New Mama Deck - How to work around a baby's nap schedule

How to Work Around a Baby's Nap Schedule

When I had a newborn baby, the one thing that I had to learn was how to work around her nap schedule.

As soon as I put her down for a nap, it was like "Beat the Clock" to get all the competing demands for my time accomplished before she woke up.

The first year of your new baby’s life revolves around very few things other than eating, playing, and (hopefully) lots of sleeping. Of course the sleeping through the night stage is the end goal for all new parents. However, napping during the day can be just as important in creating a calm and happy environment for baby and mom. If your baby does indeed nap, it can sometimes leave you feeling house-bound in order to preserve the nap time schedule. I used to feel a little trapped at home when I had errands to run and my baby fell asleep just before I was ready to leave. 

Here are a few tips to help preserve a nap routine, and also allow you to get out of the house.

Schedule activities around the one "good" nap.

Typically a consistently good napper will have at least one nap that is better than the other. For example, my daughter slept for a longer and more sound stretch in the morning than the afternoon. If this is the case, schedule your activities around the one “good” nap. Stay home so your baby can sleep in his or her own bed. The time to venture out is in the afternoon when you can possibly sacrifice the nap that usually isn’t as good. This will ensure your baby gets at least one good solid stretch of sleep during the day. It will give you much needed time to get things done that you otherwise are unable to do while he or she is awake.

Stay close to home.

Plan outings closer to home. That way, if your baby starts getting fussy, you can make it home rather quickly and before he or she falls asleep in the car. Ask just about any veteran mom and she’ll tell you that the car to crib transition doesn’t always go smoothly. In fact, it rarely does. Keep an interesting toy or book with your son or daughter to keep them awake on the short ride home. It will pay off in the end and you'll get a little extra time to yourself while they're taking their second nap of the day.

Playing music helps baby sleep in the car.

If the plan is to have your baby sleep in the car during nap time because of timing issues, plan to play music softly in the car as to not disturb your baby too much. And, equally important, always keep a book or magazine with you in case you arrive at your destination and your little one is still sleeping. Sometimes an extra 15-20 minutes added on to a baby's nap makes all the difference in their mood. It can be worth it to sit back and relax a bit while you wait for your baby to wake up. Maybe you can catch a few winks, too, so that you're both rested.

Naps on the go.

If visiting a friend or family member for the day, plan ahead. Instead of rushing through your visit. One idea is to bring a portable crib with you. That way, you can set up a nursery away from home for your baby, complete with his or her favorite blanket, pacifier and most cherished book. Keep your nap routine consistent and try to settle baby down for a nap on-the-go so that you don’t have to cut your visit short. While this doesn’t always work, it’s at least worth a try. The added bonus is it gets your baby used to sleeping in other environments, which is especially great if you plan to travel with with your newborn.

Consistency is key.

Consistency is key in any sleep routine, but the occasional alteration will not veer you completely off course. This is especially true during the first 3-4 months. During this time newborns usually haven’t quite settled into a consistent routine, so this is the time to be a bit more flexible with your outings and straying from the routine that you're establishing. Once your baby is 4-6 months old though, a solid nap routine usually starts to settle in. Then you’ll want to stay on course more than veer off it. Skipping the routine 2-3 times a week is perfectly okay, especially if it helps mom feel better.

Make minor adjustments as your baby gets a little older.

Remember that a sleep routine and schedule only works if it works for the entire family. If your baby’s routine is preserved at all costs, at the expense of mom being able to occasionally get important errands done, then it’s not working. Making a few minor adjustments and not being afraid to alter them every once in a while will ensure a happy, well-rested baby, and a happy, well-rested mom.

New Mama Deck offers great tips for getting mom through the first year of baby's life.

The first year of your baby's life is hectic. For this reason, we offer the New Mama Deck. The New Mama Deck is a pack of 52 cards that makes things easier for mom. It offers tips and tricks for getting a baby situated and a new mama feeling good about herself. It encourages her to reach out to others if she's feeling overwhelmed by her new role as mother, and to understand that her wellbeing is also part of the equation of motherhood. Motherhood is not a time of perfectionism. In fact, it's a time to be realistic and to remember that two people are born the day a baby comes into this world. A baby and the mother.

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