Sleep has been the bane of my life since I had children – their refusal, and my consequent lack of. Because I choose to breastfeed, it’s on me – apart from during the hell of colic thanks to CMPA, I’ve never expected my husband to get up in the night. But I have found a trick that helps me retain my sanity, and I’m going to share my tip for if your baby refuses to nap. This is how to get a baby to nap without being held and how to transfer a sleeping baby. If your baby won’t nap, you need to read this.

I’ve always been adamant about co-sleeping being a no-no for us; not that I judge – I just value my marriage. Not that I’m saying you don’t if you co-sleep – but my hubby wouldn’t tolerate it very well. Not that I’m saying – I’m just going to move on now…

Anyway, we had a lot of trouble with Pixie’s sleep for what felt like a very long time. (I don’t want to admit the nightly wakings are creeping back in, but, well…they kind of are. I’m currently choosing to ignore the fact and hope it goes away.)

Mother and Baby

It was a tough period in the Tunstall household, and resulted in our daughter’s blog-nickname: the Devil Pixie. Throughout that phase we brought her into our bed as infrequently as we could get away with, the intention being that we absolutely wanted to avoid it becoming the norm for her. From experience, once a routine has been established for a little person, it’s very hard to break…

But we’ve finally nailed it – more or less – and ‘Devil’ has accordingly been dropped (unless she’s being particularly cheeky, in which case it tends to pop back up in my writing!).

When Baby Won’t Nap…

However, despite my (arguably impressive) perseverance and refusal to take the easy option of allowing Pixie to sleep beside me every night – it’s not all rosy. Her naps have been an altogether different matter.

How to get a baby to nap

Controlled crying is not for us. I have my reasons for choosing not to follow this approach under our roof, and I don’t wish to alienate anybody so I’m not going to harp on about them – we all have to find a way to survive those first months, so each to their own. Suffice to say, as I write Pixie is approaching her second birthday and still – still – I cannot get her to lay in her bed and sleep during the day.

How to Get Your Baby to Nap Without Being Held

My solution (confession)? Since she’s been, ooh, six months old probably – she naps in her pushchair.

Every. Single. Day.

Mamas & Papas Armadillo Review - Canopy

But, the purpose of this post is not an invitation for people to gasp in shock at my lackadaisical attitude, or whatever you want to label this situation I’ve created out of desperation. Incidentally, my regret at failing to get my young daughter into a bed for her naps is offset by my proud determination to march until she reaches the land of nod. Sometimes I pound the pavements for close to an hour before she quits fighting it.

Anyway, my motivation for sharing is to help others in my situation.

You may be reading and wondering what on earth happens if she falls asleep in the car? And that‘s the purpose of this post. Allow me to introduce to you the notion of…

How to Transfer a Sleeping Baby

If you’ve never heard of it, I’m about to change your life. 

Basically, there’s a ten to fifteen minute period after your child succumbs to sleep during which you can do pretty much whatever you wish with them – and they will continue to slumber peacefully. I’m not endorsing drawing stupid eyebrows on them, but whatever floats your boat.

The point is, if your infant passes out in the car, so long as you attempt the transfer manoeuvre within that magic window – you’re home and dry. Essentially, what you’re aiming for is that precious window during which limbs become heavy and do not respond to your touch. If you lift an arm and the wrist is limp – THIS is your opportunity.

How to Get A Baby to Nap – My Failsafe Tip!

In my experience, if you miss those golden first ten minutes, but catch twelve to fifteen – you’re veering into extremely dangerous territory: I’d place myself at approximately 50/50 success within this period.

But three to ten minutes? I can confidently say I have a very respectable 96% success rate, which is not to be sniffed at.

It makes having a life that little bit easier to fit in around naps. It means:

  • We’re not confined to the house;
  • I can take a walk;
  • I’m able to work from a café;

…Or, whatever. In other words – BLISS! (Until the next dilemma we encounter, natch…)

I look upon the brief reprieve of naptime with ardent reverence, and I’m already preemptively mourning its end. I dread the inevitable conclusion of my daily respite during which I put my feet up/catch up with the telebox/paint my nails flit around cleaning and tidying like Monica on speed.

So, judge me if you will – but until that day comes to pass, I shall continue to encourage Pixie’s pushchair zzz’s.

An award-nominated blogger and author, Kate is a huge advocate of personal growth, focusing on journaling to increase positivity and facilitate mindful motherhood. With a wealth of experience in breastfeeding and CMPA, Kate is also an expert baby sleep chaser. Her writing has appeared on Mothercare, Huff Post, and BritMums.


  1. I’ve pretty much always been able to move George when he’s asleep but he seems to have a different magic window in that you must not move him in the first 10 mins. Do so, and all the effort to get him to sleep will be lost. Being one that likes to break the trends though it’s only reasonable that my child should naturally be the same lol ? I totally agree there is a magic window though. I just didn’t actually think of like that until you pointed it out. This shall now become my new favourite phrase ☺️

  2. Madeline (This Glorious Life) Reply

    Yep, my daughter definitely has a window! I would say once she’s been out for about 10 minutes then I’m ok, but like you I would do the floppy arm test to see if she was really out or not before trying to move her! x #TheList

  3. Nick @ NotesFromADad Reply

    For us this is usually on our way home from somewhere in the car, generally J-Bubb nods off quite heavily so when we pull up, although he’s awkward to move, he stays settled as we transfer him to his cot.

  4. You Baby Me Mummy Reply

    I used to have to go for a drive every day and sit in the car while she slept. I never wanted to risk moving her 🙂 Thanks for linking up to #TheList x

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