We’re parents too. We sure know that leaving baby overnight for the first time can be a tough–very tough–decision. But if you’ve got family or close friends near by and willing, it can be an opportunity to catch up on sleep (the gift that keeps on giving when you’re a new parent), to spend some much-needed time with your partner, or take advantage of an important business trip. And don’t forget, it also gives some loving family members the chance to bond with the baby too.
Of course, it all comes down to if and when you feel comfortable leaving baby for that first overnight. But if you think you’re ready (we believe in you!) then here are our best tips as BTDT parents to help you make sure everything is set, so that you can feel as relaxed and confident as possible. Relatively speaking.
1. Find a great travel crib
Unless Grandma or your sister already has a great crib or a portable version, you definitely want one. Take a look at some of the ones we’ve recommended in the past and see what’s right for you, like the Journey Bee portable travel crib, Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light, the GoCrib, and most recently, the Lotus Everywhere Crib (shown here and at top) which even folds up into a backpack! They all have very different features at very different price points, so there’s definitely one that’s right for your needs.
2. Pack enough food or breast milk or formula. Actually, pack more than enough.
For us, the biggest fear the first time we left our children with relatives was whether they’d eat under the new circumstances. We’re proud to report that all worked out, and we’ve got lots of thriving big kids to show for it today. One big tip is however and whatever you feed your baby, make sure you’ve leaving her with plenty. Especially if it’s not something the caregivers can readily purchase at a store.
And of course, this isn’t the time to start your baby on solids or switch from breast milk to formula. Make sure your methods are tried and true, and in this case, plentiful.
3. Don’t forget the toys.
You might be surprised how easy it is to forget toys, mostly because your house is covered in them and you just sort of assume that’s how it is for everyone. Bring a few favorites and perhaps add one or two new ones to the mix. The Innobaby massaging teethers are a baby favorite of ours, and easy to clean too.
4. Got plenty of diapers, wipes, and clothes? Probably not.
As with any outing, you always want to pack enough diapers and wipes to last through any diaper emergencies. That includes accidentally ripping them by the way. (We can’t tell you how many times that has happened to us.) As for clothes, it’s important to keep in mind that grandparents and doting aunts and uncles tend to be major photo takers–or at least ours are–so you’ll want cute, comfy clothes that you know will show up on Facebook pages and baby books later on.
We like to pack baby’s clothes by outfit, rolling the pieces you tend to match together. It makes it easier for caregivers to figure out what to put them in, and keeps the striped tops away from the plaid shorts away from the polka dot socks. Or better yet, pack everything to mix and match.
Check out babyGap’s new Wanderlust baby collection that’s full of simple, stylish pieces made for that very thing. Clothes that all go together can be so helpful for stretching outfit options. One-piece dresses or rompers are a great help too. And the bold brights are fun for spring, including that hot Pantone 2014 color, Radiant Orchid, which we’re seeing everywhere these days.
Another hint for packing: Be nice and pack double what you’d expect to pack so that no one has to do laundry. Though knowing some grandparents, they will anyway, no matter how much you protest.
5. Provide a wet bag for dirty clothes. Whether it’s for the house or when everyone is out and about, a wet bag is always nice to remember. Because most folks who haven’t had kids around in awhile would never need a reason to have one on them. Not that a regular old recycled plastic grocery bag doesn’t work; but wet bags are made to contain spills (and worse) and keep them away from the clean stuff.
The Itzy Ritzy wet bags work well and are super easy to clean. Always a plus when they’re carrying around dirty clothes for awhile.
6. Give your caregivers the 411. But don’t overdo it.
If there’s something special your baby likes–a certain stuffed animal, a special board book–make sure to share that with your caretakers. And of course you won’t forget to share your baby’s eating and nap schedule. Think about the things you do that really help make your life easier as a parent and share them.
Think about whether there’s music the baby likes to fall asleep to. Or what song calms her down when she’s crying. What are the signs she’s getting hungry? Or sleepy? But don’t go too overboard. Especially if you’re leaving your baby with trusted relatives or friends, they may want to create their own routines and have their own special moments of discovery.
Another idea: instead of writing all the info on a piece of paper or even typing it in an email, which can be hard to refer to the throes of baby tantrums, pop it in a journal or something similar; we love these handpainted molekines. That way all the info is in one place.
7. Leave your pediatrician’s number.
If mostly to make yourself feel better.
8. Do a trial run first.
It really helps if your baby has been with the caregivers before, so if you can, have them at your house as a test run. Or, be there all together but let them do most of the work. Hopefully you’ll be pleasantly surprised that there are in fact other people who can get your baby to sleep at naptime. And if not? Well, it’s a good opportunity to make some gentle corrections.
You can also try shorter stints first, like a date night dinner, and work your way towards the whole overnight. If you’ve never left your baby alone for more than an hour or so, a whole overnight might be a big jump.
9. Enjoy yourself!
We know it can be really hard to leave your baby in the care of someone else, but do your best to enjoy that time. Don’t check in every four minutes. We like to assume that no news is good news. And remember, if it’s your parents (or your partner’s parents) that you’re entrusting your baby with, remind yourself that they somehow managed to raise you into adults. We hope that spending a single night or two with a baby means all the tricks will come back to them in no time.
Thanks to the wonderful folks at babyGap for sponsoring this year-long series and helping us celebrate the many joys of early parenthood. To see more of their new collection of baby clothes and gifts, check out our favorite babyGap picks in our Baby Shower Gift Guide.