How to Leave Your Baby With a Sitter for the First Time

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It’s Valentine’s Day, and we’re willing to bet more than a few new moms will be heading out for an evening sans baby for the very first time. If you’re one of them—and you’re more freaked out than fired up—here’s how to cope.

First, know your nerves are totally justified. “Leaving an infant for the first time is the greatest concern for any mother,” says Dr. Kimberly Williams, Psy.D., a pediatric neuropsychologist in Great Neck, New York. “Many moms often feel like part of their own body is missing the first time they leave their baby.”

That’s why prepping ahead of time is key to helping you enjoy grown-up time without too much anxiety, Williams says.

It’s your first date night as a parent. Don’t freak out—you can handle it! Here’s how to do it, one worry at a time.

You worry: Will the babysitter do a good job?

How to deal: If you’re not leaving your baby with a family member or close friend, its totally normal to be picky on your search for a sitter. Find out about her experience and check her references. Once you hire her, you can even share with her a list of your concerns, so you know your worries are supported and understood, Williams says. And if you want to call to check in every hour while you’re out, do it!

You worry: My baby will miss me too much.

How to deal: Most babies don’t start to experience separation anxiety until at least 10 months, so chances are your little one will have an easier time dealing with your absence than you. Not convinced? Have the sitter come over for a 45-minute practice run to see how your baby fares. (While she’s there, go get a manicure or a blow-out for your date!)

You worry: The sitter won’t understand my baby the way that I do.

How to deal: It’s true that no one will have as deep a bond with your baby as you. But that doesn’t mean other people can’t love and care for him! Before heading out (or before your practice run), take the time to show your sitter about your baby’s routines (like feeding preferences and bedtime prep), his favorite toys, and other important information. Over time, your sitter will come to learn all about your baby’s personality—guaranteed.

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