If you've ever sang wildly in the car or yelled things like, "We're almost home, baby, stay awake for Mama please," you know the fear of figuring out what to do if your baby falls asleep in the car seat. The dreaded car-nap is no one's favorite, but especially for you, when you've got eighteen bags of groceries to get in the house and you know that your kid is never going to sleep at bedtime.
But it's not just a cranky baby that makes you panic about a car seat nap — car seats aren't the best place for little ones to sleep. A 2015 study in The Journal of Pediatrics found that out of 47 deaths of children under the age of 2, two-thirds of the deaths occurred in a car seat. Of course, that doesn't mean your child can never fall asleep in a car seat — it's bound to happen. You just need to know what to do if your baby does take a snooze in one.
What to Expect noted that the trick is to keep an eye on your baby — they should never be left unsupervised. You should also be sure that you are using the car seat per the manufacturers' guidelines, like keeping the straps buckled and having the car seat on a firm surface.
But according to CNN, the best possible thing you can do if your baby falls asleep in the car seat is to take them out of it, even if you know that means they're losing a nap in the process. It's not like your child is never going to sleep again. If you can master the fine art (and I mean fine art) of transferring your baby to their crib, that's even better.
I know that doesn't sound fun, but when you consider your child's nap schedule, you may find that waking them from a car nap isn't the end of the world. Parents suggested that babies between 0 to 4 months old need seven to nine hours of napping time while babies between 4 and 12 months old only need four to five hours of napping time. If you know your little one has already logged enough sleep for the day, wake them up. If this particular car seat nap is crucial, then it's best to put them in their crib to finish it up.
In the future, setting a schedule up for naps helps. Although it might mean planning your errands around your baby's sleep habits, at least you can eliminate the chances of your little one passing out two minutes into a car ride as much as you can. There are few things worse than a baby waking up from a 15 minute car nap and determining that was all the sleep they needed for the day. Parents recommended avoiding car trips within 30 minutes of their nap time and employing every tactic you can to keep your baby awake if they start getting drowsy, like singing loudly or getting your older children to help keep the baby alert.