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Freedom & Flexibility around naps

So you've worked really hard on your little one's sleep. They have a great routine and are relatively predictable with when they need to be tucked up in bed and snoozing. Which is great.... but what about life? What about getting out and about with your partner, with your other kids? How do we manage life and all it's adventures when our little people need their naps?


Ahhhhh the juggle is real. I totally feel you. You’ve likely tried it once and it was an epic fail and you decided it just wasn’t worth the faff about. But don’t be disheartened or overwhelmed; naps on the go and the freedom to continue with your outings can co-exist! But how?

If your little one is still on 2-3 naps (so likely between 4-15 months old) you could have either/both the first and third nap on the go. That means in the pram, car or carrier. Aim to have the midday sleep (the longest and most restorative snooze) back at home in their own bed and you can catch a break too; have a hot cuppa, some lunch and put your feet up before heading back out mid arvo.


If you can't be at home (or choose not to) then try and be organised and find out where you will be over their lunch nap. Are you visiting friends or family? Can you set up a portacot in a dark, warm room at your location? Is there somewhere suitable you could park the buggy up in the shade while they napped?

If your babe is on 1-2 naps (aged 7 months- 3yrs) you could try a shorter morning nap on the way out and about and then set up a portacot at your destination (e.g. heading to a friends for BBQ lunch) or take your buggy and try an assisted nap and park them up once they are in a deep sleep (20-30min into their nap). If they are only having one nap, try time your drive to your activity/destination around their usual sleep time so they can have this enroute.


Be sure to take their usual sleep associations; sleeping bag, white noise, portable black out blinds/sunshade for pram) to keep the sleep environment continuity.

Leave on foot/in the car when your little one is due their sleep. Be prepared that they might have less sleep then they usually do at home, that’s okay! We need to be flexible and adapt the day. If they have a shorter nap they might not last as long until the next sleep period/bedtime so adapt your day by offering another snooze or bedtime slightly earlier.


Maybe you're keen to enrol your little love into an activity during the day but you are not sure how to manage the excursion. Understanding their biological sleep windows and ideal nap times will help you to organise activities outside of these. For example if your little one is 6m old and you're choosing between a 10:30am or 1pm swimming lesson I'd recommend the 10:30am one as it falls after their morning nap and before their lunchtime one.


If you live rurally or some distance from an activity you can be flexible and offer the nap on the way to your event e.g. baby can have first nap on the way to their swimming lesson, then offer a feed between arriving and getting into the pool for their lesson.



So, what about going out in the evenings?


You love to be social and often that means missing out on dinner dates or turning up late once the babysitter has arrived and the kids are fast asleep. You've talked about the idea of taking the kids with you but just don't know how to logistically manage it. What happens if they fall asleep on the way home from the restaurant? What if they are in bed an hour past their bedtime, will that totally wipe them out for the next 3 days?


My words of wisdom - give it a go! If your little one still naps and you want to head out as a family in the evening try the following:


  • Offer their nap slightly later and let them sleep slightly longer. This is because you know that bedtime is likely to be later than it normally is

  • Organise the group dinner so it's early, say 5pm so you aren't having to entertain hungry children while you try and socialise

  • Pre order/look at the menu so you know what to order as soon as you sit down, or better yet the meals are waiting for the kids

  • Take something to entertain the kids. Small colouring books and puzzles etc are great to keep the kids engaged

  • Offer their pre-bedtime milk before leaving and driving home, incase they fall asleep enroute.

  • Pack their pj's, comforters and sleep sacks (if using one) and get them changed before you leave your venue and get into the car.

  • If they fall asleep in the car on the way home you can transfer them into bed upon arrival back home. If you only live around the corner then you could continue on with your usual bedtime routine e.g. brush teeth, stories, songs and into bed.

  • If your baby wakes upon transitioning offer a small feed to re-settle them and then pop them into their own bassinet/cot and settle to sleep.



Having a contingency plan and feeling empowered to support your little one, yet still have the flexibility to say "YES" to all those social invites is so important, for the whole family. If all else fails during your day out, go with the flow and pop them into bed earlier at bedtime! It’s only a one off, they can have a catch up sleep day the following day.


If you need any additional information or support please feel free to contact me at amy@littledreamers.co.nz to book in a FREE 15 minute phone consultation to talk about what is happening for your little one and how we can help.

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