Your first time

It’s the hardest little baby step in learning to care for your baby … letting someone else care for her! 

Whether it happens seven days or seven months after birth, moms in particular often experience more separation anxiety than their babies during the first time apart. It’s completely natural. Moms — and dads, too — are biologically driven to be near, respond to and care for Baby. 

The good news? You don’t have to take this step until, well, you have to. Here are a few tips to help you navigate your first time away from your child.

1: Date to celebrate your New Normal. 

Not feeling like doing a date night out for two? A newer baby will likely sleep through a lunch outing or short movie. You can also light some candles in the living room and order in. Think of it as a dry run of enjoying an activity without your baby, without leaving your baby behind. 

2: Practice before your first day back. 

Going back to work? Take a trial separation period before the big day. If you’re breastfeeding, learn to pump before you have to do it in the break room, and reenter the workforce with confidence. 

3: Use friends/family for the first time. 

Sitters, nannies and childcare professionals are wonderful resources — usually highly trained and full of baby-soothing tricks. However, your first Target run or yoga class may run a little smoother for you if you hand your babe over to unconditionally loving arms. Grandma or a baby-experienced best friend are good bets. 

4: Wear nursing pads. 

Even if you’re bottle-feeding, a baby crying across a crowded store can trigger leakage. Thanks, hormones. 

5: Call, text, FaceTime. 

Engage in all of the above with your on-duty caregiver as much as your heart desires. Your husband, mom, best friend or sitter will get it. You love your baby and can only enjoy your newfound freedom if you have the knowledge that your baby is alive and well and happy — and still so dang cute. 

6: Enjoy it!

You’ll be nervous, maybe even be weepy. But do your best to find a little joy beneath the anxiety. Grab a cocoa with extra whipped cream, stop to hear the birds and feel the sun on your face. Parenting is hard. Give yourself a break. 

7: Prepare an exit plan. 

There’s no shame in leaving spinning class halfway through or ditching your sister’s birthday party before dessert. If you try, if you put on shoes, if you get out of the house and have five minutes of adult conversation — you will have succeeded. This is a first. It will get easier. 

8: Interview the caregiver.

Whether finally trying out the teenager from down the street, inviting a nanny into your home or vetting a licensed childcare center, you need to ask the tough questions! This is 100 percent for your own peace of mind and will help immensely when you finally brave your first goodbye: 

  • How many years of experience do you have? Teenagers should have at least two years’ experience sitting for older children before caring for a newborn, unless they have younger siblings. 
  • Have you worked with newborns before?
  • Are you infant and child CPR and 
  • First Aid certified?
  • What other classes and certifications have you taken?
  • What do you love about your job?
  • What is the hardest part about your job? 
  • What if … ? Consider three scenarios that are important to you.
  • What questions do you have for me? 

Jen Wittes is a marketing director, writer, certified postpartum doula and mom of two living in St. Paul.