When an opportunity arises to get out and socialise in the world once again, you could be confronted with a dilemma of how your baby will take to it. If socialising with friends and family was important to you before your little bundle came into your life, then it should still important afterwards and it is a good way to unwind and be yourself!
Invited to dine with friends
Most parents are nervous about leaving their young baby to have an evening out, and might not want to. However, taking the baby with you is not such a bad idea. It is good for your baby’s development to get out and about and adjust, as opposed to staying at home in a routine that allows for no interaction with the world.
With a little bit of planning both you and baby can enjoy the event!
Keep the routine
Once you have established a good sleep routine at home, try to stick to this as much as you can when you are away. Babies love consistency, and feel safer if you follow the same steps each evening and this will encourage sleep. It is, of course, going to be harder to stick to this routine if you are having dinner at a friend’s house but here are some useful tips:
- Try to make the sleeping environment as close to home as possible. Bring your own travel cot and ask if you can put this up in a bedroom. A quick telephone call or text to your friend the day before to ask if this is possible can ease your anxiety about this. Bring a ‘bedtime bag’ with you and put in this a bedsheet or blanket that smell of home and ones that your baby is used to. Her pyjamas and sleep suit. Bring her favourite blankie or teddy that she can cuddle. Don’t forget a few of her favourite books, a baby monitor and the dummy if your baby uses this for sleep.
- Try to stick to the same bedtime as you would at home. If you force your baby out of her usual routine, she is likely to become upset and strange and not want to go to sleep at all.
However, there are occasions when you would like your baby to stay up a bit later than usual so that grandparents and friends get the chance to have time with her. In that case, letting your infant have a later or slightly longer afternoon nap usually helps to postpone the evening bedtime and doesn’t do much harm.
Dealing with Noise
Some babies wake at the slightest creak of a door and others sleep through even the loudest of noises. Background noise of approximately 50 decibels (equivalent to the sound of your shower) produces a calming effect on your baby and helps block out other ‘foreign’ noise. This noise can be reproduced by a white noise machine like those that play ocean waves or womb sounds. White noise machines can be introduced when the baby is young as part of your ‘sleep routine’ but older children can get used to them too. They are of great help if you have a baby that wakes easily and can be taken with you when you travel.
It is definitely worth investing in a baby monitor for when your baby sleeps in their own room and for travelling. If you put baby down to sleep at a friend’s house, you need to be able to get to her quickly if she wakes up. Waking up in an unfamiliar place without a parent can be a scary experience that can hurt your baby’s future confidence when sleeping away. I would recommend getting a monitor with a video feed since it can be hard to hear a baby wakening up at a social event.
If your baby won’t settle
Rule 1: Try not to panic. Your baby can sense your tension and become stressed. Easier said than done I know, especially when your little one is crying and you are not feeling at ‘home’ yourself.
If you’re at the social event with your partner, arrange to take it in turns to check in on your baby. That way, each of you gets a small chance of relaxation with your friends.
Remember to stay flexible; even if you have done all the steps above, and your baby is still having difficulty sleeping away from home, be patient. All babies are different and what works for one cannot be said for all. Even if your baby has trouble sleeping initially then, at least, you have lots of things that you need in your ‘bedtime bag’ to make her feel more at home.