Lucky Mom

Jul. 23, 2007

Keeping Babies Awake In The Car - a.k.a. Nap At Home

Parents: tell me I’m not the only one who is constantly looking for new and improved ways to keep my infant awake the last 5-10 minutes of a car ride when you are racing home to get said infant down for mom’s two hour break a nap.

(Now, sadly, if you are lucky enough to receive the nap period, it's actually filled with rushed laundry tasks, kitchen duty, chores, bill paying, food preparation and if productivity is on your side and no one has called you for which you accidentally answered, a shower might be in the cards.)

So, it’s extremely critical and can determine the entire day’s outcome IF baby does NOT drift off in the car for even a 3 minute power nap.

For some reason, baby’s power naps only need to be about 2-3 minutes and then they revert to the Nap Refusal System or NRS. If one dares allow that 2-3 minute baby power nap in the car, your day is completely ruined.

So, I do what any sane parent driving a car with power windows does (right?) and that is when you see baby start nodding off, you must immediately lower and raise the window in order to waken the nodding baby.

Unfortunately this only works for a short time period (they catch on and get bored) so you have to open and close the window just long enough to provide sleep depriving entertainment. (and hope wind is on your side and blows forcibily into your babe's face).

I’ve also installed the hanging window shade which can add another 1-2 minutes of distraction. (one additional bonus minute, if baby can pull it off onto her lap). Another one-two minute bonus MAY occur if baby is teething and must place shade into mouth.

Any other ideas out there besides singing, turning on air conditioning really, really high, annoyingly tapping finger nail onto back of car seat (mine is still facing backward so I can reach) and if in a safe place to drive erratically, actually reaching back and slapping gently tapping baby on head?

I could use some new innovative ideas!

9 Comments Posted (Add Yours)


OMG!! That is truly funny my friend. You had me laughing hard. You really get quite the visual!! Although mine are 10 and 12 (and present entirely new and different issues) I remember the day... SIGH..... Ha! Love it! Miss you too. I swear I am booking the "said ticket" soon. : )


Seeing how I am asleep before the car pulls out of the driveway, I've no idea how to keep a baby awake! I'd be snuggled right up beside her! I'm on her side...let the kid sleep for heaven's sake! You had her, you can suffer :)


OK, so here's what I always did: If baby is asleep in the carseat when I get home, I gently remove the carseat and bring it inside and gently set it down on the couch/floor/wherever is safe and then I either take my nap or do my bills, dishes, laundry, whatever etc...WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT UNBUCKLE THE BABY!!!!! She is safe enough in the carseat and obviously sleeping just fine there. As long as you don't leave her in the car to sleep, you're not doing anything illegal or irresponsible by leaving her buckled up and letting her sleep in the carseat. That's just my opinion, hope you get it worked out!

Smiles, Kerri


Kerri, yes good tip but I forgot to add my pup is alredy out of her infant seat and into the convertible....


Hey Kristine!
Funny, I'm thrilled when my 2.5 year old is asleep in the car because that is the only way he goes to sleep "independently" these days! If not, we spend 1 hour a day reinforcing "you sleep in your bed, mommy sleeps in her bed," and so on... Maybe it has to do with the fact I still let him use a pacifier (yikes!) to sleep at home... with that sucker (hee!) in, he sleeps soundly through the transfer. I also cover his head in blanket shroud so he does not wake up to all of the exciting things that happen in our neighborhood. I must look like a nut carrying his 38 lbs in the house!


Hi Kristine-
Isn't that so true!!!! I swear my baby only needs a one minute power nap to revert to the NRS. It's amazing what a power nap will do for a 6 month old. I have learned to sing very loud but sometimes that doesn't even work. I will have to try the window thing. And, even in the infant seat my baby wont stay asleep unless we are in the car and moving. Good luck!!!


You are very right! I actually tapped into this page because I am googling how to avoid this exact problem -- I really want my 9 month old son to get better naps during the day, and if he sleeps in his car seat, it just doesn't happen. Unfortunately, except for taking him on errands only immediately after he naps (which isn't always realistic), I have no ideas outside our yours.


Wow this is so true! I do the exact same things to try to keep my baby awake! It sux so much because it is such chaos trying to do these things while driving that it makes me not want to take my toddler anywhere unless it's after her nap. But I want to go out in the morning- aaah!


I am writing a report on this issue and your article is very helpful and informative.

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