Does your baby or toddler nap well at home, but not elsewhere? If you’d like your baby or toddler to nap well at friends, family, or hotels then this post will help.
You decide to go to a mom’s group. Or a family member’s home. Or a friend’s house.
You decide you’ll put the baby down as normal and give yourself a chance to visit and relax.
You put the baby down.
The baby fights sleep.
The baby cries.
You pick up the baby.
Now the baby is tired and fussy and you are no longer having fun.
And you are trying to roll a stroller around to get the baby to sleep and so you may as well be at home since, really, the whole reason you wanted to get out was because you never leave the house.
Ahh…. I’ve been there. At times, you can just hang out and not put your baby to sleep, of course. But if the baby is used to sleeping and you are away from home for a long time, he will need to nap eventually.
And so when that time comes, here are some tips to help your baby (or toddler) nap well elsewhere.
28 Things To Do If Baby Won’t Sleep CHECKLIST
Here’s a handy dandy list of 28 things to try so baby will stop fighting sleep and sleep longer and later.
Here are some tips on how to get your baby or toddler to sleep at someone else’s house
(Note: I don’t think it’s a great idea to put a baby down on a bed, even surrounded by something to prevent them from falling.
If you don’t have something like a play pen – that I mentioned in this post about using one baby item 8 ways – then I’d recommend putting them straight on the floor.)
Nap in another room in your home as a “practice”
One tip to help create a flexible napper, is to let your baby take one nap a day, or a few times a week if they are older, in another room of the house.
Whether you put the play pen in another room or let your baby sleep in the toddler’s crib, this will help your baby acclimate to putting themselves to sleep somewhere different than the norm.
Get white noise.
White noise is a positive sleep association that is not location specific. It will also help mask any unfamiliar noises the new location may have, so there will be less unfamiliar disruption.
Don’t skip the routine.
If you normally have a long drawn out naptime routine, you may want to shorten it. However, don’t throw out the entire naptime routine because that’ll also be a positive sleep association that’ll help your baby or toddler settle down.
Daily Routine Brainstorm SHEETS
Get my cheat sheets (newborn up to elementary aged kids) and find your family’s groove. Use them for nap times, meal times, bedtimes, chore times, play times AND more!
Bring familiar objects.
One thing I always do when I want my kids to nap elsewhere is to bring a familiar blanket, pacifier, and play pen. Normally at home, I’ll put a blanket over the side of the play pen to block out light and distractions.
I’ll bring the same blanket and put it at the bottom of the play pen because then, essentially, the only thing they’re seeing different is the ceiling.
If you go to an acquaintance’s house that you hardly ever go to, baby just might not sleep.
If you go to a friend’s house once or twice a week, it will become more familiar in a way that allows baby to feel comfortable enough to sleep. Now, if baby is sleeping in your arms, they’ll sleep anywhere.
If you want to put them in a crib or stroller, certain babies may fight sleep if they are very routine oriented.
Set the scene.
I close the curtains, turn on the white noise, and change the diaper.
Earlier this summer we stayed at a beach house and the rooms were a lot brighter than the kids were used to. We just took a few towels and hung them haphazardly over the windows to make it more dim.
You can’t transform your mother-in-law’s house into a nursery clone, but you can make it dark enough, cozy enough, with familiar sounds and smells, and this will go a long way.
Mind overtiredness and overstimulation.
When napping at other peoples’ homes or locations, I usually try to put them down for nap right on time, if not a bit early.
Overtiredness + a new location = not good napping.
- Put baby to sleep before normal nap time instead of waiting until nap time because that might prevent some over tiredness.
- Try going to the other house before you’d normally put baby down, or while they’re still happy and not whiny.
Give It Time
If you are going to be somewhere all morning, give the baby or toddler have a chance to nap even if they fight it for a while.
They might resist for 10 or 15 minutes and then take a good nap.
If they are happy enough in the crib (sleeping or not) then I’ll give it a bit extra time. They also may not take a full nap, but even half a normal nap will help prevent as much over-tiredness as possible.
- Children with irregular sleep routines and durations are more tired throughout the day
- Longer sleep duration was generally associated with better body composition, emotional regulation, and growth in children aged 0 to 4 years. Shorter sleep duration is associated with longer screen time use and more injuries
- Adequate sleep in the first year is critical for optimal infant neurodevelopment