Q. My husband and I argue over whether to let my mother-in-law or anyone else take care of our 10-month-old son for a weekend. I'm just not ready; I feel that a child should be with his parents for the first year. He has never been without me. Is it too early to let him go?
There is no right or wrong answer about the appropriate age to leave your child with other caregivers for a period of time. Ask yourself a few questions before you plan a trip:
Is he an outgoing, communicative baby or is he more shy about his needs? For example, does he let you know he is hungry loud and clear or does he wait for you to remember? If he's on the shy side, your departure might be more distressing for him than it would be for a more vocal, easygoing baby. This doesn't mean you can't leave him, just be aware (and let your care-giver know) that he might have a hard time with your absence.
If you do go, don't be surprised if you don't get the warmest welcome when you return. Under the best circumstances, babies and toddlers can be a little aloof when their parents return after a long separation. Don't take this coyness the wrong way -- it's just a part of how your son might have coped with your absence.
Anita Sethi, Ph.D., is a research scientist at The Child and Family Policy Center at New York University. She has two sons.