It’s perfectly normal for babies, especially newborns to nap best when they have physical contact with a parent. These kinds of naps are called ‘contact naps’ and they provide many benefits for infants, such as increasing their sleep quality by allowing for deep sleep, lowering their cortisol levels, and helping to regulate their breathing.
Contact naps can be exhausting for parents, however, who are already responding to their babies overnight for feeding and diaper changes. Many new parents use wraps and baby carriers for daytime naps. They can be the best option to allow their baby to have a contact nap while maintaining a bit more freedom to move around their house. Parents often wonder if using a carrier for nap time will affect their baby’s sleep or turn into a bad habit.
For this article, I’ve spoken with my favorite baby sleep expert, Alicia Dyshon, to answer the question: when should I stop wearing my baby for naps? We’ll review some strategies and common questions about baby wearing and napping.
Table of Contents
- When should I stop wearing my baby for naps?
- How do I transition away from wearing my baby for naps?
- How do I transfer a sleeping baby from the carrier to a crib?
- Is it safe to wear my baby for naps?
- Final thoughts on baby carriers and naps
When Should I Stop Wearing My Baby For Naps?
According to sleep consultant Alicia Dyshon, from Dyshon Family Sleep, you should stop wearing your baby for naps whenever it stops working for you or your child. You can find more information from Alicia on her website here.
Alicia has worked with families who are still wearing their child for naps as a toddler because they enjoy it. If it’s not working for you, it may be time to make a change. If using a baby carrier is the best way to ensure your baby is taking restful naps and it’s not bothering you, there is no underlying reason for change. Using a baby wrap or soft structured baby carrier can be a great way to help an overtired baby get to sleep. They can also help prevent (too) short naps by allowing your baby to nap for long stretches if baby wearing is comfortable for you.
When you’re ready to move away from naps in the carrier, consider shifting towards contact naps, or just laying with your child and then gradually move away from that over time.
There is no set time to stop baby wearing for naps.
How do I transition away from wearing my baby for naps?
If you’re trying to stop wearing your baby for naps because it’s not working for you or your baby anymore, you can try layering on some different positive sleep associations to your sleep routine in preparation for the transition. Read more about what sleep associations are in this article. Sleep associations are helpful for your bedtime routine as well as your baby’s naps.
This could look like adding in white noise, a soother, singing, or rocking/swaying while you’re wearing your baby in a carrier. Then transition to using the white noise, soother, singing etc, without the carrier while you’re just holding your baby in your arms, or using a rocking chair.
The idea is that your baby will associate these other things with being soothed to sleep, making it easier for them to fall asleep without the carrier.
Alternatively, some babies do really well with motion for their naps. You could use a stroller if going for a walk is practical for you. Using a rocking chair in your baby’s room might also help with the transition.
How do I transfer a sleeping baby from the carrier to the crib?
Sometimes the only way to get my babies and toddlers to nap has been by using a carrier. With the right sleep environment and some practice, I’ve been able to transfer my kids from a soft structured baby carrier onto their own sleeping surface. It doesn’t work ALL the time but if you practice it often, it may increase the likelihood that it will work for you. Here are some tips on how to transfer your baby from the carrier to crib:
- Use white noise
- Turn on your white noise machine while your baby is in the carrier to muffle the sounds of your movement
- Use a dark space
- Turn off the lights and use a black out blind while your baby is in the carrier
- Wait until your baby is deeply asleep
- Their breathing may change if you listen carefully
- Go slowly
- Make small slow movements to decrease the likelihood of them waking up
- Use the carrier in a front facing in position
- A back-carry position is much harder to transfer a sleeping baby out of without assistance
- After removing your carrier, remain standing or seated while holding the baby
- Pause to make sure they’re still asleep after removing them from the carrier
- Roll your baby off your body onto their own sleeping space slowly
- No sudden movements
- Practice makes perfect
- Every baby is different! Keep trying if it doesn’t work the first (or twelfth) time.
Is it safe to wear my baby for naps?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies should sleep alone on their backs on a firm, flat surface without any loose blankets, pillows, toys or other people for the greatest chance at reducing the risk of SIDS.
If your baby is refusing to nap on their own on a flat surface, it is possible to safely wear your baby for naptime. Here are some things to keep in mind for safe baby wearing:
- Stay alert
- You cannot sleep while using a baby carrier. You should check on your infant’s position often to make sure they are comfortable and breathing easily.
- Follow manufacturer’s guide for safe carrier usage
- Read your carrier’s user manual and/or watch their video tutorials on safe carrier usage.
- Follow TICKS guidelines for baby wearing
- In view at all times
- Close enough to kiss
- Keep chin off chest
- Supported back
Final thoughts on baby carriers and naps
It’s a normal thing for a new baby to seek close contact in order for their developing brain to feel safe and secure. You don’t need to feel like providing skin-to-skin contact by using your baby carrier during nap time is a sleep crutch. If it meets your immediate needs by allowing your baby’s sleep needs to be met and it’s not bothering you, there is no immediate reason to change. Baby wearing can be a good idea that allows many moms to look after older children while keeping newborn babies close.
If you’re looking for some help, Alicia offers a free 20-minute clarity call to talk more in detail about your goals for your child’s sleep and what your unique needs are. She also offers webinar courses if you’d like to take more of a do-it-yourself kind of approach. I have personally used her services with both of my children and highly recommend working with her.
Find more information about Alicia and her sleep consultation business at her website here. You can also find her on Instagram and TikTok.
This Site cannot and does not contain medical/health advice. The medical/health information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. The use or reliance of any information contained on this site is solely at your own risk.
For more about baby wearing check out these articles from Mama’s Buzz!