Traveling with your family is all about making memories and creating new and amazing experiences. Traveling pre-kids is what we call a vacation. And traveling with kids is what we call a trip. Traveling with a baby requires patience, lots of snacks and extreme multi tasking skills. Traveling can also make an impact on baby’s sleep. A change in environment, time zone and being out of typical routine can throw baby’s for a loop. Have no fear, I’m here with my creative tips on how to create a comfortable sleep environment for your baby while traveling.
Baby Sleep While Traveling
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 are perfectly fine! If you are traveling by car, I highly recommend using a travel white noise machine like the Yogasleep Rohm. This can help your baby fall asleep and stay asleep and every minute counts when it comes to travel naps! 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.
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. Bring books from home that you typically use during 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 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 SLUMERMOLLY for $20 off purchase!)
If you want to pack smarter, not harder, consider renting baby equipment from BabyQuip. BabyQuip is a baby equipment rental site where you can order anything, and I mean anything, from their certified rental agents. I have 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!
Respect your baby or toddler’s sleep needs and do not over-schedule. Plan for some down time in the afternoon so you can help your baby napping and plan for a nap that is not on the go. It is tempting to do as much as possible, but it will just leave everyone 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.
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 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.
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. 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!