How To Go Out With Your Baby without ruining the routine. Tips for being flexible with your baby and what gear you need.
We all need to get out of our houses for our own sanity. Our children also need to get out of the house sometimes.
When it comes time to actually get out, it can seem really stressful. How do you keep baby safe? What gear do you need?
And how do you do it without killing your schedule or routine?
The stress is there, but so is the need to get out. Not only for sanity, but for relationship building, having a life with friends, errands, and appointments (just to name a few).
So yes, disruptions to your routine are okay and even necessary.
Some people view the fact that a schedule gets disrupted as a reason to not bother with a schedule at all.
I don’t think you have to go that extreme. You can still have a baby schedule and learn to manage disruptions. There are many compelling reasons to have a baby schedule. So do not give up!
I have always been one to keep disruptions to a minimum. Here are some principles I operate by to keep going out as least disruptive as possible.
I will also share good baby gear to make getting out easier.
- How to Get Out of the House with Your Baby
- Maintain Your Morning Nap
- Space Out Disruptions
- Recognize and Accept Your Child’s Limitations
- Get the whole series
- Maintain Baby’s Schedule When Possible
- Plan Wisely
- Have Babywise Success!
- Thank you!
- Be Prepared for Disruptions
- Hire a Babysitter
- Be Flexible
- Baby Gear You Need
- Baby Carrier
- Bouncy Seat
- Place to Sleep
- Appropriate Clothes
- Feeding Gear
- Reader Questions
- Related Posts
- Reader Questions
How to Get Out of the House with Your Baby
Here are some tips to keep in mind when you are disrupting your routine.
Maintain Your Morning Nap
If you have a baby who sleeps in the morning, avoid going out in the morning if at all possible.
You want to keep that regular nap time in the morning.
Missing that first nap is the fastest way to mess up your whole day. If you can get that first nap in before going out, the other naps are easier to work with.
There are exceptions to this.
When Kaitlyn was a baby, our church was from 9-12 AM, so Kaitlyn missed her morning nap every Sunday.
Church is more important to me than keeping a consistent schedule for that day.
However, Kaitlyn was also old enough (11 months) at that point that missing that morning nap didn’t throw her entire day off.
She went home from church and took a longer afternoon nap. She then also goes down for bedtime early. The age your baby can do the same will depend on your baby.
>>>Read: Going to Church Without Ruining Your Baby’s Sleep
Space Out Disruptions
I try to keep days with a disruption spaced out. So for me, Monday was a day we are home all day because Sunday was disrupted by church.
I always give my kids time to bounce back before disrupting them again.
We had church disruption to our routine on Sunday, so we kept Monday uninterrupted.
If you know you have an appointment Thursday, try to keep Wednesday and Friday as normal as possible.
Recognize and Accept Your Child’s Limitations
When Kaitlyn was a younger baby, our church was 1-4. For that time, Brayden missed his afternoon nap, which was hard since it was his only nap of the day.
He went to bed early those days since he hadn’t had a nap.
We also came to realize he really couldn’t miss a nap two days in a row. Saturday and Monday he really needed his nap.
Some Saturdays we had to miss nap for things, but we certainly paid for it for a few days with his behavior.
We also noticed that he couldn’t miss more than two naps a week and maintain grace.
Another thing with Brayden is that when he was a baby, bedtime was imperative. He was not a happy baby beyond bedtime.
So for us, we were home by his bedtime. That was our life for that time period.
There were plenty of times we would have liked to have stayed out instead of having such an early curfew ourselves, but it was necessary for our baby to be home by bedtime. Otherwise, we had a very fussy baby who wouldn’t sleep.
Parenting often requires sacrifice. Once he got older, both he and Kaitlyn could handle getting to bed late, so we were able to stay out later some nights if needed.
Take note that your baby will not always have the same level of flexibility nor the same sensitivity to disruptions.
For example, newborn babies typically will sleep anytime anywhere. You can go out easier with a newborn because of that. That same newborn who would sleep anywhere might be super particular by 9 months old.
Get the whole series
Maintain Baby’s Schedule When Possible
Having a baby on a routine or schedule doesn’t mean you can no longer have a social life or stay in touch with your circle of friends.
In addition to what I shared above, you can make going out easier with the right baby gear.
If we went to a friend’s house or family’s house, we brought along the pack and play so Kaitlyn could try to nap while we were there.
I realized she might not nap as long as usual, or maybe not at all, but it was worth a shot.
I did the same with McKenna and Brinley. We took a peapod or bassinet along so they had a safe place to sleep when it was nap time.
If your children will sleep in the car (mine would not), you can try to time travel time so that it lines up with naptime or bedtime.
During the Christmas season when Kaitlyn was a baby, we went shopping a lot.
Kaitlyn was 7-8 months old and had 3 naps a day. This was before online shopping was huge, so we had to go out a lot.
She wouldn’t sleep in her car seat or on the go, but we couldn’t get our shopping done while working around that 3rd nap.
Well, that nap wasn’t all that important to her happiness. She was at an age where many drop it anyway.
If we were home, she would sleep 1.5 hours, but if we were out, she stayed awake. That nap was the best for her to miss.
Because of that, we planned for our disruption to her routine to be during that third nap. We planned wisely.
We just put her to bed early to make up for the lost sleep.
Be Prepared for Disruptions
When you disrupt the routine of your child, be fully aware that your child will likely be disrupted in some way.
It might be with behavior, disposition, sleep, eating, etc.
This will depend on the personality of your child. But always remember that it isn’t fair to expect an overly tired child to be obedient or happy.
Be mentally prepared for these disruptions so you can respond to them well.
Hire a Babysitter
When you want time with moms or have something else going on, it doesn’t always mean you have to disrupt your baby.
If you are comfortable with it, get someone to watch your children while you go out.
We had kids who went to bed early. If we wanted to go out beyond their bedtime, we got a sitter (who happens to be my parents).
It can be easy to get a babysitter after bedtime because they are there while the kids sleep.
If you left your home after the kids were in bed, you basically only need someone to come to your home and watch movies while your kids sleep.
My kids will often sleep over at my parents’ house while we go out on a date. That is another perk of Babywise. My kids sleep well and sleep 11-12 hours, so it isn’t a chore for my parents to watch them overnight.
They don’t have to wake in the night with the kids.
All grandparents are thrilled to watch their grandkids, but even more so when it is easy and fun.
The schedule can be disrupted at times if you need to disrupt it for an activity. I don’t see a problem with going out on occasion if you need to, but I would be prepared to have to come home early if the baby loses it.
You need to keep baby’s needs in mind while you are out. If baby needs to go home and go to bed, be prepared to go home to accommodate.
I know it is hard and disappointing.
Keep in mind that it is a short season. As I said, parenting requires sacrifices. It gets easier to take your kids places as they get older.
Baby Gear You Need
Having the right gear on hand can make going out much easier.
A baby carrier of some sort is super helpful for going out with your baby.
Baby wearing can make it so your baby stays calmer and will maybe even sleep in that position. We always found this helpful when we were out and about for family time, especially with our third and fourth babies.
One note, it is wise to be comfortable with a baby carrier before trying to use it while out and about. It can be stressful to be out already, and if you are trying to figure out how to use something on top of that, it won’t be fun for you.
My kids all loved to sit in their bouncy seat and play. We often took it with us when we were leaving home so they had a familiar safe place to play.
It is easy for baby to get overstimulated while out, especially if he is getting passed around and held a lot. The bouncy seat can be a nice break.
If you don’t have the space for a bouncy seat, try bringing a blanket and a few toys instead.
Alternatively, you can put baby in his infant seat car seat with some toys.
Place to Sleep
Having a place for baby to sleep while you are out and about can really help minimize the disruptions.
As I mentioned above, we used a pack and play, bassinet, and pea pod. We had times we took a swing (you can even get a travel swing). Sometimes baby slept in the infant carrier. At church, our kids often fell asleep in the car seat.
If the place you are going has a place for baby to sleep, you can simply put baby in there. Just don’t forget a swaddle blanket if baby is still swaddled. A sound machine can also help block out strange noises.
If you will be outside with baby, make sure you have things to keep baby warm, cool, or out of the sun.
If your baby will need to eat while you are out, think through what you will need for that. Will you want a cover if you are breastfeeding? Do you have all of your bottle gear if bottle feeding?
If baby is eating solids, where will baby sit to eat (the bouncy seat can work, as can a lap). There are a lot of travel high chair options if you find yourself needing one often.
Do you have the spoons, food, and bibs packed? Think through it all so you have what you need.
>>>Read: Tips for Feeding Baby and Napping Away From Home
Going out with a baby can be a lot of work! As time passes, it will become more of second nature to you.
Do not let stress or fear stop you from giving it a try. Go out and have a fun time!
- IzzysMama said…
Do you have any suggestions for incorporating play groups, library story times and things along those lines, that dont match with your schedule? I dont want to avoid these things just because of the “schedule” but I dont want us to get to far off track either. Thanks!
March 3, 2008 12:30 PM
I would first limit the number of disruptions per week. You don’t want every day to have something that interrupts a nap. The length of time baby is so young that you have to limit yourself is short.Then I would find something that works best with your schedule. If you are out during naptime, be prepared to possibly need to leave if baby is fussy. It helps to bring lots of toys and things to entertain baby with. If you breastfeed and will be out during a feeding time, you can bring a bottle (either pump or formula). I personally wouldn’t do a play group that was during the naptime of my baby. Babies don’t really play together anyway, and it would just set baby up for fussiness and frustration on your part. If you want to do a playgroup, see if you can form one that fits in with your schedule well. It is only a short season :).
March 3, 2008 3:35 PM
- How To Expertly Manage Disruptions to Your Baby Routine
- How To Maintain a Sleep Schedule with School Disruptions
- Why Disruptions to Routine Are Actually Good
- Adjusting for Context Using Babywise
- “Flexible-izing” a Baby
- How to Have a Routine for Your Baby and Still Have a Life
- Let Your Schedule Serve You: You Don’t Serve Your Schedule (Don’t Stress)
- The More You Do It, The More Your Child Will Get Used To It
Sorry, another question–I told you in my first post that I had tons! There are times when we have to go somewhere part way through Noah’s nap, or when we come home part way through a nap. I am always unsure as to what would be the best for his sleep–if I know we’ll be leaving an hour into his nap, say, should I put him down for his nap in his car seat so I don’t have to wake him to do that in an hour? And the reverse, if we come home and he’s been sleeping for an hour, and we have an hour left, do I leave him in his car seat or risk waking him up by transfering him to his crib?
Babywise Mom said…
jencwu, for sure I would leave him in the carseat when you get home, unless he is one of the few babies who will transfer well. Most won’t. If he will fall asleep in his carseat, that can be a good idea. My kids wouldn’t do that, so I always put them down but new that was going to be a short nap that day.
My daughter transfers well and always has. I’d try transferring and if that doesn’t work then leave the LO in the car seat. I tried leaving my daughter in the car seat once and she ended up waking up after only a few minutes. Try it both ways and then stick with what works best for your LO.
Babywise Mom said…
Anna, Thanks! I think most babies don’t transfer well, but if yours does, that is definitely the preferable route.
I actually have a related question. My daughter is getting ready to grow out of her infant seat. We’ve used it for naps SO many times. Whether we’re out during a nap, at a friends house, or at church, we usually put her down in her infant seat b/c we can just stick it right in the car. So what about when we have to use a bigger, NON-transportable one? I’d appreciate some ideas. And this is a babywise baby that usually WILL NOT fall asleep in someone’s arms…that’s why we’ve always used her seat. thanks!
Babywise Mom said…
Angie, I don’t think you will like my answer. For church, that is when Brayden stopped napping at church. I then took lots of quiet toys for distraction and finger foods. They stay a lot happier if they can just sit and eat.For friends, I would take a pack and play and put your child in that in a room somewhere. Spare rooms, office, closets…whatever. You will then have to transfer her when it is time to go.
Amanda MC said…
I’m SO thankful I discovered this blog! I have a question related to travel/when to start BW. I’ll try to stay as brief as possible. I wanted to do BW from the get-go, but we live overseas and I had to travel to a different city to get the best medical care that was available here. Therefore, we were staying with friends for the first 3 weeks of our daughter’s life. Then both sets of grandparents came and were here weeks 5-9. I started CIO at 10 wks and she did get progressively better, however was still skipping naps. Yesterday had been a hard day to begin with, very little napping, and then I found out that we are going to have to leave the country suddenly to get a different visa. So, our schedule again will be disrupted for an unspecified amount of time. My question is, do I just wait and implement CIO after all of this is over? What do I do in the meantime? She used to go right to sleep when we would bounce her on our lap and transfer well. Now she is not doing either well. She DOES sleep through the night and has since she was 9 weeks. She also follows the eat, wake, sleep pattern and has since birth. Any suggestions on getting her to nap? It’s a vicious cycle we have going here. Also, we stopped swaddling her a few weeks ago and does well at night without it. Should we still swaddle for naps? I feel like it’s a step back, but then again we’ve already stepped back some to begin with.
Babywise Mom said…
Amanda Mc, I would wait until you are settled before CIO. I would also reinstate swaddling for naps, but leave it off for night. They sleep deeper at night, so that is why she can sleep unswaddled at night just fine.Hang in there! Hopefully things will settle down soon for you.
This post originally appeared on this blog March 2008