Can I Let my Child Nap in a Car Seat or Stroller?

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  • August 11, 2014

This week’s video blog is from Kid’s in the House, a wonderful parenting resource filled with expert advice on hundreds of topics, including sleep.  In this week’s video, I’ll explain how you can use naps in the stroller or carseat to your advantage and how those times can actually make for a better nighttime routine and a better night’s sleep for your child.  Here’s the transcript:

“A lot of people ask me, “Do I have to nap-coach, Kim?  It’s just the night time coaching is so much work.  They’re sleeping in their car seat or stroller.   I just don’t have it in me to nap-coach too!”   The answer is no,  you may not have to nap and night coach at the same time. You can keep their naps in their car seat or stroller, as long as they are napping well.

Make sure, however , that it’s not a 20 minute nap here and there throughout the day.   If they fall asleep and take a good nap in the stroller, let it be.   Put the stroller in a safe, quiet room – even if it’s in your house or apartment.   I’ve had parents who live in the city, and if there’s bad weather and they can’t go out, they simply put their child in the stroller and stroll him around the apartment.  When he goes to sleep, they put him in a safe, quiet room and they let them take a nap there.

It’s not the end of the world. Motion sleep is not as restorative as stationary sleep, but I will take it over no sleep at all.   Nap deprivation can create more problems at night and a much more difficult bed time.”

Getting the right Amount of Sleep

 

An important fact to know when wondering about the effectiveness of napping in a stroller or carseat is how much sleep should your child be getting – during both the day and night.  Make sure your child is getting the recommended hours of sleep so you’re not fighting an overtired child at nap and bed time.  Watch for sleep cues and make sure you are ready to nap him when you see the first signs of him getting sleepy.

 

Watch for Your Baby’s Sleepy Cues

 

For babies that are currently taking two naps each day, you’ll find that your baby is (most likely) displaying sleepy cues about two hours after they wake up, and again about three hours after that. These cues include eye rubbing, yawning, and acting distracted or disinterested (among others). For those of you with toddlers or preschoolers on one nap, you may notice that your child acts tired after lunch, or about six hours after his initial wake up time. Use these cues to help you find the times when your baby is ready for sleep.  It’s especially important to watch for these cues when you are out with your baby in a stroller or carseat so you can help ensure they get a solid nap.

 

Transitioning from Two Naps to One

 

The quick cat nap in a stroller or carseat can be especially helpful for the toddler who is transitioning from two naps to one.  He may need just a few more minutes of quiet time at the end of the day to make it through to the nighttime routine without melting down.  The stroller or carseat is a perfect place to pick up this extra late afternoon “cat nap” allowing for a smoother nighttime routine later.

 

Please remember to make sure your child is safely napping in a car seat, stroller or swing.  Do not leave your child unattended unless he is in a safe environment and secure in his seat.  Although napping on-the-go is not ideal, you can still get quality sleep for your child during a busy day by watching for sleep cues, getting them safely secure in their car seat or stroller,  and providing them with a safe quiet environment for them to gently fall asleep.

 

If you have experienced a similar situation or have had success, please share your story on The Sleep Lady’s Facebook page.  Supporting each other makes parenting so much easier!

Kim West
Kim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 24 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. She is the author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night Sleep Tight, its companion Workbook and 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies. Click here to read more about her.

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