Help baby sleep well, even on vacation, with these baby sleep hacks that will help the whole family relax and have a nice time.
After teething and nap transitions, the most asked question I get about baby sleep is this.
“What do we do when we travel?”
But, let’s be real: traveling with a baby will likely never be trouble-free.
Between changing time-zones, changing blow-outs in tiny airplane stalls, and changing sleep environments, it’s a lot. You’re not likely to come back from vacation thinking “that was the most restful week of my life”.
But, you can at least have a game-plan. And you can maximize your efforts to make it as restful and fun as possible.
So, with summer fast approaching and vacations booked, the time is now. Let’s talk about how to make traveling with a baby (or toddler) as easy as possible.
Here’s a handy dandy list of 28 things to try so baby will stop fighting sleep and sleep longer and later.
Set up the new sleep location to be as similar to home as possible
If your bambino sleeps in a dark, quiet room of his own at home, recreate it. As much as possible in the hotel or at grandparent’s house, make sure the main things are the same.
Check ahead of time to see if the room he will be sleeping in is dark enough, and if not, seriously bring blackout curtains (or use tin-foil, if needed).
This sounds extreme, but what is extreme is having a week long vacation where baby wakes up at 4:30am every morning.
This will also help with setting their internal clock to the new time-zone. Don’t forget to pack the white noise machine, or bring a travel version.
And definitely assure your baby (under 1 especially) will still be sleeping on a firm, flat surface, on his back, free from excess blankets and pillows.
Follow the same routine as at home
Traveling to see family or for vacation can seem like a great excuse to throw routine out the window. But don’t. Remember how much your little ones thrive on routine.
Continue to allow enough time for your babe to settle down for sleep. Bring a few of your same books from home, sing the same songs, and stick to the same plan for sleep as you normally would at home.
AKA: Don’t start reactive co-sleeping or rocking to sleep just because you’re traveling.
Use my simple 4 step routine to help your little ones start sleeping better LIKE TODAY.
It doesn’t take weeks, mama.
Stick to your schedule as much as possible
If baby needs 2 naps a day at home, please don’t expect him to go all week living off of one nap without having fall-out elsewhere.
I do get it, nap schedules can really cramp your vacay style. No other time like vacation do you feel the pains of the nap trap. But a baby who is keeping you up all night from being so overtired after missing half of his normal day sleep will also cramp your vacation.
Try to strike that balance of allowing for some changes in routine to do some special activities then offering your baby chances to make up for sleep.
So if your babe is out at Disneyland all day and barely napping, then really try to make up for it with an earlier bedtime. Or staying home the next day to let him catch up on sleep and get back on track.
Get my cheat sheets (newborn up to elementary aged kids) and find your family’s groove. Use them for nap times, meal times, bedtimes, chore times, play times AND more!
Travel with a sleep-trained baby
Many of the above suggestions won’t really matter if your baby already isn’t a good sleeper.
I wouldn’t recommend traveling right in the middle of sleep training. That can really throw off your progress. Doing it at least 2-3 weeks before you go can make your trip much more enjoyable.
On the first night of your trip, just stick to the same plan as you follow at home. Typically after night 1, the rest of your trip will be pretty smooth. Then you can really enjoy lying on the beach.
Baby not sleep trained yet because you don’t know where to start?
Newborn Settling Guide
Tried-and-true *hands on* newborn settling strategies that even the most fussy (or wide-awake-sleep-refusing) newborns cannot resist!Learn More
Sleep Little Lamb
Create sustainable sleep habits for your little lamb so the whole family can sleep peacefully without the stress, drama, and tears.Learn More
Invest in the best items for travel.
I absolutely think it’s worth the investment to purchase some travel-specific items to make your life easier while traveling. Since, let’s face it, you already have an added stress of traveling with a baby or young child.
No matter how well behaved or great at sleep they are. As they say, a vacation is more like a relocation.
Make sure that you have some version of the following:
- A comfy safe place to sleep
- An easy to maneuver stroller
- A muslin type blanket you can use to help cover a stroller or carrier if you want baby to nap on the go
- Some type of carrier if you envision carrying baby for long periods
What is the best pack and play for sleeping?
Well, that is hard to pin point. There are a bajillion options, but according to reviews by mamas like yourself, here are the top 5 pack and plays for sleeping.
And remember, if you take a pack and play on vacation, they can be used for a whole lot of things. Not just sleep.