I get emails from a lot of parents saying, “My baby sleeps so well on The Sleep Sense Program and takes great naps in her cot, but she won’t sleep anywhere else.”

If there’s a downside to having a baby who sleeps well (and I’m not sure there is), it’s that they often don’t sleep as easily in other locations – but then few of us do! Encouraging your baby to sleep anywhere other than their cot can therefore require some work.

Foster flexibility

You don’t always get a great night’s sleep in your friend’s spare room or in hotel a lumpy bed. We all sleep better in our own homes, but there are a still few things you can do to help your child to be more flexible with their daytime schedule.

The first thing you can do is make sure that there is a suitable place for your baby to sleep. If you know you’re going to be traveling during naptime, then your little one will be able to sleep in their car seat on this occasion without a problem.

If you’re going to be out all day, bring your pushchair along so that she has somewhere to sleep at naptime. If you’re going to visit a friend, you may want to bring along a portable cot to put in a quiet room. Conduct your baby’s usual pre-nap routine, put her down, and expect them to sleep well just as they would at home. The closer you stick to her normal routine, the easier this will be.

Be consistent

That being said, the first few times you try this your baby might protest because of being in an unfamiliar place. The good news is that the more you practice this, the better they will be able to cope with change.

Don’t give up on the first attempt. Pretty soon your child will know it doesn’t matter where we are: if the portable cot is there and it’s naptime, I will need to go to sleep. Go to a girlfriend’s house for the day and put your baby down for naps. We also did this in the evenings if we were going to be at friends’ until later in the day.

I used to do this with my first daughter all the time. The more we did it the better, she got at it. Keep trying it even if thing don’t go perfectly in the beginning. It’s far better for your child to develop a bit of flexibility.

I always suggest that people follow the 80/20 rule. Eighty per cent of the time naps are where they should be; at the usual time, everything as per normal. The other 20% of the time you can bend the rules a little and take your child for a nap out and about or at a friend’s place.

This really will not cause a big disturbance to your baby’s schedule. It will give you greater freedom so that you can go out and see friends and do your own thing. I hope that helps.

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