OK, it’s a big deal the first time you leave your baby for an entire night, but if you’re prepared in advance you’ll all be able to enjoy yourselves
Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion with your partner or going away for work, of course you’ll feel emotional leaving your little one. But just think, an entire night of sleep without interruption! You’ll feel so much better for it. It can be fun for your baby, too, and help them get used to other people caring for them.
Who will you leave baby with?
Choosing a carer your baby already knows is ideal – a grandparent, aunt or close friend, for example. If you don’t have them near and have to use a new sitter, do a few test runs before an overnighter. If they come and babysit for a few hours, it will give your baby a chance to get to know them. It’s not always possible, but try to get the sitter to come to your home so your baby is left in familiar surroundings. If not, pack lots of your little one’s favourite toys and bedding for comfort.
Your baby will settle better, whether at home or away, if the carer sticks to your bedtime routine. You may feel happier – and it will probably be easier for the carer – if you write your normal timings down for them. Tell them what your baby likes at bedtime, including little ritual games or songs you may do together that will help them settle. Let them know about your morning routine, too. Don’t worry that your sitter will think you’re being overprotective and fussy. This is your precious baby, and you’re entitled to make a bit of a fuss the first time you leave them overnight.
Favourite toys and games
Take some favourite toys and games for the carer to play with your baby, to help make the experience fun and memorable.
When you leave your baby
You’ll probably be feeling a bit weepy and stressed, but try not to show it to your baby. Give them a hug and lots of smiles to show them you’re happy. Have a laugh with the carer, so you leave your baby in a warm environment they’ll feel secure in.
Baby sleepover checklist
• Sleep essentials – their favourite blankets and covers will make them feel at home.
• Pack the travel cot and do a run-through with the carer so they know how to put it up. Alternatively, get it ready for them.
• PJs, their favourite teddy or comfort blanky to hold, and clothes.
• Toiletries: enough nappies, wipes, etc.
• Music – leave some favourite bedtime music, which may help baby settle.
• Feeds – for night-time and morning. Take their normal bottles, bowl, spoon and bib to help make things familiar.
• Night light – a plug-in light is a good idea.
• Baby monitor.
Enjoy your night off!
By Julia Shaw