Did you know it is actually acceptable a baby to nap in a baby carrier? Over the last month we have learned a lot working with Meg O’Leary, Infant & Child Sleep Consultant at A Restful Night. Not only did she help us sleep train Arbor, but she also taught us how to master the carrier nap!
What is a carrier nap?
A carrier nap is a planned period of time in which your baby sleeps in a carrier. When Arbor was a newborn she slept in the baby carrier A LOT at her own leisure. Now that she is older, we schedule carrier naps into our day when we need them most.
One of the most important parts of sleep training is making sure your baby naps for an age appropriate amount of time during the day. Before working with Meg, Arbor only slept for thirty minute increments swaddled in an unsafe insert in her crib. Aside from learning all about safe sleep practices, Meg instructed us on how to extend her naps to 60-90 minute increments. She also taught us what to do if she woke early, fell asleep in the car, or needed a cat nap in the evening.
How to Use a Carrier for Baby Naps
Have you wondered: “Is it safe for a baby to nap in a carrier?” Like all baby sleep scenarios, there are important tips, tricks and safety measures to consider before trying anything out. The following baby carrier napping tips are from Meg O’Leary. Here is your Baby Carrier Nap 101:
1. Safety is a priority. The best way for your baby to sleep is alone, on their back in a crib. When you are using a carrier or baby wrap or sling you want to ensure you’ve read all instructions, are wearing your baby properly to eliminate any risks, particularly obstruction of airway.
Note: Babywearing will not affect your baby sleeping in the crib.
2. Set your baby up for a successful nap. If you are really hoping for your baby to get sleep, set them up for success! Make sure they are well fed, they have ample age appropriate wake time (see graphic below), and you give them some space and privacy to fall asleep.
3. Create a good environment. This may mean taking a 10 minute walk alone to get them fully asleep before rejoining your family. Use a portable sound machine (we love this one) in your pocket. If your baby takes a pacifier – go ahead and give it to them to signal sleep at the start of your walk.
4. Time it right. Start your carrier nap 15 minutes before you are aiming for your little one to fall asleep. Meaning if you are looking for a 30 minute cat nap from 4:30-5:00 pm, start your walk or put your baby in the carrier around 4:15pm so they have some time to get cozy and fall asleep.
5. Manage your expectations. Some carrier naps go great, some are a struggle! It’s important to manage your expectations when you’re on the go or trying to sneak in a nap. If you are putting a lot of pressure on your baby going to sleep, odds are it will be a short or unsuccessful nap. Babies can feel your energy — especially when you are contact / carrier napping.
NOTE: We love the Baby Bjorn Baby Carriers because they come in a variety of sizes to grow with baby and fabrics/designs for comfort and lifestyle.
Mastering the Baby Carrier Nap
“Carrier naps are great options for newborns and infants. Not only does it allow the parent to be mobile and hands free but your baby will feel secure and comforted by your physical connection.” – Meg O’Leary Infant & Child Sleep Consultant at A Restful Night
When it is all said and done, baby carrier naps can be beneficial for both baby AND Mom. I get a lot done around the house if she is refusing a crib nap, but will sleep in the carrier. My husband likes to be able to wear her for a nap too if we are away from home and a crib.
Note: If you are worried about safe baby wearing practices there are SO many baby-wearing support groups on Facebook. Just search Baby-wearing 101. Don’t forget to check the baby carrier brand’s social media account for tutorials and videos on how to wear your baby. Here is an example of how to wear a baby by Baby Bjorn.
Looking for more sleep tips? Check out How to Have a Successful Stroller Nap by Meg O’Leary or Book a Complimentary Sleep Consultation with Meg!
Wake Windows for Babies
How long should your baby be awake between sleep sessions? The 0 to 2 months wake window is very short while the 15 to 18 months wake window is very long. Don’t be confused by baby wake windows, save this graphic for quick reference.