What the heck is a nap walk?
We’ve heard from many parents about being “nap trapped” at home and not being able to get outside as much as they like, or do things for themselves. If baby is on a two or three times a day nap schedule, and all of these naps are at home in the crib (or even physically on you), it can feel like you never get to leave the house. Enter the nap walk to the rescue!
Many of our active, outdoorsy parents swear by this method to improve their own health and get baby sleeping better.
“Especially when kids are teeny and taking multiple naps it can start to feel like you're always stuck in the house. Being able to take one nap outdoors gives you a lot more flexibility (for things like coming to do a stroller fitness class!) And makes it easier to do things like meet a friend for a walk or a coffee. All very good mom mental health things.”- Hannah
A nap walk is just what it sounds like, a nap that is done on the go, while the parent walks to get exercise and fresh air. Although it’s a common myth that naps on the go are not as “high quality” as naps in the crib, there is no evidence of this and in fact the opposite may be true for some. Or it may just be better for the FAMILY AS A WHOLE for the parent to get some fresh air.
According to Carrie Prowse of Winnipeg’s Little Star Sleep Solutions, “Naps on the go help parents do the things they want/need to do while still getting their children the sleep they need for healthy growth and development. Naps are really hard to regulate and consolidate, so having the flexibility to get outside for a walk and have a stroller/carrier nap can take that pressure off. Generally, the quality of sleep may not be as great as at home in a dark/quiet space. However, I always encourage my clients that some sleep is better than none at all, so a nap on the go can work”.
Benefits of napping on the go
- Many parents say babies sleep deeper and longer when they are on the move in the stroller or the baby carrier (a Finnish study from 2008 indicates children take longer naps when outdoors).
- Babies get used to napping with some background noise and activity.
- Parents and babies get some much-needed fresh air and parents get movement in their day.
- Parents enjoy peaceful time in their day or a chance to socialize.
Tips for a successful NAP WALK
- Plan to nap on the go as often as daily, or at least twice a week, and from a young age to ensure baby does not lose their ability to nap on the go.
- Invest in a well-fitted stroller cover so that weather won’t stop you or bother baby.
- In winter, consider babywearing (see our winter babywearing tips) or using a chariot type stroller on the colder and snowier days to make sure baby stays warm enough and snowdrifts don’t stop you in your tracks.
- To add interest to the walk, plan to meet a friend, or have a phone call while you walk.
- Be flexible with timeslot based on the season and your baby. Morning is a nice time when you are likely feeling fresher, but going out for the third nap of the day may make it a bit smoother if your baby fights it. Prowse says “a good rule of thumb would be to leave for the nap walk when the nap should be starting, to try to stay on track with any schedules/rhythms.”
- Make sure baby has a full tummy and a fresh diaper before you go.
- It’s ideal to choose some routes you can do from home so there is less transferring from car seat to stroller or carrier. However, destination walks can be fun and exciting!
- Not all babies will sleep on the go, but it’s worth a try!
- Consider going in the morning before it gets too hot for the day.
- Make sure baby’s skin (especially those little feet and legs sticking out of the stroller) is not exposed to the sun. Use your stroller canopy or purchase an after-market shade.
- Avoid covering the stroller with blankets that may reduce air circulation or increase heat in the stroller.
- In warmer months, you can pair a walk with some gardening or outdoor relaxing at the end of the nap in your yard.
- Bring a picnic blanket, change of diaper and snacks to stop at a playground or green space when baby wakes.
- In winter, you’d likely want to time your nap walk in the afternoon which is generally warmest.
- Be consistent, but flexible. It feels great to get out, and it’s possible to go on all but the coldest days. At Fit Together winter classes, we’ll go out in weather up to -22 with the wind.
- A Chariot or a stroller with a well fitted cover can make it really cozy inside the stroller. You can even add a “magic bag” next to your baby to add some heat.
- If your baby is still sleeping when you get home, you can practice getting them out of their winter gear while asleep for an added challenge. 😉
“Nap walks were a daily habit for us when my baby was small! I used a Chariot with the infant sling and jogger attachment for navigating snow. I'd dress Mark in a cozy sleeper, balaclava or hat with chin coverage, and snowsuit with enclosed hands and feet. I kept a warm fuzzy stroller bunting to zip around him in the stroller, and had one more fleece blanket to layer on top if it seemed really chilly. I'd close the plastic cover on the chariot to make a cozy little "greenhouse" and reduced layers as it got warmer. I didn't babywear much that winter as Mark didn't like facing inwards and we weren't strong enough for facing outwards.”- Hannah
“I really do love the nap walks! For the first 6-9 months, we would nap walk mostly using a carrier inside my jacket through fall and winter, then lots in the stroller after that. I often listened to a podcast or audio book while I walked. I sometimes walk for up to 2 hours. I have offered one almost daily since birth and my kids both love motion naps. I find it can be a nice way to get some ‘me time’ during the day”. – Katelyn @explore.learn.connect
Nap walks can be a great solution for many families and we hope you’ll give it a try!
PS We’ve had MANY babies sleep entirely though our outdoor classes like Stroller Fitness and Adventure Club. Check out our upcoming schedule here: www.fittogetherwpg.ca/sessions
Aileen, Fit Together Pre & Postnatal Fitness