Here at Just Chill Baby Sleep we are big fans of routine. Most of us, babies and adults, naturally feel more relaxed when we wake, eat meals and sleep at roughly the same times every day. Babies and young children especially can find a predictable, consistent order to their day to be relaxing and comforting. That said, we don’t want a routine to be stifling and stop us getting out and about to enjoy the day with our little ones.
It can feel a little overwhelming to think about planning time out and about around feeds and naps. This may be especially true for those of us who have had young children during the COVID-19 pandemic and haven’t had much opportunity to venture out of the house.
It’s really normal to feel worried about getting out and about, especially if your baby sleeps really well at home. Here are my tips for managing those classes/playdates/lunch dates/evenings!
Be prepared. Babies come with a lot of stuff, but don’t underestimate what you might need. A few changes of clothes, milk if formula feeding (maybe some extra in case you stay out longer than expected) and food if you little one is on solids. Better to be over-prepared than run out whilst on the go.
Allow for sleep. I’m a big fan of giving babies the opportunity to sleep when they are tired, so plan in a chance for sleep into your day if possible. You can aim to travel during nap times, or be on the move with a pram or sling. Setting off a little earlier than needed to allow your little one a chance for a longer nap before you arrive to where you are going can make the day flow more smoothly.
Go with the flow. If it’s not possible to plan in a nap on the go, or if your little one doesn’t nap well on the move, it is absolutely ok to let routine go out of the window once in a while! A day here or there will not ruin your little one’s sleep.
Plan regular classes at convenient times. If you are choosing a regular baby class or playdate, you might find it less stressful to go for something that is convenient. For example, you might find a class that fits between the morning and lunchtime nap works well, or later in the afternoon after they have napped can also be a great time to be out and about. You could plan in a nice long walk after a class so your baby can nap in the pram if you know you won’t make it home in time. Make it work for you.
Relax. If everything goes off track then try to relax – you can always adjust bedtime, or give an extra nap that day. You can even anticipate what may happen in advance and give a longer morning nap before you go out, for example, or split their afternoon nap in two.
Keep sleep safe. If your little one is napping on the go, don’t cover your pram/buggy with a blanket or muslin to make it dark. This has the effect of heating it up under there. Use a parasol or specifically designed breathable and air permeable shade for the buggy.
Plan for bedtime. If you are going somewhere and plan to be out for bedtime then you can create a mini bedtime routine wherever you are. Change them into their sleep suit and put them to bed in their pram or a travel cot. Keeping things as familiar as possible here helps. Remember their comforter (if they use one), use slept in bedding that smells familiar, take a portable black out blind & use white noise if that is what they are used to.
If your little one asks for an extra feed here or there – go with it! Sometimes babies ask to feed when they feel overwhelmed, need some comfort and want to feel reassured. If you are breastfeeding, remember you can feed anywhere you want to. It can feel daunting to feed for the first time in public, so perhaps take a friend with you, or if you feel self conscious there are breastfeeding covers you can buy (or a nice big muslin!). Sometimes just a ‘one top up, one top down’ can be really discreet (this is when you wear a vest under a normal top).
It is ok to have a day off from the routine – we all need to get out, socialise and have fun. If they don’t nap well one day, they won’t be broken – have a day off from the routine!
If you would like to learn more about sleep and have guidance on how you can approach achieving a predictable routine and well-rested night’s sleep then check out our online courses.
These are designed to teach you all about how your child sleeps and to provide practical suggestions for settling techniques and routines to work towards.