On the go naps can add stress to any mom’s day, especially when they tend not to be good ones. We can’t stop our lives and be confined to home for every nap all week long and you certainly don’t have to. I believe a nap that takes you outside in nature, in the good old fresh air is fantastic for both Mamma and
child’s health. Try these easy tips to help facilitate longer on the go naps!
When planning your on-the-go nap, for babies on multiple naps it is always best to do so with the second or last nap of the day. This is because this is usually the shortest nap of the day anyway, and if this on-the-go nap doesn’t turn out to be a great one then you don’t have to worry as much! You can always pull up bedtime to avoid overtiredness.
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Always pay attention to the type of environment they’ve been in prior to. Has it been in a busier, more stimulating place like the mall/amusement park, family gathering? When places are louder and baby’s seen many more faces then usual, it adds substantially to their homeostatic sleep drive, in other words sleep pressure, making them more tired sooner than regularly. You may have to up naptime by about 10 mins to ensure baby doesn’t get into the dreaded overtired zone which will make them take longer to fall asleep and also causes short naps.
The other thing about timing, it may seem as simple as once it hits baby’s naptime, its time to walk or drive. However, it’s always best to schedule your drive time around the start of Naptime. If you know it generally takes 10 mins in the car before your child falls asleep, then plan to pop them in the car about 10 minutes before nap time would normally begin.
If you are out during awake hours and finished an errand close to the time of their second nap, say within 20 mins, it is best to wait a bit and time it to facilitate their nap with the drive as opposed to trying to fight it. Sleepiness + Driving/strolling = always wins! You might as well keep on schedule.
My main rule is try not to plan an on-the-go nap 2 days in a row. Incase it wasn’t a good nap, your child is going to be more tired than usual and if repeated the next day, the higher risk you face going into the overtired zone. Once in this zone, a domino effect is created, affecting the quality of night sleep and in turn the rest of the week’s sleep as well. Keeping on-the-go naps at about 2 per week, spread out, should help avoid this.
A Little Nap Routine Goes A Long Way
The biggest reason a baby won’t fall asleep while out is due to overstimulation. If you have been out in a busy area like a mall, family gathering, amusement park or beach, it is more important then ever to incorporate a mini nap routine before trying to get baby down. This involves stepping away from the action to be somewhere a bit quieter first. About 15 minutes before regular nap time step away from the action and do a shortened or ‘mini’ nap routine. For example, you can include reading a short board book, sing a calming lullaby- and whatever your last step is at home, make sure you keep it in. Babies LOVE this structure and predictability around sleep. Babies and toddlers need this wind down to settle into a more relaxed state which will get them down faster. Comfort Items
A familiar item from home offers comfort and helps relax them. For toddlers this may mean their favourite stuffie. For babies under 12 months, a light blanket or sleep sack that has the familiar scents from home is the safer option. Again, this falls into the predictability factor that children crave. Environmental disturbances will cause your child to wake too soon
This is because when they are moving from one sleep cycle to the next, they actually rouse out of the deeper stages of sleep into the lightest. It is around this mark (40-60 minutes depending on age of the child) they will stir, and if there are environmental disturbances, they will fully rouse out of sleep causing a short nap. Avoid this by doing two things-
1. Block out that light!
Covering the stroller or car seat with a blanket is known to cause overheating. Overheating is dangerous for a newborn and baby under 12 months old so please avoid this. But also note that overheating can cause short naps! The best way to block out the light that interferes
with connecting sleep cycles is to do it safely with the Snooze Shade® . This cover has breathable mesh fabric that ensures baby doesn’t overheat. They make car seat covers as well.
2. Bring a travel sound machine with you
When in a noisier area, a white noise machine will mask the noise variations that cause babies to wake too soon from a nap. I like the Hushh compact sound machine from Yogasleep because it can go surprisingly loud,
is rechargeable and has a handle that makes it convenient to hang on the stroller or car seat.
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