How To Expertly Manage Disruptions to Your Baby Routine

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How to deal with disruptions in your daily schedule and routine. Learn to expertly manage disruptions in your baby’s routine and adjust the schedule for baby.

Mom and baby

 

When we were brand new parents, we clearly had no concept of the importance of consistency. We didn’t understand the benefits and the positive impact a little consistency could have on a daily schedule for a baby.

Brayden’s first summer was spent here, there, and everywhere. The only thing consistent was that there was no consistency. At some point, we realized that was doing him no favors and we committed to having some consistency in his life. It helped so much!

As our girls came along, we were very careful about consistency. We had learned what inconsistency did and seen what could happen when there was consistency for a baby.

Despite the benefits of consistency, disruptions will come. Sometimes disruptions even have their benefits.

Disruptions to your routine come in all shapes and sizes. Teething, sickness, travel, visitors, errands, church, holidays, playdates, visiting family, summer…they all disrupt life for baby and even older kids.

While the people around baby can and will make sacrifices for baby, sometimes baby needs to make sacrifices for the family


Read: Balancing Baby’s Needs With Family’s Needs


Schedule disruptions pinnable image

TIPS TO MANAGE DISRUPTIONS TO YOUR SCHEDULE

Here are some tips in dealing with the disruptions when they come (and they will).

UNDERSTAND WHAT A DISRUPTION IS

Be mindful of what a disruption is. In order to have a disruption, that means you need to be leaving something that is normal or typical. If your little one was never on a solid schedule, you can’t really manage the “disruption” to it because it doesn’t actually exist.

Your little one needs to have a schedule in order to be disrupted from it. If you feel frustrated that your little one can’t get on a schedule amid disruptions, be sure you take the time to establish a schedule before throwing disruptions at it.

LIMIT DISRUPTIONS WHEN YOU CAN

Do try to limit disruptions until baby is more in the swing of things. If you dedicate the time to getting your baby solid in a schedule before you start throwing disruptions at him, he will bounce back much faster after the disruptions.

How long do you need to get on a solid schedule? There are layers to this.

First, you need two weeks of super consistency to get on a solid schedule. 

From there, it will depend on your baby. Some babies are more flexible than others, so some might be able to be flexible after two weeks while others will really do better with eight weeks of as much consistency as you can do. 

ACCEPT DISRUPTIONS WHEN NEEDED

There will be disruptions that happen. Accept that fact. 

Realize that the baby is going to get off schedule. Some things are unavoidable.

An example for us is church. When all of my babies were babies and toddlers, we had church for 3 hours. I knew that Monday would be harder all around since there was a nap missed Sunday. This was not negotiable for us–church is important.

So we dealt with it and it, accepted it, and all was well. 

When you can’t do anything about it, you just need to accept the reality of it. 


Read: Handling Church: a Weekly Disruption


STAGGER DISRUPTIONS

Try to not layer your disruptions on top of each other.

If your baby’s schedule gets disrupted Sunday for church, do your best to limit (or eliminate) any disruptions on Mondays. 

Give your baby time to rebound from the disruption before having another disruption as much as possible. 

Also, stagger how many naps are disrupted in the same day. If you need to skip the afternoon nap, make sure the morning nap takes place. 

TRY TO KEEP THE SCHEDULE WHEN OUT

When you are out and about, try to stay close the schedule as much as possible. Have feeding times at the same time. See if you can get your little one to nap. Bring a wrap and baby-wear or bring a portable bed your little one can sleep in. The closer you can stay to your regular schedule while out, the faster your little one will bounce back when you get back home.

DO NOT BE AFRAID TO PROTECT THE SCHEDULE

Your child is a person and deserves to be respected as such. Keep that in mind as you try to juggle the wants and wishes of others.

Sometimes you will ask the person to wait for your baby to be awake before going out or before holding the baby.

Other times, you will need to ask baby to be the flexible one. If the visitor is there for one day or only a few hours, let them disrupt the schedule (if you want to). If they are there for several days, they can get their baby fix during wake times.

It is okay to ask your baby to be flexible at times, but is also okay to ask adults to be flexible, also. 

Watch for signs of overstimulation. If you feel your little one should be the one to be flexible right now, you still need to step in and protect your little one once you see overstimulation taking over. Read up on Overstimulation for Toddlers here and How To Calm Your Overstimulated Baby here. 


Read: Sleep Disruptions You Will Face as a Babywise Mom


TIPS TO ADJUST THE SCHEDULE BEFORE AND AFTER DISRUPTIONS

Before and after your baby has a disruption to the routine, here are some things to do.

ALLOW EXTRA SLEEP

Having the schedule disrupted will most likely have caused a sleep deficit. Your baby might need a shorter wake time than usual and then take a longer nap after missing some sleep for disruptions. That is okay! Let it happen. 

You might also (or instead) have an early bedtime or sleep in later in the morning the next day to make up for the lost sleep.

Read up more on How to Fix Your Child’s Sleep Deficit here

SHIFT THE SCHEDULE

You might start the day 30 minutes earlier or later as you look at the disruptions that will come. You might put baby down early for the morning nap if you know you need to get baby up early from the morning nap. You might let baby sleep longer for the nap before the disruption if you know sleep will be lost later in the day. 

USE SLEEP PROPS IF NEEDED

While some babies will zonk out and jus take extra sleep after a disruption, others will cry a lot and have a hard time settling into sleep. They might cry before naps and/or wake early from naps. They might even have a hard time settling down for night sleep, wake up more often in the night, and wake up early in the morning. 

As you are working toward getting your little one back on track and making up that sleep deficit, it is perfectly acceptable to use some sleep props and aids to help your little one fall asleep. You might need to rock your little one to sleep in order to get her to be able to get back on track. 

When Kaitlyn was a baby, we often used the swing after church for her first nap at home. It was just an easy way for her to fall right asleep and sleep for a nice long nap. 


Read: What To Do When Baby Wakes Early From a Nap or Won’t Fall Asleep for a Nap


GIVE GRACE FOR BEHAVIOR

If your little one is old enough to be disobedient, give grace when the schedule is disrupted. It is hard to follow rules when you are tired and hungry. 

DISRUPTION TIPS FROM OTHER MOMS

Below are tips from real moms on how they handle disruptions and what their best tips are. 

STAY CLOSE TO HOME

Christina said: This will be a new experience in a way for me because I will have a four-year-old and a newborn this summer (he’s due May 12). We will most likely do a stay-cation this summer, but I am planning to bring my new baby boy with us outside whenever possible so that my daughter can play in a swimming pool or sandbox and get as much sunshine and outside time as she can. I’m also hoping to take both of them to the park for short visits here and there (we don’t live very far). Everything will be timed around nap time once our schedule is set. If there is one thing I wish I’d done a bit differently with my daughter, it would have been to get outside with her even more. Evening and morning walks will be a must with our routine!

HAVE FLEXIBLE PLANS IN PLACE

Alyssa said: We will plan one outing a day (usually the morning) and a walk or park trip in the afternoon. I like having days set aside for various outings (Thursday’s are library days, Friday’s are the pool, etc). I have a list of events locally and we rotate enjoying them. It’s a different routine than our school schedule, but we still get out in the day, come home for lunch and room time, sibling play/movie time, and then enjoy outdoors. I also have a back log of crafts and experiments we can enjoy at home whenever we are getting bored. When we travel we usually follow a similar pattern because the kids need some down time midday and it seems to work out pretty well. This will be our first summer with my oldest two not needing naps, but new baby is coming, so that should shake things up. Hoping this one will take good naps in the ergo!

DISRUPT WISELY

When you do have to be out and about (whether for church, errands, or for your sanity), just try to stick to the routine as much as possible. Try to get those errands in during waketime. Or some babies will nap on the go. Try to stick to the routine.

Try to avoid disrupting the morning nap if your little one takes more than one nap a day. The morning nap is super important to the rest of the day. Try to work in the disruption for a time of day your little one can handle it best. 

Shseena said: Mine is to try and have a more specific time to get out..a time where i know its ok to sacrifice a nap..like around 3pm i know its okay if my 5 month old takes that nap while out because is always short anyway

PLAN AROUND the SCHEDULE

Kristen said: I usually just fit in our fun around our normal everyday schedule! For instance when my daughters were young and still napped, I usually didn’t plan anything unless we could do it first thing in the morning to be back by nap or later in the afternoon after nap and be back by dinner. I’m a real stickler for sticking to a schedule and routine with little ones! Now that the kids are older it doesn’t matter as much because they don’t require naps or have any other things they have to do. But now we have a baby in the house so we’re back to scheduling our lives around nap time and bedtime, lol! It’ll be interesting to see if we can get much of anything done this summer!!!!

DO NOT STRESS

Erica said: I live abroad and go home to the USA for summer, which means a super long flight and crazy jet lag! In my experience, the key is to get the kids back on schedule as quickly as possible, understanding that there will be a transition time of a few days. It’s hard for me but I have to force myself to be more flexible. You just have to relax about it as much as possible–things do back to to normal once you are back home, I promise!

ADJUST FOR PERSONALITIES

Katie said: Disruptions come in all shapes and sizes. When we take a long family vacation, we don’t do a ton to minimize disruptions. It is a special and different time and requires adaptability on all parts, and there is usually a lot less sleep involved for everyone. We get back to normal in a strict way when we get home.

But the rest of the time, I work hard to add activities to our lives without disrupting routines (mostly sleep routines), especially for younger kids. I watch each kid to see how they are doing with disruptions and when they need a break. Their personalities determine a lot of what each can handle. As they get older, it’s easier – mornings can be really fun and different every day and they do well with this. Special evenings can occur more often although I watch carefully to see if this is creating more fun or more overall chaos. And we try to use the summer to work on their coping/adaptability skills on how they can let me know appropriately when they’re overwhelmed, or what to do when they need some downtime.

Conclusion

Disruptions are never fun. They make it harder to stick to the schedule and keep baby on a solid routine. Follow the tips in this post to minimize the impact of the disruptions and helping baby successfully navigate the disruptions. 

Related Schedule Posts on this Blog

Reader Questions About Disruptions

  • bethers21 said…
    Val,I can’t remember where on your blog you talk about your Sunday morning routine. I know Kaitlyn misses her morning nap, but I can’t remember how you compensated for it. My son eats at 7/10/1 and probably shifting to 3 1/2 hour schedule soon. His 1st nap gets cut 30 min short (1 hour if we do 3.5 schedule) so we can get to church at 10am. Today I was able to get him to fall asleep in his car seat for 45 min around 12:15pm. I fed him and put him down at his next regular nap time after that. Do you have any tips for how to compensate for his missed naps? He’s 4 months. My biggest concern is that he is in daycare so I try really hard dto be consistent on the weekends. I hate for him to miss any naps or not stay on schedule on the weekend but need to figure out how to fit his schedule around church. Thanks!!
    April 27, 2008 1:01 PM
    Plowmanators said…
    I can’t remember either…it is probably just mentioned in several posts :)The way I compensated has evolved as she has gotten older. Once she was at an age where a nap was dropped, I would just give her an extra nap. So she would have an evening nap when she usually didn’t. I also put her down early for the next coming nap. Since your son’s nap isn’t totally gone, you could either add a short nap, extend the afternoon nap, or put him to bed early.Right now, she misses her morning nap completely. We get out at 12. She eats lunch then goes straight down, which is usually somewhere around 12:45. Her nap usually starts around 1:45 these days. She then naps until her normal wake up time. We then put her down a little early for bed, perhaps 30 minutes.
    April 28, 2008 10:06 AM
    bethers21 said…
    In your opinion, do you think skipping/shortening his first two naps on Sunday will be a problem/mess up his week since I can only guarantee good naps on weekends since he’s in daycare?
    April 28, 2008 10:44 AM
    Plowmanators said…
    It honestly is a possibility. I know Monday is a catch up day for Kaitlyn, despite the extra sleeping on Sunday. It really is a difficult situation. For me, I would still go to church. You will have to decide your value system and decide what you want to do. It will be shortlived; as he gets older, he will be more flexible and can miss sleep easier. You will have to see how he reacts. Good luck in figuring it out.
    April 28, 2008 11:11 AM
  • hunter’smom said…
    My son is five months and has his bottom teething coming through. This has really disrupted his naps. Not his night time sleep though. Any suggestions on how to get him to sleep through the naps while in pain like he does at night? I have tried letting him cio and shortened wake times. He is sleeping one hour in the morning, 1 1/2 hours in the afternoon, and 1 hour for the evening nap. Is that enough?
    April 27, 2008 7:03 PM
    Plowmanators said…
    Your answer is going to come more in the form of alleviating the pain since that is what is causing the waking. If you are okay with Tylenol, giving that to him 20 minutes before his nap should help. The good news is that once those teeth are through, he should go back to normal. I wouldn’t CIO for teething pain, though. If he won’t sleep more with medication, you can always put him to bed a bit early if he needs to. Be sure to check out the teething post: Tips and Tricks: Teething
    Good luck!
    April 28, 2008 10:10 AM
  • colleenmari said…
    I have a 12 week old and have been doing BW since day one. It has been great, she started sleeping from 10:30 to about 7:30ish…until now. Our typical feeding schedule is 8:00, 11:00am, 2:00pm, 5:00pm, 8:00pm and 10:00pm. We went on vacation last week and now she is waking up at all hours of the night! Last night she was up at 2:30, I let her CIO for 45 minutes until she went back to sleep, but was up again at 4:00. I finally fed her just to get some sleep myself. What do I do? Also, when do I know to drop a nap? She takes a shorter nap after her 5:00pm feeding (typically from 6ish to 7ish) and often won’t sleep after her 8:00 feeding until her 10:00. Thanks!
    September 1, 2008 10:25 AM
    Plowmanators said…
    So, remember that a vacation can really mess things up for a while. Also, 3 months is a growth spurt age. In this case, feed more in the day to hopefully remove need for nighttime waking. I would have fed her, especially since she woke up again so soon.See this post for dropping naps: Everything You Need to Know About Dropping Naps
    I might try dropping that nap after 5 to get her to bed before 10.
    September 5, 2008 10:34 AM

Dealing with Disruptions in Your Routine. How to deal with disruptions in your baby's routine. How to handle disruptions and adjust the schedule for baby. 

This post was originally published on this blog in December of 2007.

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valplowman
valplowman

Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at Babywise.life, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook

16 Comments

  1. Firecracker
    June 3, 2008 / 1:44 AM

    Hi there!So I went on vacation to visit/ show off the new baby to my husbands family. Well the trip was awful. My son did pretty well with all things considering, but he had trouble with his naps. Basically my mother in law completely critized my parenting the whole trip. Saying things like “She won’t drive back with her husband (13 hours), but she’ll let her baby scream for hours. She just leaves him on the bed and walks away” I have never done any of the above. He fussed, not cried for like 20 minutes when he would wake up halfway through his nap. And sometimes in the morning because both of his bottom teeth are coming in at the same time. But I was totally consoling him. Does anyone else feel like they have to justify them selves to everyone? I know that this is what works for my son. So why does it seem so awful to outsiders?

  2. Plowmanators
    June 3, 2008 / 5:10 AM

    My husband and I have talked about that. It is strange that people can be so critical. I think some people criticize because they don’t want to have to work around the needs of the baby, but rather want baby to work around them. Some people feel insecure about what they are doing and feel the need to go out and attack those who are doing things differently to try to make themselves feel better. It sounds like your mother in law has other bitterness about things and is just critical in general. I wouldn’t really justify yourself. I would just basically say that you are doing what you know to be best for your son, just as you are sure they are doing (or did) what they know to be best for their child. I wouldn’t defend and I wouldn’t explain. I think anyone who is openly critical of another peron’s parenting skills isn’t looking for an education, you know?

  3. Rachel Stellaaa
    June 8, 2008 / 8:12 PM

    FirecrackerI totally understand what you mean about having to justify yourself about how you are doing things. I feel the same way. I’m just way too paranoid about what other people think about me. It’s stupid, and I’m working on it, but that is just how I am. My mother in law can’t stand to have a baby even make a sound for 1 second without responding to it. So, when I’m at her house I sometimes do things a little different than I normally would. Because my son is so used to how things normally are, it doesn’t make any difference. The same thing goes for church. I hold my son there the entire time he is sleeping. He just won’t sleep any other way. It doesn’t disrupt him at all. Also, I wanted to mention that as my mother in law has spent more time with me and baby and seen how I know when he is tiredand hungry, and that I’m able to keep him so happy, I can tell that she is now much more accepting of how I do things. In fact, she often comments to her daughter who has three children that her youngest is ready for bed, needs to eat etc and she has NEVER done that to me the last few months (and she is not one to hold back saying anything, even if I am just her daughter IN LAW).

  4. djwagaman
    June 17, 2008 / 1:22 PM

    I have a question about a more extended disruption in routine… I came down with the stomach flu on Saturday, and my husband had to bottle feed our 3 month old formula for me. Because of the medication the dr. gave me, I had to formula feed Sunday and Monday as well, and I pumped to ensure my supply stayed up and that the medication was not stored in my milk. Last night she woke twice to eat, when before she was sleeping through the night. Anyone have an experience with this before? Is my milk supply that low now? Or is it the switch back to breast milk from formula?

  5. Plowmanators
    June 18, 2008 / 4:45 AM

    That is no fun when you get sick! You are at a growth spurt age. If she hasn’t had a 3 month growth spurt yet, then she could be in one. It is also possible that your milk supply has dropped. Pumps just aren’t as efficient as baby 🙁 You could try increasing your number of feedings in the day to see if that helps it.

  6. Plowmanators
    June 27, 2008 / 5:01 AM

    thanks for your comment Rachel!

  7. my3sons
    September 11, 2008 / 10:07 PM

    Hi Valerie,Thank you for publishing this blog! I recently started trying to get my 3-week-old on a babywise routine. It is going ok. He nurses only 7 times a day (7/10/1/4/7/10/3am-ish), but he is a big boy and his output is great. I am trying to get him on a 3-hour routine during the day, but with two older kids I am struggling. He won’t take a full feeding if I nurse more frequently than every 3 hours. He also sometimes wakes up from naps before a feed time. What do you recommend then? It gets the whole schedule off because if I feed him he won’t take a full feeding, but if I wait, he’ll probably fall asleep nursing. How do I figure out the schedule when I need to take my 5-year-old to preschool and pick him up twice a week? The times we are gone from home are in the middle of a naptime (8:40-9:15 and 11:40-12:15).Thank you!

  8. KJackson213
    November 6, 2008 / 4:27 PM

    firecracker, I know your posted your comment about being sick a LONG time ago, and I dont know if youll ever read this but I wanted to give some information to help others in the future! The same thing happened to me around baby’s 3 months (I got the stomach flu AND my baby went through a growth spurt at the same time) and therefore started waking during the night. My lactation consultant recommended Fenugreek, its an herb and it helps increase the prolactin in breastfeeding women. My milk supply remained low for a couple of days but as soon as I started pumping AND taking fenugreek it boosted within 24 hrs. It was back to where it used to be and MORE within 3 days. It took baby about a week to start sleeping through the night again, bc the waking had become habit (from me feeding her during night wakes for 3 days…but I knew she was hungry, until she stopped eating as much). But things got back to normal after we stopped feeding her in the middle of the night for about 3-5 days. I hope this info helps someone like it did me!

  9. Plowmanators
    November 7, 2008 / 6:41 PM

    Thanks for the info KJackson! I have heard a lot of mothers take fenugreek.

  10. Rhianna
    February 3, 2009 / 5:04 PM

    I appreciate this post. My daughter (5 months) currently has RSV, which has disrupted our schedule, but before that we were on the east coast (3 hour time difference) for 2.5 weeks. She was already off schedule because of our trip, then to come home and get RSV, I am worried about ever getting back on our great routine. She is all messed up right now, but when she is sick, I can’t make her CIO because she already feels terrible. I am so concerned about it. I am hoping we can bounce back, although I’m not so sure since it has been so long. She used to sleep 11.5 hours per night and we were just ready to move to a 4 hour schedule, things were great, very little crying at naps and an overall happy baby. Now…well, it just isn’t that way! I miss her.

  11. melissa
    February 24, 2009 / 10:24 AM

    Do you have any advice on traveling and adjusting to a new time zone? We will be traveling back to the US from Europe in August when baby is 1 year old – we will first hit the east coast, which is a 6 hour time change, then the west coast, for another 3 hour change – I’m dreading it! I’m thinking of gradually shifting his wake up and bed time while we are still here, maybe working up to a 3 hour change – thus, making the trip a bit easier. Do you have any suggestions?

  12. Plowmanators
    March 2, 2009 / 7:19 PM

    Rhianna, Sorry I missed your post until now! Hopefully things are back or getting back to normal. RSV is nasty. Be patient, and she can defintely get back to where she was 🙂

  13. Plowmanators
    March 2, 2009 / 7:21 PM

    Melissa, I would dread that also. See the post that is posted today (3/2) on the time change. All of the strategies for time change can be applied to time zone changes. I think it seems most babies do okay with a huge time difference like that. I also suggest you click on the blog label “traveling.” There are readers who have moved large distances and put there own tips in there, so be sure to see their comments.

  14. JAM3124
    April 18, 2013 / 5:39 PM

    No one has posted here in a long time so I hope this gets read! Been doing BW with my 9 week old since day 1. She sleeps through the night, just since last week. My question is in regard to going to church, Bible study and other activities in the day that we will be doing in the fall. By August, she will be probably on a 4 hour schedule. What do you recommend I do for the morning nap on church day and two other days we have things to go to in the morning? I am guessing she will eat at 7am and nap from about 8:30-10 and need to eat again. Each of the activities are from 9-11 or 9-12. The people who will be caring for her won't necessarily try to help her nap when I drop her off at 9. Do I just let her miss the morning nap or have a short one and then give her a nap right after she eats again at 11? I hope that all made sense!! Thanks!

  15. JAM3124
    April 19, 2013 / 3:41 AM

    In regards to my post above, these are the days I am concerned about: Sunday: church 9-12, Tuesday: Story Time at Library 10:30-10:50, Wednesdays: Bible Study leaders' meeting 9-11, Thursdays Bible Study 9-11Is that too much disruption? She will be seven months when we start this schedule. Thanks!

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