Climbing With Kids: Sleeping and Napping Outside
Hey Beth! I have been reading your blog, (love it and am going to try the Mutu system, to fix up my ab split! thanks!) I bet you get a thousand climber/mommy questions, so I’ll skip the do you remember me, we bouldered together once… How did you get Theo to sleep at the crag? Did he sleep well? I want to get out but I’m worried he won’t be able to go to sleep. He is almost 4 months… Any tips or tricks?
Thanks so much!
Hi Julia! Thanks so much for your message and kind words! Super nice of you to reach out. Where did we climb together? I’m terrible with names, but would love to make the connection!
Congrats on your little one! How is everything going so far?
Ah…the question of sleep! This is probably one of the things I google the most and has some of the most passionate answers around. “As a parent, it is important to not put off the idea of sleep training or never not co-sleeping, as dealing with your child’s sleeping issues is something that all parents have to face…you will find it a challenge if you don’t deal with this as soon as possible!” 🙂
But, the question of sleeping/napping at the crag is a good one. I can tell you what has worked for us and what I know works for some of my friends, and hopefully one of them or some combination will work for you so you can get outside with your little one. Theo has usually done pretty well sleeping outside, which I’m very thankful for. I’m not sure if we’ve just gotten extremely lucky or it’s what he’s used to, or both, but so far it’s gone okay for us.
The first time we took Theo out (when he was 5 weeks old) he had a meltdown. We tried everything: nursing, walking, singing, bouncing. I remember being terrified thinking “What if Theo just hates being outside?!” Luckily, swaddling worked for him in the end. It was really windy, there were a lot of people at the crag, it was cold and new for him. My guess is it was just too much stimulation for the little guy. But, having a bag of tricks to choose from always seems like a good idea.
Here are a few ideas and things that have either worked for us or friends:
– Laying him on the ground. If I know we are not moving areas or going very far or it’s not buggy out, I will normally walk him in the Ergo until he is asleep. Then I’ll lay him down on an open jacket (if it’s cold out) and then zip the jacket and tie the arms around him, which gives him a swaddling effect. I’m not sure how long this technique will be good for, but so far it’s been awesome through the first year (thank you John and Shannon and Lyn and Paul for the genius idea!) If it’s wet or really cold then I’ll put either the Organic Slider pad or Metolius Shield pad under him.
– Sleeping on me. If we are going to move areas, routes, etc. and I know he won’t make the transfer, then I’ll usually just have him sleep on me. I know this might be hard for some people as you don’t get to climb with a baby strapped to your chest. But for me, a non-tired kiddo has been worth the hour or two of no climbing. Who knows what I’ll do when he’s a 40 pound toddler, I’ll either have a super strong back or a broken one … but so far that’s been my answer.
– In a kid tent. If it’s buggy and or threatening rain, we have some friends who use the KidCo Peapod tent. We haven’t used it yet, but I think we’ll invest in one this fall for Theo. It seems like such a good, relatively cheap piece of equipment to take to the crag (great idea Becca! 🙂
– In the good old fashion stroller. My friend Becky used her car seat in the stroller for a month of climbing in Fontainebleau. It literally looked like it wouldn’t last a day in the forest, but the cheap Craigslist Chicco stroller held up over miles and miles of sand, four wheeling and boulder hopping. And at least in Fontainebleau, napping in some sort of stroller/jogger seemed to be the norm for the European babies. At one point at Isatis, I counted 5 sleeping kiddos under the age of two within 100 feet of each other, all in some sort of stroller. It’s probably a good job that these parents decided to bring along their strollers though, as I’m sure there would’ve been some very unhappy children lying around if they didn’t have a comfortable place to sleep. It’s important for parents to find a stroller that their child feels comfortable in so they can just nod off if they need too. Some of these parents may have found their stroller on Stroller Buzz as I’ve heard that there are plenty of items on there that should fit in with any occasion. All parents should know that there is nothing worse than an unhappy, tired child, so strollers are a must!
– In a cocoon type contraption. We never used this, but the Phil and Ted’s Cocoon has been passed around our group of friends and everyone has LOVED it. Obviously this is for when they are little – maybe 7 months and younger? It keeps them warm and acts as a swaddle too. And our friends have even rigged this up with webbing in a tree to swing them to sleep as if they were sleeping in a warm murphy bed so they can have a peaceful nap.
– Time your travel to and from the crag. If your kiddo is on the two nap per day routine, and you have a long enough commute to the crag, this can work great. We had friends in Yosemite who were staying about 40 minutes outside the park, their kiddo would fall asleep on the drive. One of them would stay in the car until he woke up, and voila! Nap number one is taken care of.
– White noise. We haven’t done this, but our friends took their 5 week old to Fontainebleau for a month of climbing. He slept so well on the plane ride over there that they recorded the airplanes white noise on their phone. They would place it by him when he was sleeping in the forest and it worked great. Apparently, the white noise didn’t work on just him either, I have a friend who uses it when she goes sleep on her Leesa mattress.
– Be patient with yourself. I know sleep is one of the most precious things in parenthood. So if it takes a bit to get used to outside, or they are off of their routine for a few days, go easy on yourself. I know Randy has had to talk me down more than a few times when Theo didn’t get his sleep quota in at the crag. But, the more he got used to it, the easier it became and pretty soon it was his “normal.”
I hope this helps! And other moms, what has worked for you? Any good tips for Julia, myself, or anyone else out there?