Traveling with your family is all about making memories and creating new and amazing experiences. Traveling pre-kids is what we call a vacation. When you add parenting into the mix, traveling is what we call a trip. Traveling with a baby requires patience, lots of snacks, and extreme multi-tasking skills.
Traveling can also have an impact on your baby’s sleep. A change in environment, time zone, and being out of typical routine can throw your baby’s sleep for a loop. Have no fear, mamas- I’m here with all the sleep tips on how to create a comfortable sleep environment for your baby while traveling to avoid the dreaded sleep deprivation.
Bryce on a flight to Florida earlier this year!
Baby Sleep and Travel
Plan for naps during travel time
It is best to plan ahead and do whatever you need to do to keep your child comfortable and occupied during your traveling journey. Car seat naps are better than no naps and planning for nap time to be in your arms when flying is perfectly fine!
If you are traveling by car, I highly recommend using a travel white noise machine like the Yogasleep Rohm. This can soothe your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep. (Every minute counts when it comes to travel napping!) The Rohm sound machine can operate all night long on a single charge and comes with a USB cable for recharging. This is a MUST HAVE. It will ensure your baby is getting good naps especially when on the go.
If you are traveling by air, the plane is a natural source of white noise which is great. Traveling can be distracting for babies and children. Consider using a baby carrier which can help extend naps and give you use of your arms, what a luxury! If you need your baby to focus on feeding, try bringing them into a family bathroom where there won’t be a lot of people or loud noises. When you are on the plane, try to put a swaddle blanket over you while your baby is feeding to drown out some of the distractions. Travel sleep can be shorter than naps at home so just prepare for shorter naps and adjust bedtime accordingly.
Don’t forget the essentials
Bring your child’s blanket, stuffed animal or lovey, crib sheet from home, sleep sack, and white noise machine for soothing to get your baby to sleep more easily. Bring books from home that you typically use during your bedtime routine to ensure your baby is feeling some sense of home. Try to set up a sleep space that is dark and separate from you. If you are in a hotel room, bathrooms or closets are always great options as they are dark, quiet, and cool. Yes, this means you may need to use the lobby bathroom or forgo closet space. It’s either that or sharing a room with a baby that will see, hear, and smell you every time you roll over, I’ll let you decide!
These are my favorite travel blackout shades. They are paper and can be cut to fit any window size – they are great for travel. Pro-tip: ship them directly to your destination (one less thing to pack!) Another AMAZING travel item is the SlumberPod which is a portable blackout canopy that can fit over a pack-n-play, mini crib, toddler cot, or inflatable toddler mattress. (Use code sleep.shore for 5% off purchase!)
If you want to pack smarter, not harder, consider renting baby equipment from Baby Quip. BabyQuip is a baby equipment rental site where you can order anything, and I mean anything, from their certified rental agents. I’ve used them many times and have been thrilled with the experience. I highly recommend this so that you can pack lighter! I used BabyQuip on a recent trip with my son and was so glad I rented an actual crib for him, it really helped and anything to help with toddler sleep is a WIN! Use SLEEPSHORE10 at checkout for 10% off.
If you have a toddler, check out Make the Most of Your Family Vacation: 16 Travel Essentials for Toddlers!
Respect your baby or toddler’s sleep needs and do not over-schedule. Plan for some downtime during the day so you can help your baby and get in a nap that’s not on the go. It is tempting to do as much as possible, but it will just leave everyone cranky and miserable at the end of the day. Better naps lead to better sleep and everyone likes to sleep through the night on vacation!
An occasional car nap or slightly later bedtime is fine! Most children can tolerate this without too much disruption to their overall sleep patterns. However, consecutive days of naps on the go and later bedtimes will wreak havoc on their sleep. You still want to aim for no more than 20% of naps out and about. Check out How to Get A Baby On A Sleep Schedule While Traveling for more information on how to maintain their sleep patterns!
Your child may test the boundaries and protest more in their new sleep environment until they get used to it. Deal with it the same way you would at home. Be very consistent for the first few days and nights and your child will be used to their new sleep space and go back to sleeping well, which will make for an enjoyable vacation for everyone. Try not to develop old or bad sleep habits like bed sharing or starting a new sleep routine that you’ll regret when you get home! Returning home is always a relief because you can get back to your normal sleep schedule and routine. It may take a few days to get back on track but stay consistent and your child will get right back on track.
Travel Bed For Baby
Setting your baby up for solid sleep on vacation will help you tremendously and will help make it feel like an actual vacation, not a trip! Most hotels will have a crib for you to use so make sure you ask them in advance if you can reserve one. If they don’t, I highly recommend using Babyquip, you can rent any baby or toddler-related items and they will deliver it right to you – it’s AMAZING. You can rent a crib, toddler travel bed, bath items, toys, etc.
Traveling can be stressful and overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be! Read these tips, prepare in advance, and make the most of it! Make sure to enjoy your vacation (trip) and not obsess if your baby’s sleep gets a bit thrown off. For more tips on making the most of your trip, check out The Travel Sleep Guide. It covers what to pack, how to plan to travel and sleep, how to manage time zones, how to stick to your routine but remain flexible, and so much more!
Sleep Shore Sleep Services
Once you’re home, if you need to do a bit of sleep training, our 1-week sleep package can help get you back on track! We offer infant sleep support for all little ages, from newborns to toddlers. Help your little one learn to self-soothe and fix their sleep cycle to develop healthy sleep habits. See what this mama had to say about our sleep services:
“She is wonderful! Molly took the time to explain the process of sleep training to my husband and me. She answered all of our questions & was more available to us than I could have ever expected. My little boy is now sleeping through the night & our family is happier & healthier as a result. We sincerely feel like we couldn’t have done it without her. Sleep training is a challenge & having a professional a text or email away is an investment worth making.”