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Hey, hey!

I'm Michele DiSpirito

I've been where you are.

Tired. No. Exhausted! Frustrated and confused as to what to do with an adorable little one that just. won't. sleep.

I'm a mom to three boys ages 6 and under, wife to Kyle for 17 years, and all about getting some good sleep for us all! While struggling to make sleep consistent and a reality with my oldest, I scoured the internet for answers and was left more frustrated and confused than when I started. I wanted a clear path; someone I trusted to just tell me what to do, how to do it, and when. What I wanted was what I'm here to be for you today - a Pediatric Sleep Consultant.

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3 Tips for Having Naps Outside! (Like the beach, pool, or park!)

The season for beach days, days at the pool, and generally spending a lot more time outside is quickly approaching! (In lots of places, it is here!) Though those days won’t be like they used to be since you now have a baby in tow, you can at least go prepared on the sleep front with these expectations and suggestions.

But, let me preface this by saying if you’re on vacation, ultimately expect sleep to not go as smoothly as it does at home. Check out this post here about traveling with children to help you prepare for the trip overall.

Expectations and Practicality

In parenthood, we need a good blend of appropriate expectations and practicality. If we don’t have our expectations set appropriately, it can leave us feeling frustrated. If we don’t have the “how-to”, it can leave us scrambling and feeling defeated. So, let’s do our best to have a good blend of both when it comes to spending the day outside.

1. Babies and young children can’t hang all day, every day at the beach or pool.

This is especially true for young babies and children. Between the sunlight, fresh air, and heat, it’s quickly draining and overstimulating for little ones.

How to manage that:

  1. Plan your beach or pool trip around their sleep schedule.

For babies on 3+ naps a day, it may be easier to spend time by the water later in the day since your little one’s wake windows gradually get longer throughout the day.

For babies on 1-2 naps, I find first thing in the morning the easiest time to go.

In either case, first thing in the morning or later in the day, the UV index is lower (less likelihood of sunburn), the temperature is a bit cooler, and there are typically fewer people. An additional perk of going in the early morning is the early morning sunlight. It especially has been shown to help promote the secretion of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin come bedtime.

2. Try to have at least one nap in the crib.

Some little ones that take only one nap are ok to miss it on occasion and a day at the beach won’t create many waves in their solid sleep schedule (see what I did there?... waves 🙃). But if you’re vacationing and plan to be by the water daily, I wouldn’t recommend having them miss multiple days in a row.

3. Early bedtime is your BFF - even on vacation.

Even having bedtime just 15 minutes earlier can help prevent or overcome over-tiredness and prepare them for a day of fun tomorrow!

2. Naps by the water might happen. Or not.

It is possible to have a nap outside, but don’t count on that nap being long, of great quality, or necessarily happening at all - especially for older babies. Naps by the water are more likely to happen with young babies. Older children often want to be more involved in what’s going on around them and tend to fight sleep to participate.

A few ways to encourage a nap to happen while you’re outside are to:

  1. Keep their schedule and do their routine where you are

  2. Bring a portable sound machine if you’re not near the ocean

  3. Dress your little one so they won’t over-heat

  4. Bring a tent, an infant tent, or an umbrella for them to sleep under. (NOT a SlumberPod!) But, keep in mind that many beaches and pools have regulations around the types of tents and canopies permitted. So, be sure to check those before you load up all the gear. (For example, the beach I live near only allows infant tents no larger than 46”L x 36”D x 36”H and umbrellas.)

  5. Do a nap in the carrier (if it’s not too hot), while holding them, or in the stroller.

Keep in mind - the “rules” are flexible.

It’s ok to bend the rules on occasion! If you have an independent sleeper, they’re not going to forget how to sleep independently over vacation. Stick with what you can and know it’s ok if you don’t.

Confession: I nursed my baby to sleep every time he needed to nap while we were at the beach, then held him while he slept. It was heavenly! Then, he didn’t skip a beat sleeping independently the next sleep at home.

It’s to our advantage that children are great at differentiating their sleep spaces. So, if they’re used to sleeping independently at home, they’ll quickly get back to it once you return.

3. Communicate your plans with those you’re with and they may (or may not) understand.

This can be the hardest one.

Be upfront with your plans and have confidence in what you decide for your child and yourself. (Even if that’s to not follow any of these tips 😆you do you, Mama!)

Communicating your expectations and plans before getting to your destination and before your babe is (and you are) tired will allow for a better space to communicate what you need and finetune the plan, should you need or want to.

But, keep in mind, depending on the beliefs and opinions of those you’ll be spending time with, you may get some flak for the choices you make.

That’s unfortunate, yet common.

So, here’s a little pep talk:

They’re allowed to think and feel the way they do (as are you) and it doesn’t have to change the way you think or feel. (But you’re also allowed to change your mind. 😉) Differing opinions don’t necessarily mean they’re wrong, they could just be a different “right”. But remember, since you were the one created to parent your child, you get to decide which “right” is right for your child and family.

But, with that said, I truly hope you do have the support and encouragement you desire from those around you. ❤️

In Conclusion

Ultimately, keep in mind that a day outdoors will track much differently than a day at home - and that’s ok!

Routines and schedules are meant to serve us - they are not meant for us to serve them.

Go prepared in the way you see fit for your child and family and bring along a lot of grace and confidence for those that may not understand.

You’re doing great, Mama! Enjoy that day out.


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