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Baby Naps and School Pickup

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A headshot of Cara Dumaplin
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Cara Dumaplin

toddler sitting next to little sister with a sign celebrating the first day of preschool

If you're wondering just how to make a baby sleep schedule work when you have to drive your older kiddo(s) to and from school, you're not alone! So many parents reach out to me for help with baby naps and school pickup. 

Here are my 4 best strategies to help you "hack" preschool pickup and baby sleep:

1. Make the drive longer. Yes, LONGER!

We want to get one good nap at home in the crib, but if your morning nap overlaps with school drop-off or your baby falls asleep on the way home, extend that drive to allow for a decent nap in the car. We want to embrace the car nap instead of letting it ruin your morning. Rather than going straight home, try grabbing a coffee, listening to a podcast, or parking and scrolling through Instagram. You win! You just turned a 15-minute snooze into a solid 40-minute nap! Aim for the next nap to happen at home.

What if you need a nap during pick up time? Try to leave your house about 50-60 minutes early in hopes that your little one snoozes in the car. Grab a Diet Coke at a drive through, park in the school parking lot, check your email, and be at the end of the pick-up line. Look at you! You got a decent nap before big sister hopped in the car!

2. Ask for help.

Consider carpooling with a neighborhood family who picks up and drops off at the same school. If you have a neighbor, work-from-home friend, or homeschooled teen next door who can come sit in the house while your baby sleeps, ask! It doesn't take much effort to do homework in a house with a great napper, so don't be afraid to try this one out.

Don’t have a great napper? I’ve got you! Check out my classes. All of them address sleep, both day and night.

Another way to “ask for help” is to empower your older kiddo after pickup. This will allow you to walk in the door and get your baby down for a nap. Watch this video to see one strategy to help teach your older one exactly what to do after school. You can also use the same technique to help your preschooler or school-aged child get ready for school in the morning!

3. Wake your baby 30 minutes earlier in the morning.

This will shift nap times a bit so they don’t fall during pickup. You can't always encourage your baby to "sleep in" in the morning to allow naps to shift later. You CAN, however, wake your baby to allow for naps to shift a touch earlier in the day. 

Here is an example of how your day might shift:

Typical day for an 8 month old
Sample schedule to work in school pick up
school pick up sample schedule

If you need more help with schedules, check out this blog.

4. Try again tomorrow.

It's not always going to go perfectly. I promise; it won’t. Some days, your baby may not fall asleep in the car; carpools may not go as smoothly as you wish they would; older siblings may need to be picked up early. Baby naps and school pickup mean having some flexibility. Life is going to happen, but you can always try again tomorrow! 

babies playing with blocks at daycare

Daycare & Baby Sleep

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