We have travelled a lot this summer. When you live in Northern Ontario it is pretty safe to say any car trip is going to be a long one. Chances of your trip interfering with your nap time is pretty good. Generally my advice for travelling is to try and ensure a good crib nap before you hit the road, but if your trip is long enough there is a good chance your child may need a car nap.
Car naps are challenging for a few reasons. For one, it is hard to get it dark enough in the car to encourage melatonin production. Second, any stop and go traffic will make it difficult to keep your child asleep. It can be hard to reproduce your pre nap routine nicely and it can be hard for your child’s body to realize it is nap time.
While your baby may sleep for a long time in the car they don’t necessarily reap all the benefits of that nap that they would have if they were in their crib or a stationary sleep environment. Sleep during motion can prevent your body from getting into the deeper more restorative stages of sleep. This is why we try to avoid car naps whenever possible.
What if you can’t avoid a car nap?
If you can’t avoid travelling during nap time I would suggest to aim for an early bedtime when you arrive at your destination. This will help your baby to catch up on some of the good quality sleep they missed out on during the day. Also keep in mind to count your travel days as one of your 80/20 days when following the 80/20 rule. Pair this off day up with a couple of “on schedule” days when you arrive at your destination.
A well rested baby is better able to enjoy all the activities that you want to do on your holiday/time away from home so do make time for naps and good sleep whenever possible.