More Transition Advice
Soften the Separation
Although a 3-month-old is too young to experience classic separation anxiety, many mothers notice that their infant tends to become fussier when her environment changes. To help your baby adjust more quickly to her new child-care arrangement, spend short periods away from her before you go back. "This helps her learn that it's perfectly normal for other people to take care of her too," says Dr. Beers.
Start your baby in child care (or have your mom or a sitter begin on-the-job training) several days to a week before you return. This will help your child get familiar with the routine and reduce your worries about her first day without you. Pack an item of your clothing, which carries your comforting smell. Rachel Plotnick, M.D., a pediatrician at Greater Baltimore Medical Center and a mother of two, adds that it's often easier for new moms to restart work midweek; that way you'll only have a few days to wait until the weekend.
No matter how foolproof your work and child-care arrangement may seem, there will almost certainly be times when things don't go smoothly. Babies and sitters get sick. Day-care centers may close for a maintenance day. Your boss might need you to stay after hours to complete a project. So you'll want to have a backup plan (or two) in place. Line up alternative caregivers -- your partner? a neighbor? your MIL? -- and ask about your child-care provider's sick-kid policy. And look for emergency child-care resources in your area.
It may sound like a lot of legwork, but the rewards for thorough preparation will pay off: Your baby will be well cared for, you'll be more content (and productive) at your job, and, best of all, you and your child can enjoy a happy reunion at the end of every day.
Originally published in the May 2012 issue of Parents magazine.
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