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You love your baby to bits of course, but a time will come when you feel more than ready to leave her with someone else for a few hours.

You don't want to go to the hairdresser, visit the library, or attend that birthday party with your baby in tow. But when will your baby be ready?  

Mother-child bonding begins in the womb. As a fetus grows and develops, he becomes able to hear sounds from the outside world. By the time he's born, he can recognize mom's voice as well as the voice of dad and some other people you see very frequently. Mom's voice will still be the number one in baby's life along with your smell and very soon your face, it brings familiarity and comfort.

Baby will know he's home and safe. In the early weeks, a newborn still does not grasp the idea that an object that is not right in front of him still exists, however. If you are gone, the baby might be very distressed unless she's with another carer that she has bonded to. Beside that, newborns don't stay newborns for very long.

First-time moms may feel exhausted and welcome a break from their little one, but before they know it they'll be wondering where their little baby went as they're practicing their time-out skills on a tantruming toddler. I say all of this to encourage you not to leave your little one with someone else before you are ready and you think your baby is ready. But ultimately, you can leave your baby alone for a few hours quite soon. If you are breastfeeding, you'll have to wait until your baby can generally go without milk for a few hours until you leave her with someone else, but otherwise you're good to go when you feel ready.

How to handle the separation

If your baby is small, kissing and hugging him and telling him you will be back soon as you leave him with dad, your mom, or a close friend or relative is really the only way. The first time you go away, go somewhere close to test how your baby react. You could have a coffee down the road, for instance, so you can come back if any real trouble occurs.

You can then gradually lengthen the time you spend away from your baby. If your "baby" is already a young toddler, you might actually have a harder time because they might suffer from separation anxiety. I remember my toddler hanging on to me in a very dramatic way, and crying his eyes out, as I left him with his aunt. "Don't go aawaaaaay moooooommmmyyyyy!"

Well, saying goodbye to your toddler elaborately and giving long explanations about where you are going turns out not to work. Saying that you are going away and will be back in (fill in the gap 30 minutes, two hours, whatever) causes much less drama. In some cases, you may actually have to sneak out without saying goodbye. Said aunt would always go to "feed the birds" on the balcony with my son, and when they got back indoors I'd be gone.

He didn't mind me being gone; it was the goodbye ceremony itself he couldn't handle. So you may want to experiment a bit. In general, your toddler or baby will feel better if you feel OK about leaving her so no guilt, please. Enjoy whatever it is you are doing and leave your baby or toddler without a care in the world. That is, as long as you have provided for all her needs and have left her in the care of someone you trust with your child's life.

For your peace of mind and to promote safety, never leave your young child in the care of a teenage babysitter, a man (not politically correct, no, but reality is not PC and sexual abuse is almost always perpetrated by men), or an elderly relative who really can't handle babysitting any more. In a way, your partner is the best bet for that first experience of you leaving your baby. I realize that you probably want to spend that away time with your partner though, eating out or at the movies, so someone else you have complete trust in works very well too. You may also like to read: How to choose a babysitter.

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