School’s back…how on earth do you keep your little one’s naps on track?!
For many of us, our older babies returned to school this week - cue the mumma tears!! Finding a routine that works well around your little one’s school drop off and pick up is hard enough, even more so if you have a younger babe who is still requiring naps though. So how do you manage to keep bub’s naps on track whilst still ensuring your older child’s school needs are also met? See my top tips below…
- Organise everyone the night before!
Pre-make lunches, pack school bags and have uniforms laid out for the morning. Have your nappy bag at the ready too. When you have two or more little ones to organise in the mornings, being prepared can make the whole experience less stressful when you’re rushing against the clock.
- Offer the first nap of the day at home before you are required to leave for the school drop off.
This may work for you if you have a younger babe on short awake times or if you have an early riser. If you are able to pop them down when they are due, you’ll be able to concentrate on getting your older child ready for their day, whilst also avoiding having an overtired bub being dragged along for the school run. On occasion, you may be required to gently wake your little one so as to be able to leave on time. In this case, I would open the door to their room and gently wake them by making some noise outside their door.
- Keep your little one awake on the way to school and aim to offer them a car/pram nap on the way home.
This may mean that you have to take a slightly longer route home to ensure your little one gets at least one sleep cycle for their nap, but often it’s worth it!
Something to note is that many infants don’t transfer well from their car/pram seat into their cot when they’re asleep. Often if they’ve slept for 10-15mins and then you try to transfer them, they’ll wake and feel well rested enough that they won’t resettle for further sleep – therefore, that nap will be over and done with and you’ll be moving into your next awake period! Instead, where possible, safely offer them a nap of around one sleep cycle (30-50mins) to ensure it is restorative.
- If you can manage to keep your little one wide awake in the car/pram for school drop off, offer them their nap once you get home.
Sometimes this will mean that you little one has had a touch longer awake time than they would usually have - that’s ok, it’s often unavoidable. Ensure you still give them an opportunity to settle themselves into sleep and whilst you would encourage them to link sleep cycles to extend their nap longer than a catnap, don’t be too upset if they don’t manage it.
- Here at The Gentle Sleep Specialist, we focus on naps 1 and 2 being the most important naps of the day.
If you find that your older child’s school routine means that nap 1 can’t be a solid nap for your younger babe, don’t sweat it. Focus on nap 2 being their good, solid nap for the day instead. Therefore, ideally offer nap 2 at home in their optimal sleep environment and with an appropriate amount of awake time prior to it.
- If your child is requiring 3 or more naps per day, use the car/pram to achieve the later nap/s if required.
We expect that naps 3 and 4 will be shorter naps (catnaps) and as they don’t stick around for too long anyway, it’s no big deal that they are. Therefore, it is perfectly fine if your child takes these later naps of the day in the car/pram before or after you have completed the school pick up. This might mean that you set off a little earlier for the pick up and allow your babe to sleep then, or you could take a longer route home and hear all about your older child’s day whilst bub sleeps!
In summary, there’s no doubt about it that efficiently completing the school run with a younger babe in tow can be a little tricky at times! Try not to get too upset if your baby’s naps are slightly ‘off’ for a period of time if they are influenced by the school run. Awake times are frequently lengthening and your baby’s sleep habits will change from time to time. It won’t be this way forever.
Remember to breathe and smile and enjoy your babes at each stage of their development. School is such an exciting chapter for everyone, so enjoy!!
The Gentle Sleep Specialist xx