Navigating day sleep amongst busy schedules and day trips can be really challenging. With some practice and armed with these tips from sleep expert Imogen Russell you should be well on your way to more peaceful daytime sleep!
On-the-Go Nap Guide
By Imogen Russell, Founder of The Little Sleep Company
Take the pressure off
First and foremost, try to take the pressure off when heading out. Naps may look a little different whilst on the go as there are far more environmental stimuli that may disrupt your child’s sleep. Some little people just struggle with on the go naps and that’s okay. You can and should still be able to leave the house for both chores and enjoyment!
Knowing the amount of day sleep your child needs may be useful if you currently have poor naps on the go. Whilst every child is different, this can be a helpful indicator of if your child is under or over tired which could be preventing naps.
Often families choose to have at least one nap at home to ensure that they have achieved some sleep in a more familiar environment. It is completely up to you which nap this may be, however I often find that a well-timed first nap can be one of the more contented settles. This can help take the pressure off, so perhaps a morning coffee with a friend could be a good option for you if this is your little one.
So, you’ve prepared the nappy bag, but remember to prepare yourself too!
Make sure you have packed things to meet your physical needs but also remember to prepare emotionally. It may feel stressful when navigating a trip out with a baby, here are some quick tips
- Take your time and plan to take some breaks for feeds and changes if you are head out for the day.
- Try not to worry about forgetting things, you can almost always find a shop with the basics should you need an emergency nappy or wipes.
- Remember your self-regulation techniques to be able to calm yourself when things become overwhelming, this not only helps you but also your baby.
- Consider having an escape plan or a friend to meet if you need a moment to just reset.
- Head out with a friend or relative the first few trips if you feel you would like some support managing little ones.
- There are often lots of groups that may meet locally, this is a great way to build a network and connect with other parents going through the same experience.
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Little people’s preferences
Some children naturally prefer to sleep in their prams, whilst others are more resistant. Those naturally inquisitive children may really want to watch the world go by and this is okay! To accommodate this, you may need to find a quiet spot at the back of a little café or walk in the park in order to get away from distractions. Practice makes perfect, its okay to try for 15 minutes and then allow them to be up for a short time before trying again. As you continue to go out this may get easier as they become more accustomed to falling asleep like this.
Sensory avoidant children become overstimulated by lots of external noise and sensation. For these children using tools such as white noise and a pram shade (10% discount available here) can be useful. You may need to be more patient with these children and head out for more frequent shorter trips to become accustomed.
For both of these types of little ones, creating a good sleep environment is key. Practice sleeping at home in the pram can also help, along with walks at nap times to become accustomed to their on the go sleep environment.
Understanding your child’s sleepy cues is also a great place to start, as this way you can be more attuned when on the go to their needs.
Keep trying even if it’s a bit of a struggle, with compassionate and responsive care you can work towards this goal.
My Top Tips
- Create a familiar sleep environment: Bring along items that your baby associates with sleep, such as a favourite blanket, stuffed animal, or dummy. These familiar items can provide comfort and help signal to your baby that it’s time to sleep, even in a different setting.
- Use their pram or carrier: A pram or baby carrier can provide a cosy and secure place for your baby to sleep while you’re out and about. Make sure the baby is supported and is comfortable.
- Create a soothing environment: Minimise distractions and create a peaceful environment for your baby. Shield them from bright lights and loud noises by using a canopy, a nursing cover, or a muslin cloth. Playing soft, soothing music or using white noise can also help drown out environmental noises.
- Practice sleep associations: Engaging in calming activities before sleep, such as reading a book, singing a lullaby, or gently rocking your baby, these cues can signal that it’s time to wind down and sleep.
- Be mindful of temperature: Ensure your baby is dressed appropriately for the weather. Overheating or being too cold can disrupt sleep. Dress your baby in comfortable, breathable clothing, and consider using a light blanket or a sleep sack to regulate their temperature.
- Maintain some routine: Maintaining sleep routine can help your baby recognise when it’s time to sleep, even in a different environment. Try to follow the same sequence of activities before naptime or bedtime, such as a diaper change, feeding, and a soothing activity. By working with your baby’s natural sleep patterns, you increase the likelihood of them falling asleep more easily.
- Be flexible and patient: Keep in mind that not every attempt to put your baby to sleep in public will be successful. Be patient and adaptable, and understand that babies’ sleep patterns can vary. If your baby doesn’t fall asleep, try to provide a calm and soothing environment, and perhaps they’ll rest more easily during subsequent attempts.
- Check out my Free Naps on The Go Guide covering the topic in more detail!
Remember, every baby is different, and what works for one may not work for another. It’s essential to observe your baby’s cues and adapt these tips to suit their individual needs.
If you need further support with this or other sleep related challenges you are facing don’t hesitate to contact me.
The Little Sleep Company offers compassionate and science-based sleep support for tired families on a 1:1 basis. I work with families from pre-birth until 5 years, supporting child and caregiver health, promoting attachment and biological best practice which has hugely positive implications on physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Alongside this, I deliver in-person group sessions in educational settings, and workplaces, delivering packages for businesses to support working parents. Find me on Instagram or head to my website to find out more about my services.