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I don’t remember my first baby’s last nap. I don’t remember the last time I pulled down her blackout blinds, gave her some milk, lay her sleepsack-clad little body down in her crib and slipped silently out of the room, blinking into the sunlight with two blissful hours to myself ahead of me.


I only know that—like so many things in motherhood—there was a last time, and I didn’t recognize it when I saw it.

Because, shockingly, just as I was at my sickest and most exhausted with her baby sister in my belly, my firstborn gave up her afternoon naps. There was no warning, and suddenly, afternoons stretched endlessly ahead as my cranky toddler struggled to make it to bedtime.

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At first, I refused to believe it was happening. But no matter what I tried, she would not go to sleep in the daylight hours. For a while there parenting got a lot harder, and oh how I missed those precious hours of silence in the middle of the day!

When my littlest was born, naps became my obsession. Yes, I am that mom. The one who plans her life around baby’s nap times.

It’s not always easy, especially when there’s a preschooler and her activities to factor into the mix. In fact, it can be downright restricting. In the early days when the baby was napping three times a day, we were all but housebound for several months.

I’m always planning—making sure to smooth the way for her hours of rest. I say no to playdates, coffee dates, lunches and visitors during nap times. And I’m planning even when it’s not nap time—I won’t take her too far in the stroller when I don’t want her to fall asleep, and I avoid lengthy car rides or leaving her in front of the TV in case she drifts off when she’s not supposed to. We opt to play in the park or the garden or go swimming instead.

As I said...obsessed.

But the truth is, whether we openly admit it or not, nap time is actually a lifeline for a mom. It’s essential for our sanity. In these days we spend in the trenches of motherhood, nap time is a refuge.

When they’re tiny babies it’s a time to recover—physically and emotionally—from what our bodies have just gone through.

As they start teething, nap time is a gratefully guarded respite to recoup from the often sleepless hours of the night before.

As they grow and start toddling around, it becomes a kind of “water break” in the madness—a much-needed hiatus from the constant go-go-go of parenting this wonderful and extremely active human being.

No, it’s not always convenient. But convenience doesn’t even come into play when it’s necessity we’re talking about.

When other people need things from me that I’m not able to deliver because I’m prioritizing nap time, I feel guilty. When I can’t join in when friends invite me places, I feel torn. When my preschooler begs me to take her to the park but I can’t because her little sister is sleeping, I feel wretched.

And yet—nap time prevails.

It’s only now, as my littlest approaches the age my eldest was when she gave up her naps, that I feel the ache of another milestone slipping through my fingers and am reminded how truly short this season of parenting is.

I’ve started taking extra notice of our nap time rituals—the way her head fits perfectly into the gap between my shoulder and my jawbone as she drinks her milk beside me and her hair tickles my nose. The way she hooks one leg over my body and clutches her pink rabbit close. The way she sleepily murmurs, “Night, night, Mommy” even though it’s still daylight outside and the way her thumb automatically finds its way to her mouth as she turns to her side to fall asleep.

I will miss all of these things as much as I will miss the silence in the house and the time to myself when nap time is a thing of the past.

I know the day is coming. But until it does, I’m hanging on to nap time—and to my sanity, TBH—while it lasts.

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Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)

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Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

This article was sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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