By Emily from Fox and the Moon Infant Sleep Services
We are saturated with sleep advice as parents, it is literally everywhere. Some of it is good advice, some of it, well, some of it is very questionable!
As a gentle and holistic sleep coach I find that one of the most asked questions I get is “how can I help my baby nap on the go?” and let’s face it, we have spent a lot of time at home over the last 18 months so it’s no surprise that some babies are preferring to sleep with no distraction at home in their cot or on you. But there are things you can do to encourage some good napping on the go.
Now before I get to that I wanted to just reassure you that it really does not matter where your baby naps if you are both happy with it. We hear a lot that babies must nap in the dark, in their cots, at home. They simply do not. In fact, before a baby hits 6 months of age it is more beneficial for them to nap in the daylight as this helps develop a baby’s circadian rhythmicity (body clock), if our children are exposed to a wide spectrum of natural daylight during the day it helps their bodies learn when to be more alert and when to rest, baby’s circadian rhythm is fully mature between the age of 4-6 months.
There has been lots of evidence recently about the positive effects napping outdoors can have on a child’s health:
- It supports immunity – when outside we encounter lots of different germs that our bodies will then produce anti-bodies for. Time spent outdoors in the winter months can reduce our chances of catching common winter illnesses just make sure your baby is dressed appropriately for those winter strolls dressing your baby in cotton layers you can take away if your little one gets too hot.
- It helps aid cognitive and physical development – when our babies are outside their nervous system receives numerous stimuli such as sounds, smells, the feeling of the wind, the warmth of the sun. Being exposed to these stimuli early on is beneficial for motor, language, and cognitive skills
- Motion naps are soothing – Babies love motion, they spent 9 months moving with the rhythm of their mother’s body so it is only natural that they sleep better in a pram or a carrier and this aids a deeper and more restorative sleep
But my baby simply will not nap on the go! Help!
Babies get a serious case of the FOMO especially when they reach around 4 months and there is an explosion of cognitive change. Here are my top tips for encouraging a nap on the go:
- Wait until your baby is showing some tired cues (these can be rubbing eyes, yawning, staring away from you, getting a bit cranky) and then head out in the pram, if you normally play white noise then a portable white noise machine may be a handy tool to have but generally the sound of the outdoors is enough to help them nod off! If you use wake windows for your babies age, then try and get your little one to nap at the end of that wake window so sufficient sleep pressure is built and they are tired enough to drop off
- Keep moving, try to keep moving while your baby is going to sleep to help with the steady motion that will be soothing them to sleep, if you need to rest, use Rockit rocker to keep the pram in motion.
- If your baby is used to sleeping in a dark environment or it is a particularly sunny day then think about investing in a produce like the SnoozeShade this is an air permeable black out blind for your pram, it also filters harmful UV rays and makes the pram darker
- If your baby is a chronic short napper (this is very common in babies from around 3-7 months and is age appropriate!) then try and keep the pram (or if you are wearing them in a carrier) moving to see if they go back off to sleep for a while longer.