My Golden Rules:
Flexibility and having your baby on a schedule do go hand-in-hand. In fact, babies on a predictable routine are more adaptable to occasional variations. I have 3 guidelines for flexibility on a schedule:
- A well-rested baby will be more flexible- Babies who are on a routine and schedule will sleep better and therefore be well-rested. Well-rested babies can stand to have occasional disruptions to their schedule and bounce back after an "off" day.
- Prioritize Sleep- Prioritize sleep the majority of the time for a well-rested baby. If you can stick to your schedule and routine most days, you can be flexible when you need to be. Sleep is SO important for babies and children- it impacts growth, behavior, learning... it's IMPORTANT!
- Have a Plan- If you are following rules 1 & 2, you're prioritizing sleep to have a well-rested baby. When you need to be flexible, have a plan! Can you leave part of the day undisturbed? Can you keep baby's first nap as is? The first nap of the day is the most restorative, so I try to leave this one alone and plan from there. Have a plan and try to stick to it so you can minimize disruptions, have a happy baby, and enjoy your day.
Examples of Flexibility
Here are a few examples of how to be flexible on a schedule:
- Utilize baby carriers- This is a great option for the first few months! My rule of thumb with this is to have most naps occur in the crib and then when needed, have a nap in the front carrier while out and about. An example is: Going to dinner during the last nap of the day. Plan to get to the restaurant right before nap time, place baby in carrier, then voila you have 45 minutes to an hour to eat with the baby sleeping on you! I loved the boppy front carrier for when we were out in public and the solly wrap for at home!
- Car ride- Use the car ride to your destination as a nap opportunity, this way you do not waste wake time in the car and baby can socialize with your family and friends. Use a portable sound machine, this is my fav, for on the go naps! Be sure you are supervising baby while sleeping in a carseat, the position can restrict their airway and make it hard for baby to breathe. An example is: My grandparents live 45 minutes away. When we go to dinner at their house, we leave at the start of her nap so we arrive when she is waking up. We then have enough time to socialize, eat, and head home before bed. This does require your family to eat slightly earlier, but hopefully they understand you are prioritizing your baby's sleep and this is the plan if they want to see your baby.
- Micromanage your day- I reserve this for events or weddings, things I do not have control over. Essentially, you can mold your baby's day to fit into the event schedule by capping naps and following age appropriate wake windows. An example is: We had a retirement dinner for my mom that was not starting until 7 pm. Since it was in Florida, we did not have a babysitter and it was a surprise party, so we couldn't really coordinate much! We decided that our only option was to bring Harper to the dinner and pray for the best. Although we did not know how this would exactly play out, I did have a very specific plan in which I micromanaged the day and added an extra nap so we wouldn't have an overtired, grumpy baby during the dinner.
- Harper's normal day looked like:
- 7 AM wake
- 9:30-11 nap 1
- 1:30-3 nap 2
- 6:30 bedtime
- This micromanaged day looked like:
- 7 AM wake
- 9:30-10:15 nap 1 (shortened to 45 min)
- 1-1:45 nap 2 (shortened to 45 min)
- 5-6 nap 3 (added this nap)
- 10 PM bedtime after event
- Harper's normal day looked like:
- Take a walk- I loved to take the last nap of the day on a walk, this works well if baby is on 3 or more naps a day. As a newborn, we would use the Uppababy bassinet for walks and if Harper was still sleeping when we returned home, she could continue napping safely!
- Traveling- If you are traveling, I recommend investing in a SlumberPod. You cannot always control the sleeping environment when staying at a relative's home or a hotel and the SlumberPod will give your baby a completely dark, safe space to sleep. There is even a pocket for the monitor! We invested in one when Harper was ~2-3 months old and needed complete darkness to sleep at night, I am so glad we did!
The moral of this story is, babies on a routine are well-rested. Well-rested babies are more flexible. A well-rested baby on a routine will bounce back to normal after an occasional disruption.
Nichole @ Little Peach Sleep