All parents get extremely anxious when it comes to leaving their baby for the first time. Whether it’s for an hour, a day or an entire weekend away – it can be terrifying being away from your little one.
Since they arrived home, you’ve been with them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So, separation anxiety, regardless of how long you’ll be away from your little one, can be difficult to deal with.
If you’re planning on heading out without your little one in tow for the first time, below you’ll discover 10 essential tips which you may find useful.
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1. Practice Being Away From Baby
Although you’ll still be anxious when it comes time to leave baby for the first time, it can help to do a little trial run. Start by leaving them for short periods of time with someone you trust. This could be your partner, a family member or friend.
You could head to the store, go for a little walk around the block or head out to have coffee with a friend. These short periods away from your baby will build up your confidence and reassurance that they’re perfectly fine when you leave them for a little while. This in turn will make it much easier to leave them for longer periods of time.
2. Leave Them In A Familiar Setting
Ideally, you’ll want to ensure you’re leaving baby with a caregiver in your own home. Your little one is much less likely to become upset if you’re not there when they’re in a familiar setting. You’ll also worry a lot less as you’ll know that everything they need is within easy reach for the caregiver.
If you have to leave them at the caregiver’s house, be sure to leave plenty of familiar items to help them settle. This could include their favorite toys, blankets and an item of your clothing.
3. Create A List Of Emergency Numbers
While you definitely don’t want to think of anything going wrong, it can help to ease your worries if the caregiver has emergency contact information. Create a list of emergency numbers including your baby’s pediatrician and an alternative number for you or someone you trust just in case the sitter can’t reach you. Cell phones may be useful, but they aren’t always reliable when it comes to signal. So, always have an alternative number you can be reached on.
You’ll also want to include numbers for hospitals, the fire department, poison control and medical insurance numbers if your child has one. This all sounds pretty scary, but the reality is it’s highly unlikely the sitter will need this emergency information. It’s just always worth having it all there just to be on the safe side.
4. Avoid Feeling Guilty
OK, so you’re not going to be able to eliminate guilt altogether. However, you need to remember that you deserve a break. Being a parent is a really tough job that can zap your energy, leaving you feeling utterly exhausted. The truth is, when you’re so run down you’re not going to be the most effective parent you could be. So, having a little “you” time every now and again is necessary, not selfish.
It’s also really good for baby to be left with someone trustworthy too. They’ll find it easier to bond with other people, rather than just you. This in turn can actually make it easier later on in their life, such as when it comes time to leave them at daycare. It helps to build a little independence, so they don’t find it as traumatizing when you do need to leave them at daycare.
So, this rare time away from baby has fantastic benefits for both of you!
5. Write Down Your Baby’s Schedule And Preferences
As well as leaving emergency contact information, you’ll also want to give the sitter a list of your baby’s favorite things, along with their schedule. Is there a favorite toy which settles baby instantly? If so, let the sitter know! The more they understand your baby’s preferences, the fewer problems they’ll experience.
By writing down their routine too, the sitter will be able to stick to it as closely as possible. This will guarantee you won’t have to spend days getting baby back into their routine.
6. Leave Them With Someone You Know And Trust
This may sound pretty obvious but leaving baby with someone you know, and trust, is going to make the experience a lot less stressful. You know they’ll be in good hands and this will help you to relax a lot more while you’re away.
Of course, it may not be possible to leave your little one with a friend or family member, in which case you’ll need a babysitter you don’t know. In this case, interviewing several sitters and thoroughly going over their references will help provide much-needed reassurance.
We recommend reading over our ultimate guide to choosing a good babysitter, which contains everything you need to know to make the right hire.
7. Remain Calm When Leaving
No matter how anxious or upset you are, never let this show when it comes time to leave baby. Remember, babies are like sponges – they pick up and absorb everything around them, including bad vibes. So, if you’re stressed or upset, they’re going to pick up on that and become upset themselves.
Remain calm when holding baby before you go and if you need to, repeat a mantra in your head that this is a good thing and baby will be absolutely fine. Treat it as a standard event and you’ll find it’s much less traumatic.
8. Leave A Piece Of Your Clothing In Baby’s Crib
A great tip to ensure baby settles without you, is to leave a piece of your clothing behind. Ideally, you’ll want an unwashed t-shirt or something which has your scent on it. That way, when the sitter puts your baby to nap or sleep, they’ll find it comforting to have your familiar scent there with them.
This can also help to settle baby if they won’t stop crying. Just the familiar smell of you should be enough to calm them if needed.
9. Avoid The Urge To Keep Calling
It’s perfectly normal to want to call and check in to see how baby is doing while you’re gone. However, only allow yourself to make one phone call. The last thing the sitter needs is to have to answer your calls every half an hour to reassure you. Not only will this lead to the sitter becoming stressed, but it prevents them from doing their job effectively and could lead to baby becoming unsettled too.
You’re going to think about baby a lot while you’re away, but remember, they’re in safe hands! If something was wrong, the sitter would call you. So, resist the urge to keep checking in and just focus on yourself.
10. Relax And Have Fun!
This last tip is potentially the most important. How many times do you actually get to go out without baby in tow? When was the last time you really let your hair down? Don’t waste this golden opportunity by stressing about baby, who is more than likely doing perfectly fine without you there for this short period of time!
Relax, enjoy this rare moment and use it as a chance to recharge your batteries. You work hard raising your baby, so you deserve a little down time every now and again.
Overall, leaving your baby for the first time is going to be scary. You will feel guilty and anxious and feel the need to call the sitter every two minutes. It’s normal, but the tips above can really help to lower that first separation anxiety.
Do you have any more tips not featured on the list above? Share them in the comments below.