Saying Goodbye to Your Baby before You Leave the House

Saying Goodbye to Your Baby before You Leave the House
María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

When you leave the house without saying goodbye, your child feels disconcerted. He can’t understand why his mom was just there, and now she’s magically disappeared. This makes your child feel bewildered.

He begins to call out for mom, not knowing if she’s coming back. Nor does he understand how long mommy will be gone, or why she left without saying goodbye.

When our children are younger, sometime it just seems easier to escape when they’re not looking. We wait until they’re distracted, open the door, and then slip away in the blink of an eye.

Our reasoning behind this strategy is to keep our children from seeing us go and crying. Sometimes we even ask a family member to entertain our babies so our leaving goes unnoticed. However, we are committing a huge mistake. The best thing we can do is to say goodbye to our children before we leave.

It is difficult for small children to be away from their parents during the first few years of their lives. Later on, they start to understand that your leaving is only temporary. Soon you will back for more kisses and snuggles.

Saying goodbye is beyond necessary

Most likely, your baby will not like the idea of you leaving. And more likely than not, he will cry. But this reaction isn’t just normal, it’s healthy. Your child is simply showing her feelings.

Don’t crumble when your child starts to cry! Or at least try not to. Your strategy should be to try different tactics of saying goodbye until you find one that works. You need to find the way to communicate to your baby that, though you are leaving, you’ll be back soon.

When you establish a goodbye routine with your little one, she’ll begin to understand that your leaving is only temporary. This will keep her from becoming anxious and crying while you are gone. Saying goodbye is important in order to help your baby better assimilate the separation process.

Generally, there are children who cry desperately when they are separated from their mothers. If your child cries every time you leave him under someone else’s care, you may feel guilty. You might even decide not to leave your child after all. However, this will only make things worse.

It’s important to find a way to help your baby get used to being away from you. This is a gradual process and may take some patience. But believe it or not, saying goodbye to your baby may even become easier for you as well. You will finally be able to leave the house knowing that you haven’t had to trick your child.

Saying goodbye is a routine

learn to say goodbye to your baby when you leave the house

Try not to get upset when you see your child “suffer.” Understand that his crying is a normal part of this stage of development. It’s something that most babies go through.

Don’t lose hope; things won’t always be this way. One day, all of the sudden, your child will come out of her shell and enjoy meeting new people. Your goal should be to allow this to happen naturally, without it being traumatic for your little one.

It’s also a good idea to allow your child to spend a little while with other people every day. This could be her grandparents, aunts and uncles, or close friends.
At first, you should stick around as well, so as not to create a drastic change. But when your little one’s comfortable and enjoys being in other’s company, it will be easier for you to leave. She will remember the good times she had with them and be more willing to let you go.
Your baby shouldn’t just get used to being with others, but also to being alone. In order for that to happen, the next step is for you to stay out of sight.
Leave your child on the floor or in his crib with some toys. Walk out of the room just for an instant. Of course, you’ll want to stay nearby in case he cries or something happens. Your child might cry at first. but when he sees his toys, you’ll be amazed at how quickly he begins to play.

Make sure to say goodbye with a smile on your face. Don’t let your child see that you are upset or worried because of his crying. 

Furthermore, don’t turn back! Even if you hear your child crying, leave. Don’t drag the goodbye out. Trust that you have left your little one in good hands and nothing is going to happen to him.

Try to set limits and to help your child understand that there are times when you need to go away. For example, when you go to the bathroom or when you are cooking.

No matter what, say goodbye!

mom saying goodbye to her baby with a kiss on the cheek

First and foremost, you should never sneak away or lie to your child saying you’ll be right back if that’s not the case. This will only lead your child to distrust you and feel constantly anxious.

Many mothers have the habit of sneaking out of the home while their children are distracted. This keeps you from having to see you child suffer when you leave. But it is by no means a helpful attitude for your baby.

You are much better off explaining to your baby that mommy needs to go to work, class, etc. No matter how small your son or daughter is, you need to say goodbye before you leave.

If you do not, you are only creating a confusing situation for your baby. Babies do not have the mental capacity to understand that you are somewhere else when they don’t see you.

When you leave, you disappear, and they might even think you cease to exist. Of course, this is devastating. You need to help them understand that your absence is temporary, and that you are coming back.

A good game to play that will help them with this process is to play peek-a-boo. Cover yourself up and say, “where’s mommy?” This simple exercise will help to symbolize your absence.

Leaving without saying goodbye also creates anxiety for your baby because she never knows when you might disappear. Being consistent in your goodbyes will keep her from living in constant fear, always needing to have you within arm’s reach.

Our babies don’t understand many of the things we say to them, but they do understand our intention. Therefore, it’s important to choose a calm tone when explaining why you have to leave and that you’ll be back.

This will help your little ones feel at peace when you have to go. Little by little, your child will come to understand, and separation will be much less traumatic.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Guerra, V. (2007). Papel de la triadificación-terceridad en el proceso de separación durante el primer año de vida. Revista de la APPIA16.
  • Kimelman, M., & González, L. (2013). Psicopatología del bebé. Psiquiatría del Niño y del Adolescente2, 337-432.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.