How to survive a late night event with a baby

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When I was a naive pregnant girl, I dreamed of the time when I would put my newborn in a sling and go to events in a beautiful dress with my baby peacefully sleeping next to my chest and only waking up to breastfeed {what? celebrities do it!}  In the back of my mind, I knew that chances were  good that I wouldn’t get the kind of baby that just sleeps anywhere you take her, but I was dreaming of the best case scenario- what else did I have to do? When Alexis came along, of course, she was the compelete opposite of a baby who would EVER fall asleep or do anything except on her own terms. And that is fine, I like me a strong baby. However, that meant that we had to learn, adjust, figure out ways of how to lead our life while “bowing down to the princess” and most importantly just WAIT for her to grow a little bit.

I am sure some of you have been in this situation: a great evening adult event (kids are allowed) that you really really really want to go to, a 3-6 months old baby that goes to sleep at 7-8pm, no babysitter or not willing or don’t want to use a babysitter yet. What are the parents to do? Skip it? Go and hope the best?

Well, after a successful 4th of July party with Alexis (along with a few other events none of which were late night ones), I feel more confident in her ability to handle outings and parties. But at the same time, there is a lot of things we, as parents need to do, to ensure a smooth event.

Andrew and I are of the mind that there is no need to deprive a baby of anything, or make it uncomfortable for her/him if you can avoid it. So all our outings are mostly focused on making sure Alexis is good and happy and trying to prevent any meltdowns. I also don’t believe in segregating baby-less friends and friends with babies, nor in getting a non-family babysitter until Alexis can walk. So that leaves us attending parties (even late night ones) with Lexi in tow. And the first such party, after Alexis became more manageable outside of home, happened to be the 4th of July party. It was a great opportunity for us to experience what it is like, as well as see if it’s even feasible to bring Lexi along to social events. It was a true success! We kept her out a bit longer than I was comfortable with, but our friends wouldn’t let us go since we hadn’t seen them much in the last year. So we ended up leaving the house at 7pm for the party and getting back home at 12 am. I will write all about the amazing event with lots of colorful beautiful photos in a few days, but for now I’d like to address the act of taking a baby to such events.

{Our second adult outing happened last weekend, when we took Alexis on a boat. She was up from 7:30am till 12pm, when she fell asleep in her carseat. It was also a success and I am now getting more and more confident and her ability to handle being out and about}

We’ve only done this a few times and we still have a lot to learn and thing, as usual, will be changing at the speed of light (hopefully for the better), but here are a few things I learned from our first LATE night “party” with Alexis. (most of these will probably be obvious to everyone with older kids}

  • Make sure your baby naps well and long all throughout the day. {If that means rocking him/her multiple times back to sleep to get that magic 1.5-2 hours nap, then do it. While I believe having a baby nap well doesn’t ensure that they can stay up better or longer towards the end of the day, it will at least ensure that they are not LACKING day time sleep and are too fussy because of that.}
  • Pack everything you’ll need hours before you have to leave. {It’s better to pack the night before or that morning, so that you could just grab the baby and go right as she wakes up.}
  • Plan a nap 1-1.5 hrs before you have to leave and attempt to make it last 1-1.5hrs. {A baby’s sleep cycle lasts about 40 minutes, but according to E. Pantley, in order for them to truly rest and receive ALL the benefits of a nap, it has to last somewhere around 1.5 hours.}
  • Try to be ready to run out of the door the second your baby is up. {Easier said than done, I know! In fact, in our case, even though we tried SO HARD to follow this rule, we still only managed to get out of the house an hour after she woke up.}

The reason for the few last ones is because later at night babies are on a short fuse and get tired faster. If you can concentrate on not wasting that valuable awake time on running around the house packing things or getting ready,you’ll have more luck. If your baby falls asleep easily in the car and everywhere else, then you don’t even need to read this, since your outings probably resemble this: out and awake, tired and asleep- rinse and repeat}

  • I am a big believer in being prepared. I don’t always know WHAT to be prepared for or with and learn by mistakes, but if there is a chance I will need something, I go for it. So for me it’s essential to bring any favorite toy or item imaginable with us when it comes to late night outings because I NEVER know when Alexis is going to have a problem and/or what will cheer her up. So my advice is bring everything you can think of, at least for the first few outings while you’re just trying to figure out what works for your baby. For any other trip that happens during the day, it’s a bit more manageable without a multitute of things, but for the first late night trips, you just don’t know how the baby will react to being up past their bedtime.
  • Try to recreate your bedtime routine when you are away. I brought her naptime books. A few times that we were out, it really helped to read her (back then from memory) naptime books before putting her to sleep. Again, that’s for babies who resist napping/sleeping outside of home.
  • If a baby is interested and stimulated (not OVER stimulated), she can go for many more hours being awake and happy than she would at home in a boring familiar environment. I can now rely on Alexis being ok for about 3-4 hours when we are out, without a meltdown. She would be tired, but if she’s seeing things she’s interested in and people she is interested in, she will stay awake without so much as a peep. That being said all babies are different and other babies might get too overwhelmed by the stimulation when they are tired. Do test your baby’s temperament when opportunity presents, so that way you’ll know your baby’s threshold.
  • Speaking of thresholds,they are constantly changing. Remember the failed Easter trip 2 months ago? Alexis would react very differently to it now.
  • Do plan where you’ll be changing the baby and if there is a quiet place for you two to retreat to, if need be.
  • BRING A CARRIER. While Alexis enjoys being in our arms more, being in a carrier once she was really tired, kept people away from her and not overstimulating.
  • Don’t wait for her to cry to get a clue. Once she starts getting fussy despite the attention and new sights and sounds, it’s time to go or to put her to sleep there. She won’t fuss if she’s interested in what’s going on, despite of tiredness. Fussiness is probably a sign that she’s beyond the point of no return {or bored}. Retreat!
  • Make sure that she is comfortable otherwise. That she is not too hot, not too cold, that her clothes aren’t irritating, feed her on demand (OBVIOUSLY!). This is the time to make sure your baby is completely comfortable, because if she is bothered by anything ( a scratchy tag, temperature, hunger) she will also be more likely to break down.
  • Finally, and I consider this probably one of the most important points: invest in a comfortable cool car seat. I cannot tell you the difference it made having her in a better carseat. The fact that she WILL fall asleep in it, if the car is running and she is sufficiently tired means that we can go to a party and leave for home expecting her to sleep in the car. I realize most people don’t have the same problem of babies not sleeping in their carseat, but it was a real thing for us before we switched to a cool roomy convertible one. She would have horrible meltdowns in her old carseat if she was tired.  At the end of  4th of July party she wouldn’t fall asleep no matter what I did: rocked her in a rocking chair in a quiet dark room, nursed her, sang to her. But when we were ready to go home, I got her drowsy with some nursing and rocking and then put her into the car seat and she was out the whole ride back. Marvelous!
Once again, all this will probably fit a baby who is a bit more like Alexis: curious, alert, one that doesn’t fall asleep easily, possibly one with a later bedtime like her. I am sure for babies who still get overstimulated easily at this age, a few different things will work better, like covering them up to reduce stimulation (which never works for Alexis, since she either gets mad, or thinks I am playing with her)

Another tip that I will be using next time:

If your baby is wearing an extra special outfit, buy two and pack the other one to go. If she doesn’t end up needing it, you can always return it, but if the first one is ruined, you at least have a backup that is just as nice.

We are going to test this out once again when we go to Orlando for my MIL’s wedding reception which starts at 6pm and I am hoping for a similarly successful event.

What do/did you do to make your evening trips and events with a small baby successful?


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  • Reply
    July 13, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    My daughter is a creature of routine so we just needed to ensure we stuck to the routine even if we went out. She was on a 3-hour eat, activity, sleep schedule from the moment she woke until she went to bed for the night. As long as we stuck to her routine we were able to avoid any meltdowns! Sometimes she would need help getting to sleep either being held with a light receiving blanket covering her view, or if she was in her carseat in the stroller we had to throw a light receicing blanket over that and stroll her around then she would be out in no time!

  • Reply
    Elena C.
    July 13, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    Nice tips to remember for future!
    Congrats to Paula (?) 🙂

  • Reply
    July 13, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    You don’t need two exacts outfits. Just take a nice spare in case the first one gets puked, pooed, etc

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      July 13, 2012 at 10:25 AM

      If your baby is wearing a perfect outfit you picked out for the event and it doesn’t make it TO the event, trust me you DO need 2 exact outfits. {this is what happened for 4th of July and she ended up wearing a spare onesie- sucks!}

      • Reply
        July 13, 2012 at 12:18 PM

        Yes I get when is something super special and money is not an issue, you can get two of the same and return one after that. I normally have tow spares with me, a nice one just in case, and the second more simple if the thunder strikes again.

        I have took my now toddler daughter everywehere since she was a baby. I try to stick to her routine everyday, but we don’t deprive from doing things just because of her (I mean, as always as I can take a child to the event). And she aIways comes back to her routine without poblem. I think exposing her to going out since she was little, helped us to have a flexible child.

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          July 13, 2012 at 1:05 PM

          Yes that’s what I was talking about. On normal daily outings we just take a spare onesie but it just really sucked to have bought her a perfect outfit that she didn’t even show up in at the party 🙁 the worst part was that I actually had a second outfit at home but didn’t think to bring it,

      • Reply
        Betsy's momma
        July 13, 2012 at 1:21 PM

        When I take my daughter somewhere with the perfect outfit, I usually transport in a onsie and once we get there I change her. I dont want put her in unwashed clothes.
        Buying 2 of the same outfits seems a bit pricey.

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          July 13, 2012 at 1:28 PM

          Ha! We totally tried it once, but the problem was that by the time we get there she is already fussy from the car seat and we’re walking on thin ice, trying to get her into an outfit is impossible and get her annoyed even more 🙂 So this time we thought we were being smart putting her in the outfit right away ( she almost never has diaper blow outs) and voila: Murphy’s law.

          Didn’t think about the second outfit being unwashed, you’re right – that’s a concern.

  • Reply
    July 13, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    LOL, it’s so funny to me how we seem to have a lot in common (passionate about organics, etc.) but are SO different in so many ways – I’m a total minimalist! For going out (not counting overnights) I bring a carrier (usually the ergo or mei tai, now that it’s too hot for the Moby) and the “diaper bag” (an old backpack we had laying around) with a few pre-folds, an extra diaper cover, some wipes and a wet bag, a muslin blanket (which has so many uses – I love them!), an extra pacifier, an extra onesie and maybe one toy, if I remember to throw it in the bag. I find that being out and about and seeing new people and things keeps my daughter well entertained, we don’t really need toys. At restaurants I give her a napkin (if her pacifier’s in she won’t try to eat it if it’s paper, and we let her chew on cloth napkins), and it keeps her entertained for a meal. Another GREAT place for summer outings when it’s hot is museums! Luckily we live within walking distance of a few in our city, and we’ve been going to the art museum really often. My girl loves the bright colors of the modern art, it’s cool, and there are lots of out-of-the-way benches for nursing.
    We started going out w/our baby when she was a week old (Christmas day, we went to three different relatives’ houses) and restaurants, etc. by 3 weeks. We threw a successful all-day party for 4th of July, and our daughter did great through all, although she slept through the fireworks! Luckily she’s a relatively easy-going baby, but I would say the biggest piece of advice I have is to not stress too much, and just go with the flow. And having tons of friends with babies around the same age is great – no one ever blinks an eye if someone is crying or nursing or needing a diaper change! Plus my daughter LOVES to look at and play with other babies. It’s awesome!
    The only thing we really plan for it to make sure we get her in the car before she’s overtired (or else she’ll cry the whole way home). We’ve never had an issue with our regular old Chicco KeyFit re: sleeping in the car, including 3-4 hour drives. Is that common that fussy babies like convertible seats better?

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      July 13, 2012 at 10:22 AM

      I don’t think it’s that WE are so different in many ways, I think it’s that OUR BABIES are so different. Personally, I am usually a super spontaneous grab my bag and go kind of person ( except for when it comes to really important things that I have to plan and pack). However, Alexis IS and looks like WILL ALWAYS BE a very particular baby. So far taking lots of stuff with us has made our life MUCH easier. If I had a baby that was just happy sleeping wherenever and playing with a napkin, that’d be different. But just in the car, if she’s in a funky mood, I have to rotate 5-6 toys to keep her engaged. At the party she was FABULOUS, just drinking in the sights and attention but in the car, I need my whole arsenal to keep her content. She just doesn’t look at one thing and is happy, she needs stimulation ( it was that way from birth to be honest). And the whole sleeping in the carseat, you have no idea how lucky you are. It’s HORRIBLE when you baby doesn’t fall asleep in the car seat.

      So as much as you might want to say “I don’t need ANYTHING to have a successful night with my baby”, that’s largely because YOUR baby doesn’t need much to have a successful night 🙂 hahaha Trust me, if your baby needed it, you’d make your car a house on wheels. Well, unless you’re one of those mommies that don’t blink an eye at their baby’s cry, which it doesn’t sound like you are.

      • Reply
        July 13, 2012 at 10:59 AM

        I am very lucky that my girl is relatively laid back, but it’s not to say we don’t have our moments, for sure – I do spend a fair amount of time on outings walking around, soothing and rocking her if she’s upset. And I never said my baby doesn’t need anything! My daughter needs a lot of stimulation, too, all babies do, but she’s just as happy rotating between playing with my fingers, my hair, a washcloth or a clean cloth diaper and a toy or two rather than dozens of fancy brand new toys. But I tend to be very frugal (my friends might call me cheap, ha!) and I try not to be too materialistic, so I bristle at society telling me I have to buy so much STUFF to keep my baby healthy and happy. I don’t buy a lot of brand new things for my baby (which is why I do try to buy the very best (organic, high quality, etc.) of what I do get), and yes, a napkin doesn’t keep my baby occupied the WHOLE time at a restaurant, but I don’t need a huge arsenal of toys either! And frankly, I can’t afford thousands of dollars worth of brand new baby supplies, so I have to be creative and resourceful with what’s at hand and what we do have.

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          July 13, 2012 at 11:14 AM

          Yeah I know what you meant. It’s just Alexis needs an extra ordinary amount of attention and the whole no-sleeping in car seat is just tough (though the new seat solved it whew!)

          I’m actually a big proponent for buying things used for many reasons, one of which is offgasing and especially when it comes to baby things that they stop using so fast. BUT since we like nice things, it’s kinda hard to find certain ones used 🙁

          • Jennifer
            July 13, 2012 at 1:10 PM

            I agree, E! No one can ever understand a high needs baby unless they have one.

            Have you ever goggled the term “high needs baby”? I did and it helped with mine.

          • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
            July 13, 2012 at 1:19 PM

            No I don’t think they understand. Some people think that you just need to chill out and your baby will chill but the truth of the matter is there are intense babies just like there are intense adults. I’ve read all about high needs babies. I can’t tell you whether she fits that description but she’s definitely different from most babies I’ve encountered who are content with a lot less than her. That being said I do in a way enjoy her personality, it’s a challenge and it’s fun to figure out what works.

  • Reply
    July 13, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    My boys were both very easy babies, they sleep everywhere when they are tired. We took our eldest to a big music festival in Hungary when he was 8 months (here is a picture of us when he was awake ). On evening outings he was in the ergo carrier or stroller. We took him everywhere at evenings or sometimes nights. We did the same with our younger son but it is a little more work with two kids. We don’t have a car so we do everything by bike. My advice would be just trust your instincts and do what feels good.

    • Reply
      July 13, 2012 at 10:41 AM

      We have the exact same headphones. 🙂 They work so well for outdoor concerts. When I was pregnant the only thing I was worried about missing was seeing lots of live music, but now I have a new-found appreciation for outdoor festivals!
      What kind of bike do you have? I try to bike everywhere, but since you can’t put a helmet on a baby under 1 year, we haven’t gotten baby carriers for our bikes yet, and I hate all the additional driving I have to do. I’d love a Christiana tricycle, but they are so pricey!

  • Reply
    July 13, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    Thankfully Maia has never been super super picky, but girl NEEDS a whole bag of toys…she has since she was little – the worst was trips by plane. Because she’d sleep the whole plane ride (still does) but the airport time is the WORST! If I don’t bring enough toys to keep her attention…she goes crazy on me. So I started buying brand new toys before big flights and wrapping them and when she wakes in the airport between planes let her open one until she’s bored and then give her another.

    Anyways. Go mama! You’re so prepared and I can’t wait to look at all of this when I get pregnant again someday down the line 🙂

  • Reply
    July 13, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    Our lil guy doesn’t like to miss a thing and I’ve been taking him out as much as possible either to restaurants or just socially to a friends house (with a few other people) and of course on walks etc -but we’re on an alternative vaccination schedule so I’m super careful. I really loved being a spontaneous girl (pre-bebe) and yeah…my diaper bag is always pre-packed, now to the hilt. We just did his first concert (7/5) after a long fun 4th of July party/day on the sand/ night of fireworks with friends. I never know just what I’ll need because he can go from happy to pissed…its a slippery slope and my creativity provides the only detour! I had to walk around the beach nursing him until he was chill, and then pseudo nursed (on and off again) during the fireworks- he was sleeping in and out, but not quite! He did fall asleep in the car seat that night around 10:30ish on the way back. 🙂
    The car seat thing is a huge issue for us too. He is barely in it (he Chicco Key fit) and doesn’t like to be strapped in- so I’m eager to try the maxi cosi one out. He can get highly annoyed if we dont entertain him while he’s in it. I have a cool toy I’ve strapped to it that has rings and things and so he’ll grab at that a little, but then he’ll tire of it and I have to move it out of sight asap.
    Strange….it can be so exhausting everyday, yet I do enjoy the challenge!!!!!

  • Reply
    July 14, 2012 at 1:33 AM

    I have been guilty in the past of hearing others talk about ‘fussy’ or ‘high maintenance’ babies and thinking to myself that they should just relax, or do x,y, z, etc and then their baby would be just fine. I used to think it was the parent, and not the baby, that was creating the fussiness. After I had my son 3 1/2 years ago I REALLY believe this because he was SUCH an easy baby. If he cried, I could immediately fix it by either picking him up, feeding him, or changing him. He was a great eater and sleeper, he loved riding in the car, he loved being held by anyone, and he was always happy. Well…then I had my daughter two months ago and oh man, it is a different story. I’m the same mom! I do the same things! And yet…my 2nd baby is TOTALLY different than my 1st. For the first time I experienced what it is like to have a baby cry and not be able to fix it right away. So when I read your posts I totally understand. I think it’s great that you accept your daughter’s personality, have the perspective to understand it may (or may not) change as she enters new developmental phases / gets older, and that you have the patience and passion to help her be as happy and comfortable as possible. I love reading your posts because I really relate to the experience of a baby that isn’t super carefree, mellow, etc. And actually, even though she is my 2nd, I was having the worst time breastfeeding (bleeding, sore, painful, horrible) but I was determined not to switch to formula and I read the book you recommended and it literally saved us — I read the whole thing cover to cover but even after reading the first few pages I was able to get her to latch correctly for the first time. I am so thankful you recommended it — I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t read that book – THANK YOU.

    In terms of going out, my must haves are (1) an ergo (2) extra clothes, wipes, diapers (3) a couple swaddle blankets (I use one for changing diapers since it’s less bulky than a portable changing pad and I sue the other one for a nursing cover / light blanket. That said — since my daughter also hates the car seat and HATES it when others try to hold her when she’s fussy we always end up having some amount of stress / break down when we do outings.

    Thanks for the great post!

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      July 14, 2012 at 8:19 AM

      Luckily, Lexi doesn’t cry much and picking her up always calms her down but she’s high needs in a way that she has a very strong personality and wants what she wants and won’t just accept anything.

      Your story is funny, because you got a different perspective with your second but most people continue being close minded bc they don’t get to experience a strong willed child.

      • Reply
        July 14, 2012 at 1:23 PM

        Huh, I had gotten the impression from your posts that Alexis was a true “high-needs” baby – i.e. like my good friend, whose baby with colic cried for 3-4 hours straight every night before bed until he was 6 months old straight, despite any amount of rocking, nursing, change in mother’s diet, etc. If he got the least little big upset, he would scream uncontrollably. That’s what I’ve seen from high-needs babies. That’s what I thought Alexis was like, based on what you had written! Maybe a more accurate description for you might be that you’ve decided to adhere to a pretty intense attachment parenting philosophy? (Which I also try to adhere to!). I like to think my daughter is pretty laid back – she doesn’t cry much either – because in part I baby-wear a lot, nurse on demand, respond to her needs immediately, etc. I imagine if I didn’t respond to her immediately, she would cry more often. I’m not trying to pick on you, I just like trying to suss out the difference between Alexis and my daughter, it’s very interesting to me since they are so close in age, etc.

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          July 14, 2012 at 3:06 PM

          You know I am still trying to figure it out. I am VERY VERY VERY hesitant to place labels on Alexis right now. I don’t feel she is a textbook high needs baby. And to be honest, even the definition of high needs varies.
          Does she cry all the time? No. But that could be because we are Very responsive.
          She is VERY STRONG and has a “baby opinion” about almost everything.
          She hates being restrained, she always needed to see/move, she’s been alert and demanding being carried around from literally day 5. She doesn’t go to sleep easily. She shows displeasure at things she doesn’t like.
          She won’t be put down unless she’s interested in being put down (meaning most of the time when you put her down on a mat with toys she’ll fuss to be played with or picked up, but the occassionaly she’ll actually play on her own for 5 minutes.
          Most “parenting” advice couldn’t be further from the truth for her. (I always smile at people who go in to teach you something because they think since they had 2 kids they know how to parent mine). Most everything that works for other babies, doesn’t work for Lexi. She needs very little sleep (sleeps 9/10 to 6/7 with hourly or do wake ups) and yet seems to be fully satisfied with the sleep she does get. (one tip that did work great from Pantley book was rocking her back to sleep after she wakes up after 30 minutes. That made her day time mood 100 times better.)

          She almost never outright cries (except in the old carseat and in the first few months when going to sleep) but she fusses a lot when things aren’t moving fast enough for her.

          So no I guess I don’t want to say she’s high needs. I think she is a baby with a strong determined personality who knows what she likes or doesn’t like and won’t have other people tell her what to do. And both me and my husband are devoted AP type parents who are happy to do what we have to to keep her happy and support her needs and desires as well as nurture her awesome character.
          For us the question isn’t how hard, it’s what’s best.

          She’s only been around one baby her age but the difference was amazing, the other baby was this sweet girl who was just happy strolling in her carseat and sucking on her binky and Lexi was sitting upright in her stroller and looking around non-stop and then fussing when she was ready to be done. It’s just different personalities and level of intensity.

        • Reply
          July 14, 2012 at 4:10 PM

          Jessica — I thought my son was relaxed, didn’t cry a lot, and was happy all the time because I did nurse on demand, co-sleep, hold him all the time, didn’t attempt to place him on a routine / schedule, etc. But I do all of those same things with my daughter (and have been EVEN MORE relaxed since she is my second) yet she does cry, act fussy, etc in a way that my son never did. Rocking her, holding her, nursing whenever she wants, etc doesn’t always do the trick. She does not have colic, she does not cry for 3-4 hours straight, but she will fuss and cry for 10 – 20 minutes 3-4 times a day for reasons that I cannot explain. She screams non stop in the car, doesn’t want to be held by her dad, doesn’t want to be put down (for even a second while I pee!). I’ve tried changing my diet, asking the doctor for advice, reach out to other moms for their experiences, etc but I after all of that I am just coming to realize she is a different baby than my first and I continue to do my best to find new ways to soothe her and just stay patient. As the weeks go by, the fussiness gets less but she is still a lot more high strung than my son was. I think attachment parenting is great, but I don’t think that it necessarily guarantees the baby will be more relaxed, less fussy, etc. (Although I think it helps reduce those issues if they are there). I look to my mom all the time for advice since I am on of seven kids and she tells me that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF HER BABIES was totally different. LOL. Some were fussy, some were relaxed. And she nursed all of us for 2 years, was very attentive, and super relaxed. I think there is no one size fits all approach. Being a parent is certainly an adventure!

  • Reply
    July 14, 2012 at 2:18 AM

    We have been taking my son out since he was 2 weeks old. We are season ticket holders to a local sports team and didn’t want to miss out on going just because of him. I put him in the Ergo and we went and we were gone for about 6 hours and he did absolutely wonderful. The only time he started appearing to fuss was when he would get hungry and needed changing. He slept pretty much the whole time and when he was awake he was perfectly content in the Ergo or eating. We’ve been in this routine, except when he had his surgeries, since then and have only had 1 meltdown in 15 months. He also goes to bed much later than most babies, 10-11pm. It works for us since my husband works nights and it allows him to get a nap in when he gets home.

  • Reply
    July 14, 2012 at 3:15 AM

    We started taking our son out when he was a few weeks old. He goes absolutely everywhere with me, and my husband and I haven’t changed our lifestyles that much. He’s been to weddings, international flights, 5ks, sightseeing trips around castles… When he was under 2 months old, he would sleep in his infantino (he passionately hated the moby I wanted to use), but after that, he was wide awake for most outings. He’s a very alert little guy, but he’s also pretty laid back. For an event that will last a few hours, he needs 2-3 toys, a handful of diapers, a spare outfit, and new people to watch. If we’re going to be late, we put his pajamas on him and start cuddling more at his regular bedtime even though he gets to stay up late. He’s never been a good car sleeper, but putting on pajamas and chilling out before getting in the car seems to cut down on fits. Now, as a toddler, he’s a fantastic traveler still, and we can get through a whole weekend away from home with his teddy, a couple clean outfits, and a bag of diapers.

  • Reply
    July 14, 2012 at 4:02 AM

    ok ok ok…I’ve read your blog for over a year now and I have always been positive about it and I’ve enjoyed your posts..but I just have to say that this is honestly some of the WORST advice I have ever read regarding child care…and It makes me feel bad for poor lexi. She’s not an accessory, she’s a baby! Let her sleep on her normal schedule and if that means that she’s sleeping while you’re at a party, then thats fine!

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      July 14, 2012 at 8:16 AM

      Sweetheart, do you really think that if Alexis would actually be capable of falling asleep at a party I’d keep her from it? That’s ridiculous! The point and the advice IS for babies who don’t just fall asleep anywhere. I’d expect you to actually read my post before making comments.

      (as a matter of fact, at this party I desperately tried to put her to sleep by going into a quite dark room, nursing, rocking. She wouldn’t sleep because she was too interested in new surroundings even though she was incredibly tired)

      So it’s really silly of you to even insinuate that I’d ever keep her from sleeping.

      • Reply
        July 14, 2012 at 1:31 PM

        I think that Alicia might be saying (and of course if I’m wrong, let me know! I don’t want to put words into anyone’s mouth!) is that for a lot of parents with high need babies, they know that keeping them out late past their bedtime would seriously disrupt their sleep for at least a day or so – in a sense, going out past a baby’s bedtime is inherently selfish, since it’s for the parent’s benefit not for the baby (which of course I’m guilty of, since I take my girl out late all the time!). I know some couples that don’t even try to go out in the evenings, ever – for them, it’s not worth screwing around with their baby’s schedule (what they do instead is having people over for dinner, etc, that way one of them can put the baby to bed at their normal time while people are over). It’s just two different parenting philosophies – I know that if my girl wasn’t adaptable with her sleep, I might do the same!

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          July 14, 2012 at 2:23 PM

          It’s absolutely selfish to take the baby out past their bedtime or out in the carseat if the baby hates it or many other things parents do often. I agree. (though I don’t think that is what she meant, however I might be wrong).
          But most parents do it, because if they were to be completely selfless they would get out of the house much (the high needs kids’ parents)

          That being said, Lexi’s bedtime might be 7-8 but she truly doesn’t go for the night till 10. So we were hoping that would work in our favor. The plan was to only stay an hour (till 8) and be home by 9. However we all had so much fun we ended up staying until Lexi indicated it was time to go.

          I had heard about disrupted schedules, and was very curious to see how it would work in our case since up until now we had been rejecting all late night invitations. And I am happy to say that there was absolutely no difference between how Lexi was the next day or her schedule. I think what helped is her schedule being completely baby led.

          As far as other parents, it’s up to them to decide what works and doesn’t for their child. I’m no expert in other kids, I only know Alexis. I was asked to write about how our party worked out by a few readers and I did just that. What other people get or don’t get out of it is their deal.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      July 14, 2012 at 8:38 AM

      Also I don’t know if you have kids, but what I outlined IS a normal schedule for a baby. You don’t need to move the schedule around, you need to move your departing time according to her sleep.

  • Reply
    July 14, 2012 at 8:23 AM

    This is a really interesting post!

    I was wondering about one thing. Where you say you’re not planning to leave Lexi with a non family babysitter until she can walk – what is the rationale behind that? It may just be a personal preference (which is obviously fine – the most important thing is that you, Andrew and Lexi are comfortable with the situation) but I know you generally like to do a lot of research, and I was just curious to know if it had arisen from that.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      July 14, 2012 at 8:36 AM

      It’s not from research (though there are plenty of studies that show that most day care situations aren’t the best for a baby and books that talk about how to pick the best day care), it’s simply that I don’t trust anyone to make sure they respond the same way to her during these emotionally formative months. Not to say there aren’t great baby sitters, but you never know whether the one you got is great.
      I don’t believe I read anything bad about leaving your baby with a babysitter if that’s what you’re referring to.

      • Reply
        July 14, 2012 at 2:35 PM

        No, not at all. I guess what I meant was that there is such a huge “normal” range of ages at which babies first walk (between 8-18 months is my understanding of the developmentally normal range – it could be larger) so I just wondered if there was anything specific about Lexi achieving that milestone that meant she could be left with a babysitter.

        Are there any books you would recommend which talk about how to pick a daycare situation for a baby? I’m not in the USA, but I’m sure the same principles would apply.

        Thanks for responding.

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          July 14, 2012 at 2:42 PM

          I’ve read about day care situation in quite a few books. The most recent is Superbaby, I think brain rules talks about it too, so does the Attachment parenting book.
          If you look on my top Nav bar there’s a section books, go to the baby books, there are links to all the books I’ve read including the ones I just mentioned. They are all terrific. If I remember additional ones I’ll let you know. You can always look through table of contents of each one of them, most list day care as a chapter.

          As far as the walking milestone, it just feels better because they are mobile.

          • Lucy
            July 14, 2012 at 4:01 PM

            Ah, I understand now. Thanks for the recommendations. My son won’t be in daycare for at least another year, but it’s great to have books recommended by other mothers who have found them useful.

        • Reply
          July 14, 2012 at 3:59 PM

          No offense intended for either Lucy or Elena, but Lucy – I think you’d be much better off asking for input on books about choosing day care from someone who has actually looked at day care. Elena and her husband are in a position to care for Alexis in their home, so I’m not sure their input on day care is worth much. Talk to people who have been there.

          (FWIW, my son is in daycare and we’ve had a nanny in the past. The idea that day care is automatically a bad or non-ideal environment is patently ridiculous. Look for a place that has a low caregiver to child ratio, that has an illness/vaccination policy you feel comfortable with, has a clean facility with plenty of age-appropriate toys/gear in each room, and go with your guy when you tour. When you visit, speak with the teachers as well as the director. Ask questions and see how you feel they respond. Do they take the time to see that your concerns are answered? Do they blow you off? Look at the other kids and babies. Are they mostly content? Are their faces covered with snot? Are they interacting with the teachers? Ask for a copy of the parents’ manual.)

          • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
            July 14, 2012 at 4:40 PM

            Elizabeth, what she was asking about isn’t advice on day care but what books that I told her about mentioned how to choose day care. I only skimmed those chapters but things I read seemed very interesting. No offense intended to you either, but having kids in day care doesn’t make one an expert. Having kids in day care AND researching what makes a day care center good including reading books on studies (which what I was referring to) can. So if that’s what you did, I’m sure you’ll be happy to help Lucy. But honestly, the few books that had a day care chapter, took it from baby development standpoint (brain and emotional) and cited studies that anyone who plans to have kids in day care should read.

          • K
            July 16, 2012 at 7:47 AM

            I will have to agree with Elizabeth, and I KNOW you are intentionally trying to start a mommy war but it is hard for those of us to have no choice but to put our kids in daycare before they can walk, to not get angry/insulted/hurt when someone suggests that I could be damaging my child by putting him into daycare.

            Anyway, I HAVE a kid in daycare (from 6 months on) AND did research. Within a week of him being in a daycare his providers already knew exactly how to calm him down, exactly when he was hungry, exactly when he was tired/bored/etc. Heck, they even got him to nap in his crib with no more than 3 minutes of crying. Within two weeks of daycare he started becoming more vocal. Heck, his daycare even follows attachment parenting philosophies.

            He has lessons plans each week which stimulate all of his senses, he is read multiple books a day, and talked to in two different languages. He has an awesome infant sized outdoor playground. And most importantly he has providers who love him, and care for him, so much that they babysit him outside of daycare in our house, and call to tell me how much they miss him when we decided to keep him home for the day.

            Yes, there are going to be bad daycares out there which could be emotionally damaging to your infant. But high quality places with small infant/provider ratios are going to be able to provide child with love and support and a healthy emotional environment.

            And as far as studies go, peer reviewed studdies have shown that children in daycare demonstrate higher cognitive and social skills than their non-daycare peers.

          • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
            July 16, 2012 at 9:13 AM

            I think you meant “you’re NOT intentionally trying” lol

            Look, other people’s decisions shouldn’t make you angry or defensive. I personally don’t choose to put my baby into day care or have a babysitter till she walks, because I don’t feel I can trust anyone else to be as responsive to her, but you know what? If I had to ( as in if I had to have a job outside of home), I would find the best damn day care I can and I would do what I had to do. I think it’s people who get insulted at other people’s decisions are the ones starting and continuing mommy wars. Why can’t we all just do our thing and NOT look at what others are doing? Do you really need approval of your parenting decisions from others? I don’t. Come on!

            As far as studies go, I don’t know where you read that, but I’ve seen numerous mentions of studies that say quite the opposite ( but we’re talking about little babies). I’m sure once the baby is past age 2 or so, being in a GOOD day care would improve their skills, provided that their mother wouldn’t do the same at home.

            All we were discussing with Lucy is how to find the perfect day care, not debating whether daycare is good or not.

          • K
            July 16, 2012 at 10:27 AM

            Oh, yes I meant NOT trying to start a war. Sorry about that. As far as studies go, I only look at peer reviewed ones. So I tend to ignore most of the stuff that comes out in “Celebrity” doctor books. The National Institute of Health did a GIGANTIC study on child care. Concluding in part:

            “Children 6 months of age and older who had more experience in child care centers showed somewhat better cognitive and language development through age 3 and somewhat better pre-academic skills involving letters and numbers at age 4½ than children with less center-based child care experience7,8,10,29 (when quality was similar).”

            (note, I will be fair and say that the study does show that children in daycare may have a slightly higher rate of behavior problems when starting school. In addition, studies also show that above all children from higher incomes/2 part households etc are more advance cogntively when they enter school).

            Anyway, the study is really interesting.

            And I agree that we should not be concerned with what others do, but surely you must understand how it is hard not to bristle at the idea that I might be damaging my kid by putting him in early daycare, expecially when it is not something people necessarily have a choice about.

          • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
            July 16, 2012 at 10:49 AM

            I bet that study ( and many others for that matter) had a lot to do with the parental involvement/intelligence, etc And since they took kids to age 3, it’s hard to say whether the ones that were in day care since 6 months, vs the ones that went there at 2 years tilted the study in that direction. so on and on and on. You can’t separate high parental involvement and education with stay at home moms, vs those who sit their babies in front of the tv all day, vs those who send kids to day care.

            I don’t believe I said it might be damaging to put a baby into day care. I said/implied it might be damaging to put a baby into the WRONG day care. And I don’t even think of it in terms of damaging, I think of it in terms of “I can stay with my baby at home, so since i have that ability, I don’t think I want to entrust her into the hands of someone else till she’s a bit older. Because I have that choice and both me and my husband are happy to be spending time with Lexi (and don’t need “alone” time, Rachel ;))

            Honestly, K, isn’t it an absolute GIVEN that if you don’t have a choice about something, then you’re doing the best you can for your kid? I just don’t think there’s ever any reason to feel bad about something you don’t have a choice about.

          • Lucy
            July 17, 2012 at 3:30 PM

            Whoa, I didn’t mean to start a daycare vs non-daycare debate. Elena is correct in that I was asking which books she had read which talked about choosing daycare. But Elizabeth, I appreciate your tips too!

            K – thanks for the link to the NIH study. It actually doesn’t show that “children in daycare demonstrate higher cognitive and social skills than their non-daycare peers.” What it showed was that children in high quality non-maternal care demonstrated higher cognitive and social skills when compared to those in lower quality non-maternal care, NOT when compared to children looked after exclusively by their mothers.

            A really key finding was that:

            “Children who were cared for exclusively by their mothers did not develop differently than those who were also cared for by others.”

            So, no need to feel guilty whether you are a SAHM, or a work outside the home mother.

            The main thrust of this report is that it is the quality of the (to use the same term that is used in the report) non-maternal care which is key. The report includes some indicators of high quality non-maternal care e.g. staff to children ratios, level of education of caregiver etc.

            Elena was correct in that parental involvement/intelligence is the most important factor, moreso than where your child is looked after.

            “Parent and family characteristics were more strongly linked to child development than were child care features. And, parent and family characteristics predicted some developmental outcomes that were not predicted by child care. For instance, children showed more cognitive, language, and social competence
            and more harmonious relationships with parents when parents were more educated, had higher incomes, and provided home environments that were emotionally supportive and cognitively enriched, and when mothers experienced little psychological distress.”

            A really interesting study which is well worth a read regardless of how you plan to raise your kids!

          • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
            July 17, 2012 at 4:29 PM

            Daycare debate: hey that’s the risk you take by DARING to comment on my blog. We’ve got a sensitive bunch here 🙂 haha just kidding!

            Really, thank you for breaking down the article for us who didn’t have time to read it. It’s exactly what I read in the books I mentioned plus some.

          • K
            July 26, 2012 at 7:37 AM

            Hey Elena

            I just came across this article and thought it was rather timely. Figured I should share it 🙂


          • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
            July 26, 2012 at 8:57 AM

            Well isn’t THAT nice? 🙂

  • Reply
    Abbey R
    July 17, 2012 at 10:42 PM

    Wow. This just seems like so much work!
    We keep a stash of clothes, pj’s and diapers in our car alond with a package of goldfish (once they are opened, they come inside so that they don’t get spoiled) and extra toys. We have a van, but with one child this would be super easy. It has saved me on so many occasions. They have a monster blow out, they get bored, we stay late at friends house, a friends kid has a blow out and htey are not prepared :)… my basket of goodies comes to the rescue!!!

    I have 2 VERY small children {read: irish twins; 22 months and almost 11 months}, we take them everywhere and go to friends houses for dinner, have friends over all the time. They sleep with sound machines and we keep their pack and plays in the back of our van. So when we leave the house, we take the sound machines and loveys with us and rock and roll. We parent with the mind set, they won’t be with us forever (they will go to college, get married, etc) and it wil be just us, so we raise them in a marriage centered home. They are spoiled out of their minds with love and attention but the home does not revolve around them. It’s been like that since day 1 and I would not have it anyother way- it works for us.

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