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A formula-fed baby can be left as soon as you feel comfortable leaving him. But if you're breastfeeding, you don't want to be away from your baby until nursing is going smoothly – generally around three to four weeks. After that, you can use a breast pump to express milk, and anyone you trust enough to care for your baby can give him a bottle.
You may want to give your baby his first bottle a couple weeks before leaving him with a sitter so he has time to get used to it. If he refuses to take a bottle, ask a family member or friend to try while you wait in another room. Many breastfed babies are more likely to accept a bottle from someone else.
Leaving your baby for the first time may be harder for you than for your infant. But it's important to take time for yourself, especially during these hectic first months.
If you can't bear the thought of being away from your baby, consider having a friend or sitter care for him in your home while you nap in another room, take a long, hot shower, or call a friend. If your home is too small to give you any privacy, or if you think you'll feel compelled to rush to your baby when you hear him cry, at least get out for a short walk or a quick cup of coffee at a nearby cafe.