6 Common Concerns Parents Have When Leaving Their Baby Overnight

Leaving your baby overnight can trigger a roller coaster of emotions, but it may be a good thing for both of you.

Grandmother Holding Grandson
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When Cathy Hale, who lives in Austin, Texas, left her 8-month-old son, Steele, with his grandparents so she and her husband could get away for an anniversary trip to Las Vegas, she cried as they pulled out of the driveway, teared up when she saw other babies en route, and called home multiple times a day. But at some point, she actually started to enjoy herself. "Sure, my husband and I worried when we weren't close by, but we desperately needed the chance to rest, recharge, and refocus," says Hale.

It's totally natural to be worried about the thought of leaving your little one. But as much as you adore your baby, a 24-hour or longer break may be just what you need: a chance to take a breather, reconnect with your spouse, and maybe even sleep through the night. Whether you're traveling on a business trip or for a mini vacay, use our guide to learn how to get past common concerns and feel better about your time apart.

I'm Not Sure Who to Leave My Baby With

The better your kid knows their caregiver, the smoother their overnight will be. "Grandma or Auntie or a regular nanny is always better than bringing in a new babysitter," says Fran Walfish, Psy.D., author of The Self-Aware Parent. So if your baby hasn't spent much time with the sitter, test the waters with date nights before you try for an overnighter.

When you're ready to leave your little one for the night, consider having the sitter come to you rather than leaving your baby at their house, suggests Dr. Walfish. Familiar surroundings will make your child feel more secure.

My Baby's Routine Might Get Messed Up

For her first weekend getaway without 14-week-old Sophie, Nikki Boone, of Middletown, Delaware, made sure her father- and mother-in-law were prepared: "I sent them e-mails with instructions for picking Sophie up from her child care center and about her feeding schedule. I also posted her schedule on our fridge."

It's smart to pass along info about your baby's likes, dislikes, and daily activities. If your baby can stay on their usual routine it'll be less stressful, says Dr. Wider. But remember that it's not the end of the world if your sitter does things a little differently than you would.

My Baby Is Too Young

Between 4 and 9 months is the overnighter sweet spot. Before that, your baby may still be perfecting breastfeeding, waking up a lot at night, and bonding with parents, which makes it a less-than-ideal (but not impossible) time to leave them with a sitter overnight.

On the other hand, wait too long and you may have a new set of problems. "Separation anxiety starts to rear its ugly head between 9 and 15 months," says Ari Brown, M.D., a pediatrician and coauthor of Baby 411. "So if you ever want to get away with your spouse, do it before this phase."

I'm Breastfeeding

A night or even a week away doesn't have to doom a cozy nursing routine and relationship. Although business trips took her away from her baby, Micah, for up to eight days at a time, Dana Marlowe, of Silver Spring, Maryland, always packed a breast pump, freezable gel packs, and insulated bags.

She also booked hotels with an in-room fridge to ensure that she had a place to stow what she pumped. And she carried a copy of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rule that allows a breastfeeding parent to bring more than 3 ounces of milk through airport security, even when traveling without their child.

Just be sure to give your baby pumped milk from a bottle a few weeks before your trip to get them used to eating this way, suggests Jennifer Wider, M.D., author of The New Mom's Survival Guide. Test out different nipples and bottles until you find one your baby likes.

My Baby Will Miss Me

Yes, your baby may miss you, but doing some prep work will help your baby take it all in stride. For starters, don't plan a secret escape if your baby is 9 months or older. "Many parents think it's easier to sneak away and avoid the drama as you walk out," says Dr. Brown. "But telling your child you're leaving will help relieve her separation anxiety."

Then create ways to stay in touch while you're gone. When Jennifer MacKenzie Baker, of Glen Allen, Virginia, road-tripped to South Carolina with her husband, the two talked to their 7-month-old son via Skype. "He got excited to hear our voices," says MacKenzie Baker.

I'm Afraid I'll Miss My Baby Too Much

Ditch the guilt and remember that having a few days all to yourself will probably make you a calmer, more relaxed parent in the long run—plus with pics, emails, and FaceTimes from home, you won't miss a thing. But if the thought of leaving your baby for a vacation has you feeling too anxious, try a modified version. "Book a hotel room in town, so if your child needs you you'll be available," says Dr. Walfish.

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