5 Wrong Ways to Take Car Naps
Updated: Nov 13, 2021
If you're getting less than one sleep cycle (45min), or you've failed at the car seat transfer or your child cries hysterically instead of sleeping in the car seat, then your car naps are NOT giving you success.
When Are Car Naps Appropriate for Baby
Car naps are an important part of the family life. I'm not denying that naps are most effective when they're in the same place or environment every time (ie. the crib). But I'm privy to know that families cannot 100% of the time schedule their life around a baby's nap. This is especially true if there are two little ones under five years old in one household! Families have places to be, siblings to chauffeur and people to meet, so some naps surely do need to be in the car.
A child who cannot nap in the car when they really need to, is going to leave you with a very fussy baby or toddler. Long car rides or the occasional late night event are perfect examples of times when a child should take advantage of those car naps. But here's a fair warning, having your child take too many naps in the car can lead to car naps becoming a sleep prop. Moderation and balance is key.
Frequent Mistakes with Naps in the Car
1. Conflict with naptime
Choose events or activities that result in your child either sleeping on the car ride there, or sleeping in the stroller once arrived. In my experience, car rides are usually more conducive to bring on sleep. When parents schedule appointments poorly, what they're hoping is that their child will TRANSFER WELL, but for the majority of parents, that rarely works out. What you end up with is a cranky child who wants to throw a tantrum at the first opportune moment.
2. No shade cover
Try sleeping with the full blaring sun in your eye, and tell me how comfortable that must be. It's a no brainer, but the sun-cover tends to get skipped over all too easily.
3. Parked car
Keep driving. If you've made the choice to be on the road at naptime, it comes with a (gas tank) price. More common than not, parking the car wakes the child up from their nap. Plan ahead and go for a drive, run a few more errands, but don't go home and park the car hoping your very exhausted child continues to sleep when the lulling car motion comes to a standstill.
4. Lack of practice
Sleep consultants will always tell you to put your child to sleep always in the crib. But by withholding car naps from your child 100% of the time, it's going to put you in quite the pickle when you have schedule conflicts and actaully need your baby sleeping in the car seat.
5. No lovie
Not all children love the car seat. Some more than others. When there's no familiarity, no comfort, sleep isn't likely to come without first a big session of tears. You can either bring the same lovie they use in their crib, or have a lovie that is always kept in the car. Keep in mind, lovies should only be used for children ages 1+.