Yes, it’s possible and healthy to teach your baby to sleep in places other than their cot. If you sit at home all day everyday so that your baby can take every single nap in their cot you might (probably will) go bonkers.
So how can it work? You might have tried it before and it failed. I hear it a lot "my baby won't sleep in their pram". It's also something people ask me before they engage in my services because many people don't want to hear from a Sleep Consultant that they must stay home for the entire duration of their sleep plan. It's only fair for you to want the best of both worlds right? You want your baby to sleep well but you also want to be able to enjoy yourself and look after your own needs. Some days you just need to get things done and it's hard to get things done if you can't leave the house. I hear you from all the way over here.
I encourage my clients to get out. I don't encourage you to be out all day every day, but I do encourage you to do a pram nap out of the house regularly. We can only take being isolated at home with a baby for so long before we start to go a little crazy. I will be one of the first people to tell you that YOU MUST GET OUT AND ABOUT and encourage your babe to have a nap out of the house to. Cot naps are more restorative but it's about finding a healthy balance.
My boys have pram napped in all sorts of places. I went away last winter and was holding on dearly to Jude's pram naps. He was 2 years and still napping out and about nicely while I was strolling NYC. Our holiday was easier because I was able to do lunches out and enjoy in the activities with my husband and 4 year old which I wouldn't have been able to do if Jude didn't sleep while out. He stayed in his usual routine the entire holiday (apart from the air travel) and we had a little system going of one day staying in the accommodation for his nap and one day having his nap out in the pram (balance).
So how do you do this? Below you can read my TIPS on getting out and about with a baby or a napping toddler.
Tip 1 - Teach your baby from a young age to sleep in places other than at home. Do this from the beginning and your baby will get used to this from a young age. Walk around the block, go to the coffee shop or stroll the shops. Whatever your heart desires.
Tip 2 - Timing is the most critical thing for success with napping out of the house.
Poorly timed - baby is put down in the pram too early when their nap isn't due. They spend too much time laying about in the pram before they are due to sleep that when the time comes around to sleep they don't have enough drive to sleep.
Too late - baby is kept awake longer than their ideal awake window, has become overstimulated, overtired and is having trouble settling off to sleep.
I am not talking about sleepy newborns here. For babies who are a little older I recommend popping them in the pram only 10 minutes before their nap is due, a well timed pram nap is often more successful.
Tip 3 - Don't forget the comforters. Whatever your baby would usually sleep with (dummy, comforter, blanket etc.) these must be taken with you.
Tip 4 - Cover the pram SAFELY. Remember the darker and more boring the sleep environment the better. This includes the pram as well. If your little one is able to see all of the exciting stuff going on then it's likely that they won't want to miss out on the fun.
Tip 5 - Motion. Some babies will fall asleep in the pram with the pram stationary, many won't. If your little one isn't drifting off to sleep without motion then go for a walk or give the pram a rock back and forth.
Tip 6 - If you have a pram nap fail the first few times don't get disheartened, they don't always go to plan. I always recommend to keep giving it a try even if it's just for one nap every few days or once a week.
A baby on a routine does not need to have every single nap at home in their cot, I actually encourage the opposite. As mentioned above, I don't recommend that a baby sleeps out of the house for every nap either, cot sleeps are important and for most naps this is what I recommend. But remember, BALANCE!!!! Everything needs balance. Napping out and about isn't so much about your baby, it's about YOU and YOU are important as well.
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