How to Get Young Children to Sleep in the Car

Getting your children to sleep in the car has been a task many a parent has attempted with varying degrees of success. After all, it can be very helpful to have your young child take a nap during your various travels. Not only does this help make driving easier on the parent and less distracting, but it can be very convenient to help fit the child’s sleeping schedule in with your daily errands. There are a number of tips and tricks that can be implemented to help with this, and we have assembled them here to help you achieve your goal.

Travel during sleep time

A great way to help your kids drift off to sleep in your Ford car’s backseat is to coincide your travel with their regular sleeping times. This is advice offered up by Bounty, a resource for guidance and reassurance for families as they transition into parenthood:

“Try to time trips out in the car with toddlers so that they coincide with nap times. But, also watch out for the ‘dreaded car nap’. Toddlers seem to have a knack for napping in the car, even for a few minutes, and then somehow recharge, throwing all manner of routine for the rest of that day entirely out of the window.”

Getting your kids to sleep in the car is great, but of course the child’s safety is most important of all. So make sure to heed this advice from Bounty to make sure your child is as secure as they can be before even thinking about getting them to nap.

“In cold winter weather, makes sure thick coats are taken off before strapping your toddler into their car seat. The reason it is so important to remove a child’s thick coat when strapping them into the car is because the coat creates too big a gap between the safety harness and the child’s body. In the instance of a collision, the harness isn’t close enough to the child to properly restrain them. Therefore, remove thick layers and strap your child in and tighten the straps so that you can only get two fingers between the harness and your child.”

Allow time for them to fall asleep

If you know exactly when you want your child to fall asleep and, as suggested above, are travelling during their regular sleep time, make sure to allow time for them to fall asleep. Try pulling over 30 minutes before you would like them to be sleeping and engage in your regular sleep time routine (as best you can). Then be back on the road after about 10 minutes, leaving plenty of time for them to drift off naturally.

Bring their favourite comfort items

Bringing along for the ride your small child’s favourite comfort items, such as blankets and stuffed toys, can be of great benefit in helping them to fall asleep. Even putting your child in their pyjamas will provide another touchstone to their usual sleeping habits, helping trigger their brains into recognising it’s time to sleep.

Provide shade

Obviously, when travelling during the day, it can be very bright and not exactly perfect conditions for falling asleep. This won’t be a hindrance for many children but if yours is struggling to secure that shut-eye when the sun is shining, try blocking the light out in the back of the car. By using stick-on window shades and covers to go over the front of a baby’s car seat (like SnoozeShade), you can help provide that darker environment to help them along.

Support their heads

Anyone who has travelled with a sleeping child (or adult for that matter) will have seen them nodding off only to awaken themselves when their neck relaxes and head falls down as a result. Not only is this an obstacle to sustained sleep, it’s not exactly good for their little necks.

To help with this, consider purchasing some support for their heads, even in the form of a car seat with support in that area or with a seatbelt pillow such as this one from Direct 2 Mum. Simply wrap it around their seatbelt and your little one will have a comfortable place to rest their head while still being perfectly secure.


The main thing to remember when trying to get young children to sleep is patience. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again. While your child might be resistant to the idea at first, continue introducing the practice, helping to get them used to the idea that this is a normal thing for them to be doing.

It might take a little trial and error but by having some patience, with both your child and the routine, you will soon be enjoying drives with them happily fast asleep in the backseat. You’ll likely even end up developing your own tips and tricks because, after all, every child is different.