Does your child fall asleep briefly in the car and then wake up the moment you arrive home? Does he act like that ten minute snooze replaces a two-hour nap? This is common, and it makes you wonder if that catnap is really enough sleep. It’s not! And here’s why:
According to the biology of sleep, micro-naps can absolutely disrupt your child’s nap routine. When your child falls asleep for even five to ten minutes, she may wake up feeling refreshed and not be able to fall back asleep. This is because the very first stage of sleep that takes place in as little as five minutes can reduce feelings of sleepiness.
The problem with these brief micro-naps is that they can eliminate tiredness at that particular moment, but they don’t give your child the important benefits that the other sleep stages provide. Getting an adequate amount of sleep helps reduce fussiness and replenishes energy while allowing the brain to process everything it has learned that day so far. A micro-nap can’t accomplish that.
A series of days when micro-naps take the place of real naps can quickly lead to fussy, whiny days where your little one is more prone to frustration and tantrums.
Car Seat Naps
Some babies easily fall asleep in their car seat, and it’s tempting to leave there in the seat for the duration of the nap. This isn’t wise, as studies show that some babies (especially those who are newborn, premature or sick) who take long, unsupervised naps in car seats appear to be at risk for breathing blockage or SIDS.
There will be times when you’ll have a long drive and your baby will take a nice, long nap en route. This is nothing to worry about – as long as your car seat is installed correctly and inclined back enough suitable for your baby’s age (check your car seat instructions or the manufacturer’s website.) If no one is in the backseat with your baby have a mirror set up so that you can keep an eye on your child. When you can, break up a long journey so that you can stop and take your baby out of his seat from time to time when he is awake.
Avoiding Sneaky Car Naps
It can be difficult to prevent short car catnaps, but here are a few quick tips to avoid the micro-naps and give your child the quality rest that they need.
- Try to schedule your day around naptime or bedtime when possible. A quick trip to the store will probably work better after naptime anyway!
- Keep the mood in the car upbeat and entertaining. Play upbeat music, sing along, have engaging conversations, & play games.
- If your child is looking sleepy in the car, head home as soon as you can & head right up for nap once you arrive!