Does this picture look familiar? Hands full, arms full, trying to leave the house juggling a baby and your coffee at the same between naps type-of-familiar?? :)
If so, congrats- you're well on our way to mastering the art of "leaving the house with a newborn"! If you're like me, I have to get out of the house every day, which helps not only my sanity but my children sleep better. How? Studies have proven time and time again that exposing babies to natural light and fresh air can boost the ability to take long naps, and sleep longer at night- but this only works if you protect their nap schedules (sleep begets sleep). Let's chat about naps on-the-go, the dreaded carseat nap & transfer, and how to enjoy yourself once you're out of the house during a baby's nap!
CAR SEAT NAPS: THE Good, the Bad, and the Dreaded Transfer Attempt
Any naps taken the car are referred to as "Motion Naps", meaning a nap taken while in motion. Motion naps are less restorative (have you ever flown a red eye and had a great sleep? Uhhh no.) and therefore can decrease your child's wake window between sleeps. Good news: You can offer baby a decent chance at a good nap by stopping the car once you've noticed they are asleep. Bad news: This nap will most likely be 45 minutes or less. And the transfer attempt once you arrived home? Transfers from car-to-crib are best "attempted" when baby is in a deep stage of sleep, about 20-30 minutes after they've passed out in the car seat. If your baby is a self-soothing pro and/or you've had a particularly stimulating outing, you have a higher chance of succeeding at this (and if you don't, hashtag #sendwine).
Outings with Baby IN BETWEEN Naps
The ideal time to run errands: After the first nap of the day. I can remember back with my first baby, I tried to visit my doctor for my 6-week checkup with my newborn son in tow. My timing (and traffic) was AWFUL; he cried unconsolably, and I remember desperately pulled off the freeway and jumping in the backseat to feed him, and moments later a police officer was tapping on my window telling me that I was in a "dangerous area" to be alone (ack!!) Timing is EVERYTHING. For busy Moms, this is the best time of day to run errands, go on a walk, or have visitors. The first nap of the day, as I refer to as the "Golden Nap", is an extension of night sleep in most cases, making it extremely easy for baby to fall asleep at (vs. Naps 2-4). The time between waking for the day and Nap #1 is always the shortest as well, and you will almost guarantee yourself an accidental nap in the car if you leave the house, which is why I like to plan outings immediately following this nap (and a big feed). The wake window after Nap #1 is usually a little big larger and baby is well-rested, giving you more time to shop Target freely without a fussy baby, or in my case, reduce chances of running into the law.
Outings with Baby DURING Nap
I don't personally love this idea, unless it's completely necessary, because I miss out on not only an opportunity for some "Me Time", but cat naps that babies catch while out & about are usually just that: cat naps. Due to lack of consistent environment and new sights/smells, your baby won't be able to take a long nap while on the go. However, I know that plenty of Moms enjoy their "Me Time" while baby is napping peacefully in the car seat, only to have baby wake up and become agitated due to his or her cramped car seat position. A GREAT solution to this problem (and something I wish I would have known about with my infants), is the Binxy Baby Hammock.
That's right, a hammock that baby can stretch out in while you cruise the aisles of the supermarket in peace. This product fits most standard size carts and would be wonderful for cesarean Mommies like myself who also aren't advised to lift much within the first two weeks (like a heavy infant car seat). In addition to holding your baby, the Binxy Baby will also securely support an infant car seat. If your baby falls asleep in their infant car seat on the way to the grocery store, there’s no need to wake them. Simply transfer the infant car seat over to the Binxy Hammock and fasten it with the attached safety strap. Genius, right? And it's a win-win: now you can add more Target items to your car that you didn't realize you needed until you walked into the store that day (or maybe I have a Target problem?) When baby is up and ready to party, I roll up my Binxy and easily store it in my diaper bag until next time.