Strategies for Managing Baby’s Nap-times Away from Home

Once you’ve taught your sweet babe independent sleep skills, you may be wondering if you’re now supposed to stay home for every nap. Can you still have a social life, go out for the day, or visit friends and family?

How to Have an "Off Day" Nap-times on the Go With Baby

Nap-times on the Go With Baby

Teaching your little one some independent sleep skills is a life-changing accomplishment, and you should feel proud!
But now what?
Do you have to plan your entire life around your baby’s sleep schedule? The answer for the most part is yes… To maintain those long, restful naps and peaceful bedtimes, you need to carve out a schedule that accommodates your baby’s sleep needs.
This time in life is short and your baby’s sleep needs will change so much in just 1 year.
Prioritizing their sleep should be just as important as making sure they get the proper nutrition.

Think of the initial stages of sleep training as the sprint, and the months afterwards as the marathon.

Those first few nights can be overwhelming, but they’re over quickly. The real challenge is maintaining consistency over time.

Establishing a routine and sticking to it is crucial for your baby’s sleep and overall well-being.

I know first hand that it can be tough to adjust to your baby’s new schedule and fit everything else in, but it’s worth it. If you want to keep up with those great naps and bedtimes, you’ll have to honor those little windows of opportunity. Over-tiredness can wreak havoc on your baby’s sleep, with one missed nap leading to another and eventually, throwing off bedtime.

It’s true, you may miss out on some of the fun stuff sometimes, but it’s OK to deviate from the schedule sometimes and have an “off day”. You’re not chained to your baby’s crib! One day off schedule every now and then is not going to undo all the hard work you’ve done to get your baby sleeping well. The most important thing you can remember when you want to go out for the day is to think ahead about and plan for your sweet babes sleep needs.

How does prioritizing your babes sleep needs look in real life?

Imagine you’re trying to plan a play-date with a friend, but their only availability is during your baby’s scheduled nap-time.
You might consider adjusting your little one’s routine to fit in the meet-up, hoping the fun and companionship will make up for a little disruption.

Sound familiar?

But think about it: if your child is tired and grumpy during the play-date, will anyone actually have a good time?
From my experience, it usually ends in tears and fussing from both kids and parents. If you could see ahead of time that this would happen, you’d probably skip the play-date and stick to the schedule. It’s simply not worth it.

My best tips with this is to plan the playtime right after nap or if it’s a distance away, plan it so your child’s nap falls on the drive so they will be more likely to get a rest on the way. If they play hard, they might even take another nap on the way home.

If your baby is taking 2 or 3 naps per day and you’ll be out during one of the nap times, plan for at least one nap to be at home and adjust the schedule according to wake times.

Example Schedules

For example, if you had a 9 month old taking 2 naps a day at 10 and 2 with 2.5-3 hr wake windows, you could…
1. plan for nap 1 to be at home and then for nap 2 it might be in the car on the way to an appointment.
This will most likely be a shorter nap than if you were home.

Since it’s nap #2 and the next sleep time is usually bedtime, you could…

1. Offer a 3rd nap 30 min before the typical wake window is up.

2. Put them to bed 1 hr-30 min earlier. If baby is on 1 nap, I’d do everything I could to make sure they got that nap, or modify for an early bedtime.

Some days, you’ll just need to be flexible. Since you’ve put in the work and your child has those sleep skills, you can have an off day every now and then and be ok. Just be sure that most days they’re getting their regular long and restful naps and regular bedtimes.

How to Have an Off Day Nap-times on the Go With Baby 2

So what about big day trips?

When it comes to special occasions, everyone wants to have a good time, especially at a place like Disneyland or a theme park.
You might be tempted to cram in as much activity as possible, even skipping nap-time to make sure your little one doesn’t miss out on any magical moments. But have you ever looked around and noticed that for every two kids who are having a wondrous experience, there is one who is having an absolute meltdown?
It may not be evident, but they could just be overstimulated, overtired, and in need of a nap. Next time you’re visiting a theme park, take it easy and don’t forget to rest, so you and your loved ones can have the best time possible.

Here are some tips

which will help you create a sleep space on-the-go and make getting your child's nap in easier for everyone.


1. If you’re at a theme park with your sweet babe and need somewhere for them to nap, bring along a stroller or wagon and set up a cozy spot for them. Drape a light blanket over the top to block out distractions, and keep the air flowing with a small fan. If your baby is a light sleeper, you could use a mini sound machine to help them drift off to sleep. There are even sound machine apps you can download to your phone in a pinch!

2. Try to offer the nap at the usual time, but don’t worry if your little one doesn’t want to sleep. They might be too excited by all the new sights and sounds. Encouraging them to rest by placing them in a carrier or stroller and shading their eyes can help.

3. Use a baby carrier- if your baby is still small and takes to a carrier and it’s not too hot, this is a great option. Walk around, put a hat over their head or shade their eyes and offer them to nap on you.
If your baby still isn’t nodding off, don’t stress it too much. Remember, this is just one day, and one day of missed nap isn’t the end of the world. They’ll sleep when they’re ready, and you’ll be there to help them get the rest they need when they do. The important thing is that you’ve given them the opportunity to nap and made sure they have a cozy, comfortable space to rest.

With these tips, you can help ensure that your baby gets the sleep they need and you can make the most of your precious time with your loved one

What if you want to visit family or friends?

1. Plan your visit around naptime or make sure you have a vehicle available so your baby can sleep while driving. If you have a specific nap time, aim to hit the road around the same time.

2. If your baby is comfortable falling asleep on their own, you can plan for a nap at your friends’ or family’s home. This gives you a chance to take a break while your baby sleeps.

3. Don’t forget to pack items to help your baby sleep. Bring things that they associate with sleep and make them feel like they’re still at home. We pack our pack and play, a slumber pod, sound machine, sleep sack and lovie.

4. Explain to your host that nap time is really important to you and your baby’s well-being. By doing so, you’re more likely to get the space you need to put your baby down for a nap. It’s a great idea to get a slumber pod if you don’t have one.

5. During the nap routine, try to keep everything as normal as possible so that your baby feels relaxed. Take some time away from others to read a book or two with your baby, so you can calm them down before the nap.

6. If your sweet babe is anything like my son and has FOMO, then I make sure to take him away from everyone about 10 mins before the nap routine and look at some books to calm him down a bit before I put him down for a nap. This helps, but sometimes he still cries when I put him in the bed. Here is where I “break the rules” lol! When we’re out and he needs to nap, I’ll stay with him and rub his back off and on till he falls asleep. The reason I do this is because I don’t want him crying and making a scene and he’s in a new place and might be a little bit scared if I left him alone.

Getting your baby to sleep can be a challenge but...

A rested happy baby is so worth it! Once your baby gets into a good sleep routine, both you and your little one will reap the benefits. Think about it, having a well-rested baby means you’ll have quality time to spend with them while they are awake. By incorporating independent sleep skills into their routine, you’ll be able to catch up on your own sleep too, which means you can enjoy time with them even more!

Not only that, but if your baby can fall asleep without fussing, it will be easier for you to get a babysitter when you need one. Imagine being able to book a date night or spend time with your besties while knowing your baby is happy and settled.

If you’re struggling with your child’s sleep, you’re not alone – it’s a challenge many parents face. But I’m here to help! With my coaching programs for newborns to preschoolers, I’ll tailor a solution to your unique situation. Let’s chat and get your child’s sleep back on track. Head to the “work with us” tab on our website to book a 30-minute call or send an email for support.


Try out our “Schedule Generator” to figure out your child’s best sleep schedule so you can stay on top of your child’s sleep needs.

Print out a copy and post to your child’s bedroom wall.