Updated: Aug 5, 2019
I stayed inside for the first months of my first baby's life. And for the rest of that first year I was GLUED to my house. I would not go to events if they were during nap time, I wouldn't go to play dates for longer than my boy's waketime at any cost... and most weekends we stayed inside. It was great for my boy's sleep hygiene and we slept REALLY well at night, only waking up for feeds mostly.... but it wasn't a healthy relationship with his nap schedule for ME: As SOON as it was close to his naptime, I would FREAK out. My anxiety would start to boil inside of me and I could not think of ANYTHING but getting him to sleep, in his crib, in his quiet, dark, white-noised room because that is what is BEST. Now with my second boy ... I quickly realized couldn't stay inside all day. I couldn't keep my energetic toddler inside, or skip his soccer practice, or cancel all his playdates... I just couldn't! So I realized I had to let go and figure out a way to get my baby to nap outside of the house. Luckily by this point I had tools for outside napping, and so I used them! So, here are my top 5 tips to let go of 'I HAVE TO STAY INSIDE FOR HIS NAPS' and change it to 'it is ideal if baby takes his naps in his crib, but it is ok if we help him sleep elsewhere':
1- Baby Wear It's not for every baby, but a lot of babies LOVE it and fall asleep as soon as they're cuddled up against you (or once you walk around and tap them for a few minutes). Especially newborns! My favorites are the baby ktaan, any ring sling that is comfortable, and the ergo baby for babies 4mo+.
2- Make Stroller a Crib Environment
If baby loves to sleep in their carseat as newborns, leave them in there (supervised) wherever you go! Never, ever, leave them in their carseat sleeping out of sight though! If they are older and you have a crib that lays down, you can lay them there with a portable white noise machine like this one, put a muslin or a heavier blanket over the stroller, and push them around as much as needed for them to fall asleep. Definitely make sure it's not too hot for this, though!
3- Be very aware of Baby's Waketimes
If your baby is 8 month's old for example, you probably have a pretty set nap schedule, having them nap every 2 to 4 hours. Be aware of it if you're going outside. If they usually nap at 10am, then wherever you are, start trying to find a way to get them some sleep around that time.
4- Use the Sleep Props
When you're home and you're providing consistency, I definitely advice you stay away from nursing to sleep, or rocking to sleep, etc... but when you're at a birthday party/church/airplane... USE the breast/arms/bottle/etc... It is hard for baby to sleep in a new environment, so help them out, and don't worry: a well slept-trained baby will go right back to falling asleep on their own when they're back home.
5- Drive a Little Out of the Way
Driving when you're tired is DANGEROUS, never, ever drive in the middle of the night as a last attempt to get baby to sleep... but if your destination is more than 15-20 minutes away, plan it around nap time, and then drive a little longer to give baby a short nap on the way!
BONUS- DO Respect Their Need for Home Naps
Having all these tools will help, but what helps most is trying to take as many naps at home AS possible. I want you to feel like you CAN make exceptions, but make it just that: exceptions. Babies are little humans that can't stand up for themselves, and babies NEED good sleep. So whenever possible, do err on the side of making sure they're well rested. Trust me well rested babies are in better moods anyway ;)
Do these tips help? Do you need more help? Send me a message and we can set up a quick consultation!