sleeping away

Sleeping Away from Home Without You

21 March 2023
Posted by: Chelsea

There may be times when, for various reasons, you need to be away from home and therefore unable to be with your baby overnight and when they’re put down to sleep.

For babies and pre-school-age children, sleeping away from home without you can be an issue – at least until they have done so a few times and no longer fear it.

What does ‘sleeping away from home without you’ mean?

Two such situations may be challenging for babies and toddlers:

  • sleeping away from their normal physical environment where their primary care provider is absent but another familiar and comforting face is also present (e.g., an older sibling);
  • doing the same but where their primary care provider is absent and they are being looked after by someone they’re not very familiar with.

The second situation is probably likely to be more stressful for a baby or toddler.

Familiarity is key

To sleep well, babies need the comfort of the familiar. The absence of Mum, Dad and possibly siblings, plus their normal surroundings, may cause them some stress particularly when they’re settling for the night or during feeds or meals etc.

If at all possible, it would be highly desirable to give your baby or toddler at least some advance exposure to the person you’re going to entrust with their care overnight. Advance exposure means spending time with them and the other person, preferably in a situation where you allow your child to be fed and played with by the other person in your presence.

Ideally, that familiarisation should conclude with you taking your child home with you and if it can be repeated several times before finally leaving your child with them overnight, it may help to reduce your baby’s stress levels when the day arrives.

Familiar things

Your child will benefit from having some of their possessions and toys around them when they’re staying over somewhere. It might also help if they have something of yours, such as a jumper or somesuch.

The feel and smell of these things may help them to settle and feel more relaxed overnight.

Keep to routines

One of the bigger stress factors for babies and younger children is when their routines change. That includes things such as sudden changes to meal times, what and how they’re fed, what time they’re put down, what happens to stories and songs etc.

It is very important that their routine is fully communicated to the designated care provider and that they’re asked to comply as far as is realistically possible.


For older toddler children, a reassuring phone call can work wonders while you’re away although that has to be balanced against the risks of distressing them because it reminds them that you’re not with them.

This is a difficult decision and will need to be made based on your knowledge of your child.


Assuming your child is old enough to understand, do try and explain to them why they’ll be sleeping away from you and describe it as a fun experience.

Make sure that they know you’ll be back.

After the first instance or two, most children quickly adapt and this can become routine for them on those occasions when you find it necessary to be away.

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