Should I prepare the baby for my return to work?

Should I prepare the baby for my return to work?

When the time to return to work comes, fears and doubts begin to appear: Should I make a milk bank? How do I do it? How to manage with milk when I am not there? and… Should I prepare my baby to accept bottle?

Well, today we would like to talk about this little great concern. Do we have to prepare babies so that they are ready when mom returns to work? Well, the answer is no. But we are sure this is about to come, so today we are going to tell you why it is not necessary to “train” the baby before you go back to work.

The most frequent worries usually have to do with the idea of leaving everything under control, leaving instructions to the person who will take care of the baby and our wish for the baby to suffer as little as possible.

Planning and organising seems a good idea, but there is a basis misconception. If we begin to prepare the baby weeks before we return to work (denying him some feedings and offering them in a bottle or any other method, using the milk we have taken out to get him to accept the deferred milk) we are anticipating the suffering of both of us and on top of that, we will be using milk that we will probably need when we are working.

mum hugging her baby

I don’t understand anything. So, isn’t it better to prepare them?

Let’s see! I am going to put it to you with a comparison: imagine that you are enjoying a summer vacation, in a wonderful environment, with all expenses included, relaxed, having a great time… And you have three weeks left to go back to work. And of course, as the return to routine and work is not at all easy you are going to prepare for it. 

Every day, to get ready, you get up early and at 5 a.m. you take the car to go to the city, two hours to go and two hours on the way back. You get to your job, and you do a little work, a few hours, so as to prepare the mind for what is to come. When you finish you take the car again and return to your wonderful summer paradise. And once again the next morning… And so for three weeks, so that when the day comes to return to work you are well prepared. Is someone excited? Surely no one. And then, why prepare babies? So why do we (and or babies) need to get through a hard time in advance?

Right, but it’s not the same situation. If I don’t do it, my baby won’t know how to eat!

Let me tell you this is a very normal and common fear. Separation is going to be a hard time for everyone: first for the baby, then for the mother and finally for the caregiver. Facing this new situation requires time and patience. Bringing forward the moment when you are still together doesn’t seem too logical after all.

If you are at home with your baby, enjoy. Let him nurse as often as he wants, the hard moment of separation will come anyway.

And be sure he will know then how to eat when you are away. You will all find the way, no doubt.

But if the baby accepts milk in a bottle better, right?

First of all, let’s be clear, we are talking about bottle as this is the method chosen by most families. There are actually quite a few methods of supplementation that babies are more likely to accept.

If your baby takes the bottle before you go, you will probably feel better, but accepting it once doesn’t mean your baby will do it the following times.

It may happen that the first time the baby accepts the bottle out of curiosity. It is quite common for the first one to just come in, but in some cases babies are less willing to accept it once the they detect what we are intending to do.

Most babies have serious problems accepting a bottle nipple: it makes them gag, they don’t know how to express milk or they just cry desperately.

So the fact that they accept the bottle the first time doesn’t guarantee that they want it the next time, and if they don’t want it the first time you are going to suffer days and days before returning to work. Denying them breastfeeds and struggling to  end finally accepting the bottle.

And back to the beginning, what need is there to bring forward these difficult moments?

But my baby’s caregiver is very nervous.

It’s natural, it’s a challenging situation. Although we must remember that the main character is the baby. Explanations and attempts to plan the separation are of little use to him.

If the baby’s caregiver wants to do something to prepare the baby, what he or she can do is prepare himself or herself:

  • To observe the baby while he is with his mother and recognize hunger signs, to see when he is sleepy…
  • Watch You Tube videos on the different methods of supplementation and prepare the different options.
  • Read, read and read.

Like everything in life, every family and every baby is a world, and we really don’t know how they are going to react to such a big change. It will take a lot of patience, accompanying their cries with arms, rhymes, songs, walks and whatever works best for you. A good idea is to keep a piece of clothing used by the mother and leave it with the baby while the mother is away, to help him get through those hours without her.


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