If I want to return to work, when is the best time?

It depends on several things:

  • The age of the baby. Attachment behavior begins at about six months, peaks at around 9m -12m and continues until 30-36 months, with the experience of separation anxiety being most acute between 12 and 24 months. This is the period when attachment feelings are strongest and separations most stressful for the child.
  • The amount of time away from the baby. The younger the child is, the less easily he copes with separations of more than a few hours. 
  • Who will take over from the mother? The best solution is to leave the baby with someone to whom he is already attached, for example father or grandparent.  If there is no such figure then it would be desirable to build attachments to the likely carer before leaving the baby alone with them.
  • The temperament of the child. Babies differ temperamentally and will react differently to new circumstances and people. Some babies dislike new situations and will take time to settle and adjust to new circumstances. Babies also differ in their sociability and may take time to accept new people. If your baby doesn’t settle then it may be best to postpone the return to work if at all.