Why Napping in the Carrier is a GOOD Thing

Photography: HADAS Images

By Brooke Maree

HELP! My baby keeps falling asleep while they’re in the carrier!

Or perhaps more accurately…

My baby will only fall asleep in the carrier!

If you’re terrified that your little darling is getting set up for terrible habits and might just never sleep without being attached to you or in a carrier, please read on.

As a babywearing mum, carriers are my go-to in so many situations…

  • Hands-free shopping
  • Bush walking
  • Walking basically anywhere
  • Settling a cranky baby/toddler
  • Giving cuddles when I’m busy… and…
  • Inducing naps!

I did a quick Google on “napping in the carrier” and came up with so many blogs, forum posts, and even “experts” saying that napping in the carrier is a Terrible Really Bad Thing. Because you’ll teach your baby bad habits, which is basically the end of the world. And nobody wants a baby with Bad Habits.

Yikes. So have I basically screwed up my toddler for life here?

Ahhh… no.

Napping in the Carrier is Normal

It’s time to start looking at baby’s sleep differently. More realistically. Because it’s actually biologically normal for babies (and often even toddlers) to want to sleep near or on their mum or another caregiver. If you think about it, it totally makes sense.

It’s time to start looking at baby’s sleep differently. More realistically. Because it’s actually biologically normal for babies (and often even toddlers) to want to sleep near or on their mum or another caregiver. If you think about it, it totally makes sense.

Babies are born totally helpless and dependent. They can’t do ANYTHING for themselves. They depend on you for survival.

And actually, they’ve been shown to only start to understand that they are separate from their mother’s body when they’re around eight months old. So when you’re apart from them at any time, it’s like a part of them is missing. Are you crying yet? Just joking. 😉

But in all seriousness, you shouldn’t be at all surprised that your baby likes to nap on you or in the carrier. Or that they seem to fall asleep more easily that way. And quite possibly don’t get too happy if you try to put them down in the cot. Because when you’re there, they know that they’re going to survive their next pang of hunger/thirst, that you’re going to protect them from the environment they’re in, and that they will stay warm and safe.

So first thing’s first: napping in a carrier is NORMAL and definitely not bad.

Napping in the Carrier is Good

Let’s go one step further, because in my experience, not only is a good ole carrier nap a normal thing for your baby to do, it’s actually good for them and you.

Let’s start with your baby. When they’re in the carrier, as opposed to napping lying down, a whole bunch of things are happening that would otherwise not:

  • Their breathing is regulated by yours (SIDS protection!)
  • They can hear you and learn from what you are saying and doing
  • They can keep on bonding with you
  • They are less likely to develop a flat spot as they spend less time lying on a flat surface
  • Your movements help them develop an awareness of their own muscles as they use them to correct their position subconsciously

But it’s really not just about the baby. Mama (and papa!) you are super important too. And getting your baby to nap in a carrier has a whole lot of benefits for you:

  • Once again, bonding! Spending that time close to your baby and noticing their cues early is going to help your relationship blossom.
  • You can stop stressing about putting them to sleep – often if baby is comfortable enough in the carrier, they will naturally fall asleep on their own when they are ready.
  • You can stop stressing about putting them down – avoid one of the most frustrating things you can do… spending precious time putting that baby to sleep only to have them wake up in the cot!
  • Get more flexibility to your schedule. If baby naps in the carrier, you can stay out longer in environments that aren’t otherwise ideal for sleep.
  • Having baby settle in the carrier might even mean a date night is on the cards… leave baby and the carrier with a grandparent, and off you go!
  • Finally, when you use the carrier for day naps, especially when your little one is super small, they will stay better rested and calmer during the day, which will make getting them down at night time a lot easier (definitely true in my experience).
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