Does My Baby’s Lunchtime Nap Need To Be At Home?

lunchtime nap in the pram, stroller, buggy. Naps on the go

One question I get asked really often is if sleep training, or working naps in the cot/crib, means that all naps need to happen at home.

There is also sometimes a misconception that having a routine with your baby, or toddler, means that you lose flexibility and that you’ll spend each day stuck in a rigid timetable.

So let’s start by saying, a routine can be both predictable and flexible at the same time.

You don’t need to be trapped in the house and clockwatching, but you can also use your routine to shape your day and decide when is the best times for you and your little one to get out and about.

Let’s start by talking about sleep quality… talk some more about routine, and balancing how you can making plans for your day whilst still keeping sleep on track.

All Sleep Counts...

Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge that the concept of “sleep anywhere” is entirely valid and sleep on the go can be just as restorative as sleep in a cot.

Babies don’t necessarily need to nap in a perfectly quiet, dimly lit room every time. Some won’t have any problem falling asleep outside – and seem to prefer the fresh air and background noise. But that’s not necessarily true for every baby.

What Works For Your Baby?

Generally speaking ‘all sleep counts’, so whether a nap happens in their cot, in your arms, in a sling or in the buggy then it can still be a restorative, good quality nap.

That said, every baby, and toddler, is different. Some are much more adaptable to changes in when and where they nap, and others need some more consistency to sleep well.

Many factors, including their temperament, age, and if they are going through any changes in their sleep needs or development, will play a part in how changes to their routine affect them.

Your baby might need a darker, quiet space to sleep well, or they sleep just as well (or better) in their buggy or stroller.

They might cope really well if their nap is shorter, later or earlier than usual some days or it might leave them tired and grumpy for the rest of the day.

Download Your Free Nap Transitions Guide

Learn the signs that your little one is ready to drop a nap and how to approach it.

Download Your Free Nap Transitions Guide

Learn the signs that your little one is ready to drop a nap and how to approach it.

Practice & Consistency Can Help Improve Sleep

For some families, working on at least one nap per day at home in their cot can actually help to consolidate night  time sleep, especially if you are currently working on creating more of a predictable routine, and improving night wakes. (If you’re looking for help making sleep changes, then check out our online courses which are the perfect step-by-step guide to better sleep).

It gives them a chance to practice being in their own sleep space. Each time you put them in there, it’s a learning opportunity.

Your Baby, Your Way

I always say ‘you are your baby’s expert’. You can don’t need to feel constrained by a routine or follow ‘rules’ that don’t feel right to you or make you feel limited.

You can meet your baby’s sleep needs and find a balance for where and how their naps happen that works for both of you.

What works for one family may not work for another, and that’s perfectly okay.

Some parents and babies thrive on the consistency of napping at home in the cot, while others find freedom and convenience in taking naps on the move.

If you are happier getting out and about, then its always ok for your baby to nap outside of your home. 

If a nap on the go means they didn’t sleep too well, then you can catch up the next day. You can mix up your approach and be flexible.

So Where Should the Lunchtime Nap Happen? At Home or Out?

For many babies, it tends to work well for the middle-of-the-day nap to be the longest. And of course, once they drop down to one nap, this will be the only one they take.

As it is the longest nap of the day, it tends to be the one that can affect the flow of the day and night time sleep the most if it goes off track.

So, this tends to be the one that most families I work with take at home on most days.

Many babies nap better at home in their familiar cot, surrounded by their familiar sleep environment (darkness, their usual bedding etc). But on the other hand, others may nap really well out and about, whether it’s in a pram during a stroll or snuggled close in a sling while running errands.

Ultimately, the key is to tune into your baby’s cues and preferences while also considering your own lifestyle and needs.

If your little one seems content and well-rested after napping out and about, then by all means, embrace it. Conversely, if they thrive on the consistency of napping at home, there’s no need to feel pressured to change.

Whether it’s at home or on the move, the most important thing is ensuring that your little one gets the rest they need to thrive and grow. And that you get to meet your own needs for rest, and activity, too!

Ready For Better Sleep?

Join 45,000+ parents who have helped their baby’s and toddler’s sleep better with our instant access sleep courses. Created by Infant Sleep Consultants so you can have more predictable naps, easier bedtimes and a more settled night’s sleep.

Ready For Better Sleep?

Join 45,000+ parents who have helped their baby’s and toddler’s sleep better with our instant access sleep courses. Created by Infant Sleep Consultants so you can have more predictable naps, easier bedtimes and a more settled night’s sleep.