When your baby doesn’t sleep through the night, you don’t either. For many parents, the only way to get little ones snoozing is by taking a soothing drive. My guess is that you need to understand if driving is OK for your baby. But more importantly, you probably are wondering how to stop the habit!
Why Does Your Baby Prefer Sleeping In the Car?
If your baby always falls asleep in the car, they most likely have a sleep association and the car is the way to get them to sleep. Your baby enjoys the motion (no different from a swing or rocking) and car noises are very comforting for your little one.
Research done in the UK estimates that new parents drive over 1,300 miles trying to send their children to dreamland.
I always joked that my daughter just had to look at the car and she fell asleep. So yes, I was one of those parents that drove around trying to get a nap on a day when I knew we really needed one. (Hey, no judgment – this is before I was a sleep consultant).
What I’m trying to say is that if you only can get your child to nap in the car – it’s because your child is craving that motion.
Why Is the Car Soothing?
Babies fall asleep in the car because it is similar to the environment they inhabited in the womb. Some babies are lulled by the vehicle’s motion, while for others it’s the background noise. Either way, there are a few good methods that can save you from another midnight drive!
Car Sleeping Safety
Since you’re driving a lot, you’ll want to make sure you have all your bases covered for child safety in your vehicle. Periodically stop at the auto mechanic to check belts, brakes, tires, and anything else to make sure everything is running smoothly. Check your child’s position often to make sure he can breathe properly. Car seats can be dangerous if slept in for too long. Always end sleepy trips with putting your child down in his crib.
Using a rocking chair, rocking your child in your arms, or even purchasing a baby swing are less expensive alternatives to driving around all night. These methods of soothing work in much the same way a night ride does to soothe your infant before bed.
Just make sure know that rocking, swinging and bouncing are sleep associations and you may eventually have to break the habit.
Very young babies respond well to the noise of a car ride because it reminds them of the gentle noise of the womb. You can find plenty of white noise soundtracks online designed especially for babies, or you could use the sound of the vacuum cleaner as a way to get chores done and keep your baby asleep.
Always use a white noise machine that can be plugged in for continuous use. (And in case you’re wondering, using white noise is not dangerous!)
Most adults remember learning the alphabet or how to ride a bike, but none of us remember learning how to fall asleep. Nevertheless, falling asleep on his own is something every baby needs to learn. Babies as young as 4-6 months old can benefit from sleep training, practiced by a sleep consultant who works with your family to help little ones learn to drift off by themselves.
Whichever of these methods you use, you’ll be saving time and money–and you won’t be out on the road exhausted. And if you’re not using the car every time, your child may get better at falling asleep on his own. Sweet dreams to both you and your little one!