“We want to get our baby into a good routine but we don’t want to be a slave to our schedule!” As a sleep consultant, I hear this a lot. We know that most babies benefit from having a relatively reliable schedule, especially when it comes napping and bedtime, and that can make it feel like there’s no room to do anything else. But your schedule doesn’t have to be limiting! The last thing I want for my clients is to feel like they’re in “nap jail.”
Having a routine can help make the free hours even more enjoyable, and once your baby gets into a rhythm, it can actually feel pretty flexible. Which is a good thing to remember, since any schedule you set, will likely change as quickly as your baby. Here are a few tips for keeping to a schedule without feeling like you’re housebound 24/7.
Schedule Activities Between Naps
The number of naps your baby needs will depend on how old they are; try to schedule activities and play dates during the times you know your baby will be rested, awake, and happy. Younger infants (ages 0–12 weeks) who might take 4–5 naps per day, will sleep almost anywhere so take advantage of it and get out with your baby whenever and as often as you want or can!
Naps on the Go
Let your baby take a nap on the go! As long as your baby doesn’t rely on the motion of a car or stroller to fall asleep every time, naps on the go can be lifesaving for those of us who need to get out of the house, or those of us who also have a toddler (who also needs to get out of the house!). For those babies who need a little more quiet and less stimulation than the outside world allows for, cover up the car seat (taking care to ensure the angle of the seat is safe) or stroller and bring a portable white noise machine, like the Rohm.
This one’s a gamechanger: You don’t need to be home for every nap and bedtime. If you have plans to be at a friend’s house for dinner (and maybe a glass or two of wine!), try to mimic your baby’s typical sleep environment by setting up a portable crib and sound machine in a dark room, and walk your baby through your sleep routine the same way you would at home. If you’re traveling, no-brainer: use your Slumberpod!
Skip a Nap on Occasion
It won’t be the end of the world—family events, beach days, or special trips can sometimes mean a nap doesn’t happen at all. But if that’s the case, try to put your baby down for bed early. Since they will miss an entire block of sleep that day, putting your baby down for bed up to 45 minutes earlier than usual can help them catch up on some much-needed Zzzs.
RestorED Sleep Consulting
Natalie is a Certified Infant and Toddler Sleep Consultant and DONA trained Postpartum Doula. Her passion is working with families during the perinatal period – from pregnancy to birth and beyond. Natalie provides a very customized service to fit the needs of each family with whom she works, ensuring new and veteran parents feel understood, confident in their parenting and meeting their baby’s needs. Natalie’s extensive training and certifications include infant and toddler sleep, newborn care, postpartum recovery, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs), and emotional support. Natalie is also a mother to three little ones, so she knows and understands the often exhausting and emotional ride parenthood can be. While this is inevitable, sleep deprivation does not have to be for you and your children, and Natalie’s comforting and reassuring nature, combined with her expertise, will help your family get the rest you all need.