Aussie parents drive an extra 1500 kms a year putting their babies to sleep

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied 

I have two young boys and neither of them were great sleepers as babies. 

I recall turning up to mother's group with dark circles under my eyes, feigning happiness and trying not to sob into my third coffee of the morning as one-by-one my comrades-in-arms would show up and exclaim 'Oh, little (insert name) slept through last night!'

I tried it all - shushing and patting, white noise, vibrating swings, dream feeds, blackout blinds and multiple types of baby carriers (sorry but no, my kids both hated that $280 Ergobaby).

Like many new mums before me, I became so anxious and sleep-deprived I paid for a sleep consultant to come to my home on three separate occasions. She was lovely, very knowledgeable and also taught me one of the golden rules when it comes to baby bedtime battles: 'Sleep begets sleep' 

"They can't sleep too much during the day at this stage," she advised. "And it doesn't matter where. Sort their day sleeps, and the nights will follow." 

Well hallelujah, because that's how I came upon a method that consistently settled my little cherubs and finally got them napping properly during the day. And it wasn't rocket science.

I would unapologetically scoop them up, buckle them in and go for a cruise around the suburbs until I saw those tiny eyelids close firmly shut. 

So when I heard about a new survey from mycar revealing that 96 per cent of Australian parents are driving an extra 1,500 kilometres a year just to put their kids to sleep, I was not surprised.

That's the equivalent of driving from Sydney to Adelaide, by the way. 

I'd say that's actually a glaring underestimation based on my own experience. 

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Given my kids are now two-and-a-half and four, and it's still my tried-and-tested technique to get them to nap during the day, I reckon I've clocked up enough kilometres to cover the entire perimeter of our great island nation.

Let me tell you, I would drive to Timbucktoo and back again for an hour's peace. When you are in the thick of the 'two under two' stage and can synchronise their sleep time, it's a win. A big win.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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According to infant sleep consultant Jo Ryan, while every baby is different, driving can mimic some of the characteristics of being in the womb.

"This includes constant, gentle, rocking motions as well as the hum of the engine sounding like white noise to babies," she tells Essential Baby. "It's also the light sway and low-level movement that has a really calming effect on babies."

The other benefit is that as soon as I know the kids have gone off to snooze-town, I pull over for some instant 'me' time. Let's just say, I always travel with a good podcast recommendation and my Kindle in the glovebox.

Or better still, recline my seat for a much-needed power nap of my own. 

I must also apologise for the unnecessary use of petrol on my part, but upon weighing up the cost to benefit ratio, my sanity wins out. Plus, my boys are so well-trained now they fall asleep within minutes - and all too often I can do a couple of laps of the block and gently cruise back in to the driveway. 

Driving kids to sleep is obviously not ideal to implement for a bedtime routine, and isn't recommended for long periods (especially for newborns), but it has most certainly been brilliant for my family. 

So if you're exhausted, can I suggest you give it a red-hot go?

Just watch out for pot holes!