Maybe you know that the AAP recommends putting your baby to sleep on his back. But what do you do when your baby only naps in the stroller? This article explores what experts say on this topic.
Why do babies love sleeping in a stroller?
The answer is a simple one:
It feels like they’re back in the womb. There’s that gentle rocking motion while being safely tucked in under a blanket. Add in some white noise from the environment and the sound of wheels over the floor or pavement, and you have the best recipe for nodding off.
However, there’s a downside. Babies who like to fall asleep in the stroller have a lighter sleep than babies who fall asleep in a stationary crib. They’re also crankier and harder to put down at night.
Is it safe for babies to sleep in a stroller?
Although strollers can be quite comfy for your little one and act as an amazing alternative to a crib, they are not meant for a full night’s sleep.
Nothing compares to the comfort and security a crib offers to a child. There’s always the risk of your baby falling out or the stroller tipping over from the baby’s shifting.
One study published in the journal Pediatrics reviewed a registry of more than 10,000 infant deaths that occurred during sleep. According to their findings, around 3% of those infant deaths happened in sitting devices: car seats (60%), swings (35%), and strollers (5%).
However, sometimes sleeping in a stroller is unavoidable. If this happens, there are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind.
The first tip is never to leave your baby in the stroller unobserved. Always be nearby and keep an eye on your little one.
The second tip is to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Use any seatbelts or restraints that come with the stroller. If the stroller is second-hand, don’t forget to see if there is an active recall in the United States on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
What are the cons of sleeping in a stroller?
Here’s an interesting fact:
Newborns don’t have a fully developed circadian rhythm. For the first few months of life, their sleep schedules are all over the place. They can be awake at night and sleep throughout the day. You’ll find them falling asleep in your arms, in the car, and the stroller.
But once they turn six months, their circadian rhythm starts to form. In other words, their daytime naps begin to affect their ability to sleep at night.
Babies who can self-soothe during naps have an easier time sleeping throughout the night. If they are falling asleep in the stroller, they’re not self-soothing. Quite the contrary, they’re developing negative sleep associations where they get used to being rocked or moved as they fall asleep. The same thing applies to babywearing and mechanical swings and bouncers.
If your child doesn’t have nighttime sleep issues, good for you! Naps in the stroller may work just fine for your family.
But if you notice cues such as short naps, late-afternoon meltdowns, trouble falling asleep, and difficulty sleeping through the night, it’s time to transition to a crib-based nap schedule.
Another downside is that sleeping in such devices can lead to flattening of the skull in some children. If this happens to a child, a helmet might be necessary to fix the issue. You can read more information here.
What is the AAP’s recommendation on sleeping in a stroller?
According to the American Association of Pediatricians (AAP), a flat and empty crib containing no blankets, bumpers, or stuffed animals is the safest environment for a baby.
In case your baby falls asleep in the stroller, transfer him to a firm surface on his back as soon as possible.
What should you do if your baby only naps in the stroller?
If your baby only naps in the stroller, break them of this habit as soon as possible so that the entire family gets the best sleep it can get.
- Step 1: Get your baby on a consistent schedule. Make sure he wakes up, takes his naps, and goes to sleep at night at the same time.
- Step 2: Do what you usually do to get him to fall asleep at naptime and bedtime, regardless if that means pushing him in the stroller.
- Step 3: After a week, try putting him down in his crib instead. His body will be expecting sleep, so he’ll nod off more easily without needing any motion.
To sum up
The thought of making changes to your baby’s sleep can seem intimidating and frightening. But if you’re dealing with a bad sleeper, it’s critical. Not only that sleeping in the stroller can lead to SIDS and flattening of the skull, but it can also mess up your child’s schedule and self-soothing ability. Even if the task seems challenging at the moment, try to remember that it’s only temporary. Soon, your little one will learn to sleep better, and so will your entire family.
Sleep training a baby who lacks self-soothing skills can get challenging for some parents, and you may need help from an expert to get it done right. An experienced sleep trainer can make the process easier for both the parent and the child. Connect with us today and get a personalized plan for your baby. I’ll be there to guide you every step of the way.