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Your baby’s first sleepover. All you need to know.

Everybody needs time off. Especially sleep-deprived, run ragged new mums and dads. It can be scary enough handing your precious little one over to someone else for a few hours during the day. But a whole night – now that takes it to another level. We all know that worrier is just part of the parenting job description, but a sleepover throws up so many unknowns you’re bound to feel anxious!

Will your baby be OK? Will they be able to get to sleep in a different place? What if they wake up in the small hours and need you? What if they won’t drink their bottle? And is it fair on your mum/friend/dad… that they could be up and down all night? Will they know what it takes to settle your little one back down again?

So many questions! Here are some answers that will help that first sleepover be a great night out, not a nightmare. With a little planning and know how, you can make it the happy adventure you’d so like it to be!

Why should you do it?

It’s not selfish and terrible to want a night away from your baby. Time to yourself or with your partner, doing something grown up, is good for you both. It will refresh you and help build your baby’s resilience and independence. It also gives them and other family members or friends a chance to get to know each other better and to bond.

When’s the best time for the first sleep over?

It’s all about picking your moment! The best time for your baby’s first sleepover is during a run of good, quiet nights.

A general rule is between 4-9 months. Before 4 months, you’re still establishing a breastfeeding routine (if you are breastfeeding) and they’re still getting used to you. So a little young to spend a whole night away from you.

And look out for signs of sleep regression later on – even sound sleepers can suddenly go through a spell when they seem to slip backwards, waking up, fussing, crying, kicking up at bedtimes. It’s all perfectly normal, and you know it won’t last. So just sit it out and wait for it to blow over before you arrange that first night away.

How do I deal with separation anxiety?

If your baby only wants to be with you, all the time, don’t worry. Feeling anxious when you’re not around is part of your baby’s developing awareness of the world around them, and the people in it. Separation anxiety can come on any time after 6 months and usually fades away when they’re around 3 years old. Don’t feel guilty about walking away and leaving your little one. Their anxiety is a sign successful parenting, and how closely they’ve bonded with you!

You can prepare for longer periods apart by starting small – leaving them with someone they know well for a few minutes just to get them used to the idea that when you go away, there’s no need to worry, you will be back!

There are ways you can deal with it on the first big night. Talk to whoever’s going to be the carer. Warn them that this might happen. Make your goodbye swift and positive. Don’t let your anxiety show through as your baby will soon pick it up!

Taking their own travel cot and bedding can help them settle more easily. The AeroMoov Instant Travel Cot is especially light to transport and speedy to pop up and down.

And leave something familiar like an (unwashed) tee-shirt with Mum’s comforting scent to calm them down. (But make sure it’s not left in their cot while they’re asleep.)

Your separation anxiety? Now that’s’ another thing altogether. But after the first successful night, freedom won’t seem nearly as frightening!

What do I need to tell my lovely carers?

Well, if it’s your baby’s doting grandparents, they should know just what to expect. They’ve been through it all already with you, after all! They’ll need no warning about the midnight wakeups, the broken sleep, the silly o’clock starts to the day!

But it’s worth making a little list of your baby’s particular likes and dislikes, the times you usually do things, bedtime routines, feed instructions… Anything you can think of that will avoid that call or text message just as you hit your main course at the dinner party!

And of course, if your baby has any serious allergies, make sure your carer knows about them, and that you leave any emergency medications with them with clear instructions about how to use them.

How can I ensure a safe space away from home?

You’ve done all the right things to create a baby-proof environment chez vous. So before your baby spends a night away, check out that they’ll be as safe there as at home.

To give yourself complete peace of mind, it can be a good idea to set up you baby’s sleep space yourself. Make sure the bedroom is the right temperature and that it will be dark enough. Check that your baby will be sleeping in a cot or crib designed for overnight sleeping, not some improvised solution! Better still, take your own trusted travel cot. Like the AeroMoov Instant Travel Cot with its own AeroSleep mattress and cover designed to keep air circulating freely around your baby’s face. It also doubles up as a play space. Great if there are pets in the house!

And it may sound OTT but do make sure your overnight carers know all they need to know about SIDS and the latest guidelines for the safest sleeping position. Your parents may have brought you up, but they may not be fully up to date on the latest thinking.

What should I take?

  • Your own travel cot. It will feel familiar and help your baby relax. And it will help you relax, too, because you know you’ve left your little one in a safe sleeping environment.

  • Your baby’s comforter and sleeping bag. Any old blanket will not do!

  • Familiar food, something you know they’ll enjoy for dinner and breakfast. And their own bottle, cup, bowl, spoon… The more it all feels like a home from home, the happier they will be.

  • Don’t forget a change of clothes, pyjamas, diapers and wipes. Anything your baby might need that your overnight caregiver might not normally have lying around!

What if I’m breastfeeding?

It’s perfectly possible to spend a night apart, even if you’re breastfeeding. Prepare your baby in advance by occasionally offering them milk in a bottle, so they get used to that way of drinking. It’ll also give you an idea of how much they actually need. Send plenty of milk on the night – anxious babies may need extra to soothe them. And don’t forget to express milk while they’re away, just in case your body takes this little break as sign to stop producing. Pop it in the fridge for when they get home.

How can I make it easier for my baby?

Spending their first night away from home is going to feel very new and strange for your baby. So the more it can feel like just another day in the nursery, the less likely they are to feel and act anxious.

Share your baby’s sleep schedule, so everything happens at the usual time. And if you have a regular routine or any little tricks to send your baby to sleep quickly, share those two. Do they like a late night feed or a lullaby? Do you put them down when their drowsy or wait until they’re fast asleep? All these little things can make a big difference to your little one!

So now you’re ready to take that big scary step and spend a whole night away from your precious. Just remember, a bit of space between you is good for both of you. For their healthy development and independence, your happiness and mental health. And just think about that joyful reunion next day!

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