Tips for leaving your baby with a babysitter

Written by joanna ehlers
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Taking back your personal time

Tips for leaving your baby with a babysitter
Babies worry less when mums treat brief separations casually. (ONOKY - Fabrice LEROUGE/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Leaving my baby with a sitter was harder on me than it was on her.

— Karen Gier, paraprofessional and mum

Even the most attentive parent needs a break occasionally. The first time Karen Gier left her four-month old with a babysitter, she had feelings of guilt and apprehension, even though her babysitter was a trusted friend and experienced caregiver. "Leaving my baby with a sitter was harder on me than it was on her." While it's normal to have a sense of guilt upon taking your personal time back, experts insist that time away from the duties of motherhood is actually good for you, and that you may find yourself refreshed and ready to shoulder your responsibilities with renewed energy after an evening to yourself, with a partner or with friends.

Choose a reliable babysitter

You want your baby to have the best of care, even when you're not at home. Your babysitter should be trustworthy, mature and able to follow your directions. Finding a reliable sitter doesn't have to be difficult; you can rely on your social or work connections for recommendations, or you can ask a trusted relative, such as baby's adoring grandparents.

Reliable babysitters should come with a list of references and plenty of experience with children. You might consider whether or not your sitter is certified in lifesaving techniques. You might also prefer to familiarise your little one with your babysitter by inviting her over before your big night out for a "practice run." This will allow your baby and his babysitter to get better acquainted, and allow you to watch your sitter's interactions with your baby.

Plan ahead

When you're a mum, you're prepared for everything, and your night out is no exception. Although you're used to doing everything on your own, your baby's caretaker will need all the information you're used to handling by yourself. If you're nervous about forgetting something, write it down in advance to ensure that you've remembered all the important details.

Be certain to provide your babysitter with specifics concerning your baby's disposition, his preferences and schedule. When meals come on time and his bedtime routine is as normal as possible, your baby will be less likely to fuss. You can set your baby and his sitter up for success by ensuring that your little one has been fed and his nappy is clean before you leave. To ensure that your baby has fun when you are out on the town, provide him with a new book or toy that will keep him busy while you are gone.

Go and have fun

You're ready to leave your home, and you've made all the preparations for your baby's care. When you reach the door, your baby begins to cry. While it's normal for young children to worry -- at least for a few minutes -- when their parents leave, it can be difficult for you to walk out of the door. With practice and a good babysitter's assistance, your baby will make the transition smoothly.

Leaving your wee one in someone else's care for any length of time is often harder on you than it is on your baby, according to What to Expect. Most babies between 2 and 3 months operate by the "out of sight, out of mind" principle and will stop fussing a few minutes after you leave, as long as they are entertained by a capable babysitter. To prepare your baby (and yourself) for the inevitable separation, begin by leaving him with his babysitter for just 15 minutes. Gradually lengthening the time you're away will ensure that you both are comfortable and relaxed when you leave for longer periods of time. When it's time to walk out the door, keep your goodbye casual, give your baby a kiss and leave without ceremony.

Tips and warnings

  • Your time away from your baby will be less stressful for both of you if he is kept at home. Keep your goodbye short and sweet to decrease your baby's anxiety. Try to enjoy your time away and don't feel guilty for needing it.

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