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The Dreaded "Car Nap": What It Is and 5 Ways To Avoid It

The Dreaded Car Nap and 5 Ways To Avoid It | via Lauren Hartmann at BabbleIn my pre-mom days I had heard parents talk about car naps with mixed emotions. Some parents seemed to love when their kids would take a car nap while others seemed to hate it.

When Fern was a tiny baby, I used to think car naps were a godsend.  What easier way could there possibly be to get your baby to nap? But now that she’s a little bit older I’ve changed my tune.

There’s something about a car nap that transcends space and time and for some reason a three minute car nap seems like a three hour regular nap, which means that if Fern falls asleep in the car now – even for just a few minutes – on our way home, I can forget about her getting another nap for the rest of the day. She has literally fallen asleep at the end of our street before and then woken up a little less than one minute later when we arrived in the driveway looking awake, refreshed and ready to take on the day – at least until dinnertime when it’s total meltdown city.  And from what I’ve heard from other parents this is not an uncommon phenomenon.

Nowadays I avoid these car naps at all costs, because I really value Fern’s nap time as a work from home mom, because it’s the only time I can really get any work done. I’ve learned that it’s best to not schedule anything too close to nap time, but there are times when it’s simply unavoidable and in those situations I’ve come up with a few things that help to keep my baby awake until we can make it home for her to take an actual nap.

Check out my car nap avoidance techniques after the jump!


  • 1. Talk, talk, talk 1 of 5
    1. Talk, talk, talk
    Tell your baby a story, recite the Gettysburg address, or talk about your stock portfolio. Your baby doesn't care what you talk about so long as you do it in an animated voice that will help keep them interested and awake.
  • 2. Sing songs 2 of 5
    2. Sing songs
    Pull out your best rendition of "The Wheels On the Bus" or "Call Me Maybe" - babies love being sung to and maybe your little one will join in and make you feel less silly. Either way, it'll be worth it to avoid the car nap.
  • 3. Pull out the bells and whistles 3 of 5
    3. Pull out the bells and whistles
    My baby loves shiny, light-up, sound-making toys even though I'm not such a fan. As a compromise I reserve these toys for car emergencies...like car nap avoidance. I hand over her favorite light up toy and she's happy as a clam, pushing buttons and listening to obnoxious baby tunes all the way home and I'm happy because she'll still take a real nap later.
  • 4. Bring snacks 4 of 5
    4. Bring snacks
    Eating in the car obviously isn't an option for tiny babies, but my little one is old enough that I can hand her some dried seaweed to gnaw on while we drive. Those little dissolvable puffs are good too and provide a great distraction.
  • 5. Hand over the water 5 of 5
    5. Hand over the water
    For some reason my baby thinks water is the best thing since sliced bread. She likes to play in it, look at it, listen to its sounds and drink it. Handing her a sippy cup of water in the car is a perfect way to keep her engaged during the tail end of a car trip.
    Photo via iStockphoto

 

Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland Oregon. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook, or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble.

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