It can feel a little nerve wracking as a new parent, when it’s time to go stay at a friend or family member’s house with your baby for the first time. We all know how important those naps are for a baby’s temperament and it can be stressful when you don’t know how well they’ll sleep in an unfamiliar environment. Although it may require some adjustments and planning ahead, you will likely be surprised at how seamless it can be to get your baby to sleep at other homes. Here are a few tips to help with the process.
Utilize Items From Home
Whether you're staying at another home for multiple days or just visiting for the day and needing to fit in a nap, bringing some of your baby’s favorite items from home can help them feel more comfortable. Another home can feel like a foreign environment for babies which can be a little scary. By bringing their favorite pajamas, stuffed animals, blankets, or pacifiers, your baby will be reminded of home and can feel more at ease, making sleep a bit easier.
Try Not to Skip Naps
Scheduling can easily get thrown off when staying at a different home with your baby, but it is very important to keep up with your baby’s typical naps. If you allow your baby to skip naps, this could lead to them becoming overtired later on which can make sleep even more difficult. Often, when babies become overtired, they can get so upset that they start to fight sleep, which can definitely be very stressful on the parents.
Take your baby’s napping schedule into consideration when planning outings and activities and try to plan around the naps or figure out how they may nap while you’re out and about. Some babies may easily fall asleep in their stroller while you’re out doing activities, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as you keep them cool and comfortable and allow them to sleep for an adequate amount of time.
Consider Environmental Factors
Think about what you can expect prior to heading over to the other home where you will be staying. Do they have pets or other kids? How many rooms are there? You may even want to talk to your host ahead of time to get some ideas to help with planning ahead. You’ll want to find out if there is a separate, quiet area for your baby to sleep and if there isn’t, figure out how you will create a comfortable sleep environment for them regardless. This may mean finding a quiet, unused room such as an office or guest room where you can set up your baby’s crib or asking that the other household members have some quiet time while your baby naps if there isn’t a separate area for them. Your baby’s age will also come into play here, as some younger newborns can fall asleep regardless of loud noises and older babies may need more help with falling asleep.
Go With the Flow
Although it is important to plan ahead, you will also want to try to be open minded and go with the flow as much as possible. Your baby may fall asleep for a nap at an unexpected time, causing you to have to adjust plans accordingly or they may end up staying up a bit past their usual bedtime. As long as you aren’t fully skipping naps or letting your baby get too tired, they will likely be okay. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself and remember that some routines will need to be altered a bit.
Have a Safe Sleep Area Prepared
Always make sure to have a safe area for your baby to sleep. Depending on your baby’s age, the necessary sleep environment may vary but these are some general factors to consider:
- Never lay a young baby down to sleep in an area with loose pillows or blankets, as these can pose a suffocation risk.
- Lay young babies on their back to sleep and only use a blanket if it is wrapped around them as a swaddle.
- Don’t lay your baby down to sleep in an environment that is extremely hot or cold.
- Ensure that your baby’s mattress is firm. An overly soft mattress can pose a suffocation risk.
- Check on your baby periodically while they sleep, or utilize a baby monitor to make sure they’re safe.
- Set up a travel crib or playpen that is designed for baby’s to sleep in. Also, check the age and weight requirements of your travel crib or playpen ahead of time.
- Make sure that crib sheets fit snugly onto the mattress and don’t use any that are loose.
Bring a Portable Noise Machine
White noise machines can feel like a Godsend for new parents. Whether you use one at home or not, it is wise to bring one along when you go to stay at someone else's home. You can easily purchase a small, battery powered noise machine that will be easy to bring along. Noise machines can play gentle sounds for your baby to help them feel calm and fall asleep, and they help to cover up background noise. If you’re preparing to stay at a home with other kids, pets, or even noisy adults, having a white noise machine on hand may make all the difference for you and your family.
Remember that staying at another home can be an exciting and fun experience for you and your baby. With a positive mindset and the right tools at your disposal, getting your baby to sleep in an unfamiliar environment doesn’t have to be a stressful process. Understand that there will be some challenges and go into it prepared to face these challenges. Ultimately, keeping your baby safe and comfortable should be your first concern, so always be prepared with a safe area for your baby to sleep in the form of a travel crib or baby playpen.