Parents often tell me they feel like they are under house arrest while we work on improving their babies sleep, they worry this is how it will always be, and how will they ever get out and about again with their baby.
Having respect for your babies need to sleep, doesn’t mean always staying home, and as a mother of 3 I can tell you I understand your need to get out of the house, and those times when trips are not at the ideal times and really there is no ideal place for your baby to sleep.
Try to limit these times to 20% of the time, and the other 80% of the time naps are at the right time, and hopefully in the right place.
If you have an outing to fit in, or errands to run and it is your babies sleep time here are my top tips to ensure everyone survives and no one is a crying mess on the super market floor.
1. Split naps
Can you split your babies usual nap in half and have half in the car and then half later when you get home? This works for small errands or Doctors or Plunket appointments you can’t change. Your baby will probably finish their nap 1 hour after they had the first half of their nap. Be sure to limit the second half of the nap to protect your nap schedule.
2. On the go naps
This might be a nap in the car on the way to play group, or traveling down country. Try to plan your trip for the start of a nap, or even travel in the evening if this makes your life easy and your baby naps. Some clients even tell me they leave at 4/5am for a road trip to guarantee all children sleep for the majority of the trip.
3. Buggy naps
From a young age try to encourage your baby to sleep in their buggy as often as once a day. A buggy is a very portable porter cot – which can be laid flat and easily blacked out (sun cover or snooze shade), and can easily be rocked to help your baby go to sleep in a funny place. Walking is a great way to sneak in some exercise and knowing your baby will have a solid nap if you go for a walk removes the stress from one nap a day when your baby is young.
4. Porter cot naps
Also encourage your baby to sleep in their porter cot, do this regularly and from a young age, so your baby doesn’t panic when they suddenly have to sleep in a porter cot for a week over your summer holiday. Again you can buy cot canopy’s and snooze shades to black out your porter cot, or the phil n teds travel cot is very dark with a zip off lid! Use your porter cot at a friends house when you stay for dinner, so your baby still gets their evening sleep and you can enjoy yourself – set up one permanently at your in-laws if you visit frequently for dinners.
5. Front pack/back pack naps
Another viable option for on the go naps if you get your baby used to sleeping in this way – they will easily fall asleep for a cat nap while out and about in a front back or back pack. Lots of walking or jiggling or bum patting usually helps assist them off to sleep. Don’t expect much more than a cat nap – and this is where a split nap can help. Check out ergo baby carriers – these are my favourite.
Sticking to the 80:20 rule when it comes to naps and ensuring your baby can sleep in many different ways means when you need to be flexible because your children are having their first snow adventure, Mr 15 months will nap in the back pack, and his night sleep will not suffer as his body doesn’t notice the day of poor quality sleep as much as a baby who has 80 % of their naps on the go and in random places and times.
Summer is coming – get your baby used to napping in places other than their cot!