Can You Teach Your Baby to Sleep On The Go?

baby sleeping in stroller
If you’re a mom who thinks a lot about your baby’s sleep (and if you’re a Baby Sleep Site reader, you probably are), then you know that having a predictable, consistent schedule in place can go a long way toward helping your baby establish good sleep patterns. In fact, our sample baby schedules are some of the most popular articles on the site; clearly, parents are interested in establishing routines!

For some of us, though, a consistent schedule for baby can lead to the onset of serious cabin fever for mom or dad! That consistent schedule can contain two or three (or even four or five!) naps, which can make it impossible to get out of the house during the day. Being housebound might work for some parents, but for others, being “trapped” at home can be maddening. Whether you and your baby are introverts or extroverts will make a big difference!

So what’s a “get out and go” mom (or dad) to do? We get this question quite a bit here at The Baby Sleep Site — moms want to teach their babies healthy sleep habits, but they don’t want to be confined by a rigid schedule. “Can I teach my baby to sleep when I’m on the go?” these moms ask. This article will attempt to answer that question.

What Do You Mean By “Baby Sleep On the Go”?

If your schedule (and by extension, your baby’s) is fairly consistent from day to day, and you only have one or two interruptions to that schedule each week, you’ll likely have few issues when it comes to getting your baby to sleep well. Most babies (although not all!) can handle a few variations in the routine. But if you’re out of the house constantly, and your days look nothing alike, it can be hard to get your baby sleeping well.

Can I Sleep Train On the Go?

Here’s the short answer: probably not. It’s not impossible, but it is very difficult. Remember that falling asleep and staying asleep, without any sleep “props” or associations, is a skill babies have to learn. And, when you provide your baby with predictable, consistent routines each day, you give him lots of opportunities to practice this new skill.

Of course, there are occasional exceptions to this rule. You may have a highly adaptable baby who’s able to nap at different times each day, who can sleep anywhere, through anything, and whose bedtime can shift by as many as two or three hours without it making much impact. If you do, congratulations! If you don’t, read on!

There are two factors that make sleeping on the go hard for a baby: baby’s temperament and baby’s nap needs.

Baby’s Temperament Can Make It Hard to Sleep Train On the Go

Nicole defines temperament as how your baby reacts to situations and stimuli, as well as your baby’s mood, ability to calm himself, and level of activity. Some babies are highly adaptable, or are naturally relaxed and easy-going; these babies may do well with sleep training on the go. But if you have a slow-to-adapt baby, developing a consistent and predictable routine will be a key part of teaching your baby how to sleep well. As Nicole says, “Slow to adapt children crave routine and need to know what to expect next.” In general, we recommend you plan to stay put for at least two weeks for official “sleep training.”

Baby’s Nap Needs Can Make It Hard to Sleep Train On the Go

Babies and toddlers need naps; how many and how often depend on a baby’s age. Younger babies need multiple naps each day; as they grow, babies gradually narrow down to three naps each day, then two and (maybe) one. Keep in mind that naps are NOT a “bonus” — naps are necessary! Nicole supports Weissbluth’s philosophy that “sleep begets sleep”; therefore, getting plenty of rest during the day is essential in order for a baby to sleep well at night. You may be tempted to think that as long as your baby is getting enough sleep at night, her naps aren’t important. This usually isn’t the case. The vast majority of babies need naps during the day in order to achieve balanced sleep.

Also, keep in mind that “moving” sleep (i.e. sleep that happens in a car seat or a stroller) isn’t as restorative as sleep occurring in a crib or bassinet. This makes sense when you consider your own sleep experiences. Do you sleep better sitting up in a moving car or lying down in your bed? The same is true for your baby. Light and noise during naps are factors to consider as well. Your child will sleep better in a darkened, quiet room than in a brightly lit, noisy one.

However, this isn’t true for every child. In the United States, many of us associate naps with baby sleeping in a crib, in a darkened, quiet room. In other parts of the world, however, naptime looks different! After reading this article, Pia, a Baby Sleep Site reader from Finland, wrote this:

“Here in Finland and in Sweden it is very common that we, for the daytime naps, put our babies to sleep outside in their strollers or baby carriages. I know this probably sounds alien to you, but the truth is that they sleep much better outside in the fresh air. Of course we put lots of clothes on them, and the stroller is placed next to a window so we can keep an eye on them at all times.”

Pia went on to write,

“This facilitates sleeping on the go. Many times, I have taken my daughter for lunch to a café, fed her, changed her, dressed her and put her outside the café window for a nap, whilst I have been able to enjoy a coffee and a magazine on the inside, watching her constantly.”

As a result of this outdoor approach to naps, Pia says,

“Our daughter is able to sleep anywhere, and we are not bound to staying at home.”

International differences like these might provide you with a different perspective on naps. In general, we’ve found that babies sleep best in darkened, quiet rooms, but stories like Pia’s are a good reminder that cultural differences and norms can produce different sleep results for different babies!

Our Recommendation: When Sleep Training, Stick Close to Home!

When you’re learning to do something new, you need to spend time and energy developing your new skill. Apply this same mentality to your baby’s sleep training. Some kids will pick up these new skills quickly; for others, though, it’ll take a while. Accept your child’s temperament and prepare to be patient; it’s all part of being a parent! Remember too that the days of being tied to home are short-lived. Your baby won’t always be napping every two hours! By 18 months, most babies are napping just once a day (and some transition to one nap before that.) Once there are fewer naps happening during daylight hours, it’s much easier to get out and about.

But What If Sticking Close to Home Just Isn’t An Option?

If you don’t have to be on the go with your baby, then we here at the Baby Sleep Site recommend prioritizing your baby’s needs over your own and staying home to sleep train your baby. We know, however, that for some of you, being on the go isn’t optional (whether it’s because your personality needs it for sanity or because you have things you need to get done).

If this is the case for you, there are a few things you can do to encourage optimal sleep for your baby while the two of you are on the go:

  • Build in as much consistency as you can. Consider keeping a log of your daily activities for a week or two, and then look for patterns that could help you build some predictability into your routine.
  • Add some on-the-go products to your arsenal. Snoozeshade sells a variety of items that can make it easier for babies to sleep while they’re out and about with mom, including car seats, strollers, and even Pack-n-Play covers. You will also want to consider a portable white noise machine such as the Yogasleep or Hatch.
  • Monitor how much sleep your baby is getting. Determine how much sleep your baby needs based on her age, and then make it a priority to see that she gets it. In addition, watch for signs that your child isn’t getting enough sleep. If your baby shows any of these signs, make whatever changes you can to your schedule to help her get more rest. If you have a choice, attempt to have at least the first nap of the day at home as that is most often the most important.

Everyone’s family is unique and while you may see other babies sleeping in a stroller as their parents stroll through the mall, remember that we don’t want our babies “crashing” from exhaustion, but rather learning healthy sleep habits. While the occasional stroller or car nap is just fine, we don’t recommend that be your daily routine. After all, gas is expensive and even walking the mall will get boring after the 300th day in a row.

Are you a “get out and go” mom or dad? How do you get your baby to sleep well when you’re on the go? Scroll down to share your story and to hear from parents like you!

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26 thoughts on “Can You Teach Your Baby to Sleep On The Go?”

  1. Thanks for this informative article. I came to know some new tricks about baby’s nap. Would you please tell me some reliable brand of comfortable stroller where my baby can sleep while moving one place to another? or any authentic online store? I look forward to getting reply. Have a nice day.

    • Hi Lisa,
      Thank you so much for your comment – we’re glad you liked the article! The best place to ask for recommendations on strollers that are safe for sleeping is your pediatrician. They will have a better sense of the options, since there are always new strollers on the market. I hope this helps!

  2. Hi
    My 15 week old baby is extremely hard to get down for naps. The first nap in the morning seems the easiest. Just lil rocking and he’s out. Easy to put down as well. He usually sleeps for 3 hours then. When he wakes up he’s bright as a daisy, plays and is generally happy. All the drama begins after that. Once he’s tired and I try getting him down for another nap he will literally wake up 5 mins of me putting him down and it will go on like that for the entire afternoon hence I’m bound to his needs. At 3pm I force him to sleep and get into bed with him at this stage and allow him to dummy on me if need be jus for him to stay asleep and I can get a break and then he will sleep for another 3 hours. Then wake up bath and play and eat and then ready to sleep again and sometimes I put him down 4 times before he actually sleeps for good. HELP!!!!

  3. My 16 month old will only nap in her crib. This makes it very difficult as I have a teen that needs to be driven around all over and has activities where I need to be there. It’s not choosing my needs over the baby’s it’s having another child that has needs too. She won’t even nap in the car. What can I do to help her? She used to nap in the car and stroller, but stopped when we crib trained her. Help!!!!

    • Hi @Amy – Thanks for writing to us, and sorry to hear that your toddler has a tough time sleeping on the go! My son was the same way, and with a sibling that was 10 years older than him, I was in a similar situation! Some babies/toddlers are just not great at sleeping on the go, and you may have to have short naps sometimes, and offer two on that day, arrange as many carpools as you can, and possibly adjust the older child’s schedule (when you can!) to allow as many naps at home as you can! We can’t really force your toddler to take good naps in the car or stroller, but you can try and make it as comfortable as you can for her, with a favorite sleep pillow, lovey, or blanket, and minimize outside distractions as much as you can, so that she may be able to relax as much as she can and sleep a little! Do your best with what you can do! I hope that things smooth out and good luck!

  4. Hi, my LO is 9.5 months old. He has a solid sleep schedule with 2 naps of 1-2 hours and 11.5 hours of sleep at night. He takes all his naps at home and doesn’t seem be be able to nap in stroller has he’s too exited when he’s outside.

    I’d like to train him to nap in places other than his bed. Could you recommend how to go about doing that? Thanks!

    • Hi @Ying – Thanks for writing to us! Many babies have a tougher time with napping on the go! He may not want to miss out on anything fun while out and about! Having a cover over the crib, to minimize distractions may help! Our free nap guide may help too:
      Good luck and contact us if you need more help!

  5. Hi, I just want to ask – I have a baby who sleep really well outside when I am walking with him in a stroller, I do not even know how long is he able to sleep in it because I am afraid that he will not sleep at night if I let him sleep as much as he want outside.
    In his bed he does not sleep as well and I am now trying to set some schedule to help him sleep better at night so I am staying inside and we are training sleeping in his own bed.
    But my question is – when do you go out with your babies if you do not want them to sleep on-the-go? I have thought fresh air is important for babies (and people generally:)) and I am now afraid that I cannot go for walks (or basically anywhere) with my baby any longer because moving stroller is always making him fall asleep…

    • Hi Veronika,
      Thank you for checking out The Baby Sleep Site! You didn’t mention how old your little one is, and that does have an effect on my answer, so please feel free to write back with that info! But generally, we would recommend “pausing” going out with the stroller for a little while during sleep coaching, so that your baby catches up on missed sleep and gets on schedule, and then you can introduce the stroller again. I hope this helps!

  6. Hi – I have a 4.5 month old and when he was 3ish months he would fall asleep in car seat and in stroller butbhas stopped! Now I have to rock him and hold him for naps. Can’t even get him in crib or swing at home. I’m tired of holding him and I would love if he would nap on the go

    • @Nora – Thank you for reading and for sharing with us. We know how very frustrating these changes can be – it’s very normal for a baby to become more alert and their sleep to change as they get even a few weeks older. A common sleep regression happens around 4 months that’s often a culprit at this age – see here: Sleeping on the go is a skill that some babies can easily acquire while others have to work for it and some others simply refuse to do (my son was in this category!). If you’re interested in helping your little guy sleep better and to try to teach him to sleep on the go again, please consider connecting with one of our sleep consultants who regularly help families with this type of issue. You can read more about them here: We’d love to work with your family. Hang in there!

  7. 5 months old makes all the naps at outside in stroller,only bebedtime in crib. What do you recommend for transition from stroller to crib for naps?

    • @Lesli, Thank you for your comment! It can be very common for babies to nap “on the go” at this age. If you are looking to help your child begin napping in his or her crib, I recommend reading this article: While the article mentions techniques to transition from co-sleeping, you will find great tips that will help your child begin sleeping in their own crib. I hope this helps and best of luck!

  8. @ haylz — sleeping her in her stroller could be a good idea. Parents who do this usually prefer the strollers that allow you to recline the seat to a lying-down position. You may also want to invest in some sort of stroller shade; these allow you to make the “nap area” in the stroller dark, and (if you’re outside) they protect from wind. has a variety of products available.

    @ Jessica — sounds like you’re dealing with a lot right now! The good news is, your son’s old enough to begin some sleep training (we recommend beginning no earlier than 4 months), but he’s still young enough that it’s likely he hasn’t developed any deeply-ingrained habits that’ll be hard to break. You may want to consider our 3 Step System e-book (; you may also want to consider a personalized sleep consultation ( There are lots of ways we can help you get your son sleeping well at night, and many of them are no-cry or “low-cry” solutions.

  9. My son is 5 months old, we’ve co-slept since 1 month old. I’ve made some mistakes since he was born, that I wish I wouldn’t have made. Such as, co-sleeping, laying down with him to fall asleep, etc. He’s pretty good during the day, has a slight routine. He takes 2 naps s day, sometimes each only lasting 30 minutes. And night time is horrific. I’ve tried laying down with him, letting him “cry it out” in his own bed, in my bed. Nothing is working. I need advice. I really want him to start putting himself to sleep in his own bed. As much as I like having him near me, I want him to gain more independence.

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