Anyone with kids knows that date night takes a new shape when you have a baby. If you’re a nursing mom, often you can’t go more than two hours away. If you have multiple children, the dynamic of finding the right babysitter to meet different age needs comes into play.
Getting Out With a Newborn
It’s a challenge no doubt, and one we’ve navigated intentionally as we’ve welcomed our second baby into the world. With the first, it was let’s just bring the car seat and let him sleep through most of our date. It worked great! But as parents of two, we’ve found that we can’t quite do this. If we leave with the baby, our toddler is seriously emotionally scarred crying and wondering why his family all left without him. Yikes, it’s been an adventure!
In all honesty, we’ve spent our first two months of life with our second either on family dates or enjoying a date night in together after the kids are asleep. Clearly, we’re not ones to be tied down for too long, and the need to get out and date is real!
We’ve done a few things that have set us up to be able to leaving a new baby with a babysitter. And as much as we prepare the baby, we’ve also learned there are a few key things parents can do to set their babysitter up for success, particularly with a small baby in the home.
Here are our tips and tricks to making your next date night happen and have success leaving a new baby with a babysitter.
Tips Leaving a New Baby with a Babysitter
- Choose the right sitter.
When it comes to babysitters, we’ve had several we love, but we know a few just aren’t equipped for a small baby. We’ll add them into the rotation when we have a solid-eating older baby, but for now, it’s just not the right time. When you have a very small baby you often need to hire older sitters, which may cost more money. But we’ve found a nanny with experience and a little more cash is worth it entirely so we can have the opportunity for date night.
- Time your plans around baby’s plans.
We love a fancy dinner and a theater date as much as the next couple, but when we have a small infant it just isn’t the season for us to go. We plan dates that can let us fit in dinner and an activity in a great cadence of when we can leave the baby. If I can feed him, and leave immediately after, we know we’ve set up the babysitter for success and started the night off right! We plan our dates around this timing.
Setting up the Babysitter for Success
- Leave a written schedule for the babysitter to follow
I consider myself a pretty easy-going parent, particularly with babysitters. However, it took me two kids to get down the sleep training schedule and baby cues. I like to let them know how his sleep cycles go, when they should feed him next, and what a bedtime routine looks like. Sample times can be so helpful and set them up for success to know how to best help and care for the baby.
- Keep a babysitter binder with information
Who can they call if they can’t reach you? Any allergies? Sometimes it’s easier to have it written down for later reference. I’ve yet to find a babysitter who doesn’t appreciate having the routine schedule, phone numbers, and helpful information readily available in one location.
- Bottle train your baby.
If you’re exclusively giving formula, this is obviously far easier. But many nursing moms don’t have the option to leave for the first six months to a year unless there’s some bottle training. Start by letting another family member offer a bottle when you aren’t around. Try this several times until baby is pretty comfortable eating from a bottle without you.
- Pump/prepare a bottle just before you leave.
There’s something about fresh milk baby can drink an hour or two after you leave that seems to comfort them and help them eat just fine. This buys you an extra couple hours. For us, it’s the difference between a quick two-hour date, and having a full date night with dinner and an activity.
Leaving a New Baby with a Babysitter: Emergency Plan
- Have emergency milk on hand.
One of my most embarrassing moments includes heading to a conference with a three-month-old. I shared a room and a nanny with a friend. We both pumped bottles to leave our babies one night. My baby was the fussy one and when we returned the nanny told us he drank both the bottles. I was mortified! I thanked my friend up and down for going through that effort to let my baby eat her baby’s emergency supply. After that, I vowed I’d keep a backup!
I know for many parents pumping enough for the date can be challenging enough. I also know that sometimes emergencies happen. The freeway shuts down. Your car gets a flat tire. You miss your subway and you’re home an hour later than planned. As much as I like to try to coordinate a date night with baby’s schedule, I know that even a nursing mom needs an emergency stash of food ready for baby. This even goes beyond date night. I firmly believe fed is best and if there’s ever an emergency of any kind with mom, it’s sure a great thing to be prepared and keep baby on their routine!
That’s the reason why even though I’m breastfeeding, I always keep formula on hand.
I promise it’s possible to leave the baby and to get that much-needed couple time again. And however you feed your baby and whatever timing is right for you I know you’ll figure it out and get out dating again soon!
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