said there are risks with hiring migrant workers as nannies, no matter which countries they are from. In the first five years of life, children learn through observation and imitation.

"If we hire migrant workers to take care of children day in and day out, the children will copy the babysitters' characteristics. They can grow up being like them in terms of behaviour, mindsets, and social skills.

"It is a delicate matter and precautions should be taken," she said.

If possible, babysitting should be reserved for Thais, the paediatrician said.

She suggested the National Council for Peace and Order take action on the issue.

"Childcare tasks should be limited to Thais only. Incentives should be introduced to attract Thais back to the profession. And parents should not leave their children entirely in the care of babysitters," she said.

She said many Thais hire migrants for domestic help because they are cheap. Thais shun such work and leave it to those who do not demand high pay.

She admitted parents who hire migrant workers as domestic helpers find the workers can provide many additional services.

According to the doctor, when it comes to raising children, parents should be willing to invest time and effort in the task themselves.

In the past, parents hired Thai nannies, most of whom were from the North and Northeast, she said.

Some children learned local dialects and developed tastes for food from the nannies' home areas.

However, she said that did not raise concerns because those babysitters shared similar cultural backgrounds.

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