Nap Sabotage


Nothing use to stress me out more than running errands, trying to get back on time for my daughter’s nap, and then literally ten minutes from my front door see her in the rear view mirror snoozing away in her car seat.

I knew in that moment, whatever I had planned to do during that precious 90-minutes of nap time, had just gone out the window.

I had just unintentionally, engaged in an act of sleep warfare moms everywhere know and experience, and what I refer to as NAP SABOTAGE!

For the majority of babies, a ten-minute snooze is just enough of a second wind to have them protest their next scheduled nap. In fact, most babies will need at least another hour of wake time, if not a full wake window, to be adequately tired for sleep again.

This means that the day will get pushed out, baby may be cranky, and bedtime will either get pushed later, or be moved significantly earlier. Not the end of the world, but certainly an unwelcome disruption to a mom, like me, who appreciates a consistent routine (not to mention has lots to accomplish during those glorious nap hours)! The fact is, life happens, so nap sabotage situations are truly inevitable. But, here’s what you can do:

  • Plan errands or stroller walks shortly after baby wakes up for the day or after her first nap. A well-rested baby is less likely to fall asleep with motion sleep.

  • Avoid having baby in the car or stroller 45 to 60 minutes prior to his next scheduled nap.

  • If you do see baby snoozing in the car seat close to naptime, and you have an older child in the back seat, see if your older child can wake her with tickles or interaction.

  • If alas, your baby falls asleep in the stroller or car seat, and there’s nothing you can do, then you have a couple options: Continue to drive or walk around for an hour or so to ensure that baby has at least a 60 minute nap. Or, try and transfer your baby to his crib once you get home. Just a warning though – car seat to crib transfers are tricky and most babies are not receptive to them!

  • Pro Tip: What worked well for us when my daughter fell asleep in the car was to drop my husband at home while I circled the block, inside he got her room ready by closing the curtains and turning on the sound machine, and then would meet me out front to whisk her upstairs into her crib with as little fumbling as possible.

Finally, if all else fails, and your child’s naps are jilted by a day of nap sabotage, just opt for an earlier bedtime, know that tomorrow is a new day, and you will get right back on track.

Caroline helps exhausted moms and dads get their babies and toddlers sleeping through the night. Schedule a free 15-minute consultation to see if we might be a fit to work together.

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