Traveling with a baby or young child can be an exciting and rewarding experience. But it can also present challenges when it comes to maintaining your little one’s sleep routine. When my oldest was young, we struggled with sleep! That made even short trips stressful and tiring. We don’t have family that live locally, so traveling was a must. Sometimes our sleep was so poor, I wanted to cancel the trip! I don’t want that for you! We knew we had to better understand sleep in order to help our family which is what we did! I want that for you, too! I have learned from experience that when our little ones sleep well (even when away from home), everyone is happier. Don’t let the idea of Summer travel and baby sleep make you a bit nervous! I’m here to help and share my secrets of Summer travel and baby sleep with you so your trip can actually feel like a vacation! From packing familiar items to adjusting your schedule, these tips will help you set your baby up for sleep success, no matter where you travel.
Keep reading to learn how you can get your baby or child to sleep while traveling and don’t forget to grab The Ultimate Summer Travel and Sleep Guide here! (It’s a FREEBIE!!)
1. Plan Ahead for Sleep
Although my husband and I tend to wait until the last minute to book our travels, I never wait to plan to make sleep a priority. As summer approaches and vacation plans are being made, it’s important to plan ahead. In planning, consider how your baby will get the rest they need while enjoying your time away from home.
When it comes to deciding where your baby should sleep while traveling, there are several options. Although your options may depend on the specific circumstances of your trip, try to consider where your baby will sleep, ahead of time!
For your baby:
Pack ‘n Play or Portable Crib:
A portable crib or a Pack ‘n Play is versatile and convenient. This option for provides a safe and familiar sleep space for your baby while traveling. These lightweight and collapsible cribs can be easily packed in your car or checked in as luggage when flying. Set it up in your accommodation, and it will serve as a familiar bed for your baby.
Hotel Cribs or Rental Cribs:
If you’re staying at a hotel, resort, or vacation rental, inquire in advance if they provide cribs or play yards. Many accommodations offer complimentary or rental cribs, saving you the trouble of bringing your own. Ensure that the provided crib meets safety standards and inspect it for any potential hazards before placing your baby in it.
PRO TIP: Don’t forget to bring along a crib sheet from home that smells familiar to your child.
Regardless of where your baby sleeps while traveling, your child’s safety is the number one priority. Create a safe sleep environment and ensure that the sleeping area is free from hazards. Stick to safe sleep practices, such as placing your baby on their back to sleep in a crib and avoiding loose bedding, pillows, or toys. By providing a comfortable and secure sleeping environment, you can help your baby rest peacefully while away from home.
For your preschooler or big kid:
For your preschoolers and big kids, bring along a toddler travel bed or cot. Allow them to help pack bedding that is familiar to them so they can feel comfortable in their own space. If sharing a bed while traveling, let them know that the sleeps are a bit different from home while away. Clearly define and discuss the sleep rules that apply while away so they know what is expected.
PRO TIP: Don’t forget to bring their Toddler Alarm Clock so they know when it is sleep time and wake up time.
No matter your child’s age, if sharing a room aim to place your child’s sleep space further from your bed. This makes it more difficult for them to easily see you (and tempt you into a hotel party at 4am!). If getting a place with two separate rooms is an option, don’t forget to pack the monitor!
2. Plan Your Travel Around Sleep Schedules
Arrange Around Sleep:
When making your travel arrangements, try to schedule flights or road trips during your baby’s usual nap times or bedtime. This way, they can sleep during the journey, helping them stay well-rested and minimizing disruptions to their routine. Try to get your child as much sleep as you can on travel days because traveling is exhausting!
Plan for Stops:
Long car journey? Plan regular rest stops to allow your baby to stretch, play, and nap. This will help prevent them from becoming overtired or fussy during the drive. Look for parks or rest areas on the route to take a break and let your baby burn off some energy.
PRO TIP: Take a sunshade that clings to the window to help slightly darken the car while not obstructing the driver’s view.
3. Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment
Babies and children thrive on routine and familiarity. Try to recreate their sleep environment as closely as possible, regardless of where you’re staying. Although it is a bit more challenging to set up an ideal sleep space, do the best you can because.
Just like at home, babies sleep better in a calm, cool, dark, and quiet environment.
Calm. Make the sleeping area as familiar as you can. Walk your child around the new space and point out things that are similar and different to home. Be calm and relaxed while doing this activity and they, too, will feel calm and relaxed.
Cool. When traveling during the summer, it’s important to keep the room temperature cool for sleep. Ideally, adjust the temp to fall between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure your baby doesn’t overheat. Dress your baby appropriately for sleep and check your child to make sure they are not too warm or too cool in the new environment.
Dark. Try to recreate a dark sleep environment similar to home. This will help make it easier for your baby or child to fall asleep and stay asleep. Plus, keeping it nice and dark makes the new environment less distracting for your child.
Use blackout curtains or shades, such as the SleepOut Shade, to block out excess light that may disrupt your baby’s sleep. If your child is in a portable crib or Pack ‘n Play bring along the SlumberPod! (Use the code littlesleepersbigdreamers for a discount!)
Check out some of my favorite sleep products to help make setting up the sleep environment a breeze while away!
Quiet. Use white noise to drown out unfamiliar sounds such as traffic, people talking, or even hotel room noises. These sounds can disrupt your baby’s sleep and make it difficult for them to fall asleep or stay asleep. Using white noise, such as a fan or a white noise machine, can help drown out these unfamiliar sounds and create a more peaceful sleep environment for your baby.
PRO TIP: You can also download white noise apps on your phone or tablet if you don’t have access to a machine.
4. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule and routine
Maintain Their Schedule:
One of the most important things you can do to help your baby sleep well while traveling is to stick to a consistent sleep schedule, as much as possible. Try to keep meals, naps and bedtimes around the same time each day. This will help your baby’s body adjust to the new environment and make it easier for them to fall asleep and stay asleep. If possible, prioritize their sleep needs and plan activities and outings around their sleep times.
Of course, you still want to enjoy your trip so there may be some missed naps and later bedtimes. If you miss a nap or it must occur on the go, plan to offer the next sleep at the place you are staying while away since it is set up to be ideal for sleep.
Enjoying a vacation as a family is important so that may mean later bedtimes too! If you have a later night, plan to offer earlier bedtimes to get back on track.
Stick to the Consistent Bedtime Routine:
Maintaining a consistent bedtime routine is crucial for promoting healthy sleep habits. Try to maintain your baby’s usual sleep routine as much as possible, even while traveling. Follow the same pre-sleep rituals, such as reading a story or singing lullabies, to signal that it’s time for sleep. Consistency will help signal to your baby that it’s time to sleep, no matter where they are. Not sure what a bedtime routine should look like?
Time Zone Travel with your baby?
When you’re traveling to a different time zone, be prepared for potential disruptions to your baby’s sleep schedule. If you are staying less than 3 days, keep them in your normal time zone time. If you are staying longer than 3 days, adjust them to the new time zone once you arrive.
Planning ahead for time zone travel with your baby? Gradually adjust their bedtime and nap times a few days before you depart, so they can gradually acclimate to the new time zone. Once you arrive, expose them to natural sunlight during the day to help regulate their internal clock.
5. Stay Calm and Patient. You will Get Back On Track
Getting a baby to sleep while traveling can sometimes be a challenge due to the unfamiliar surroundings and disruptions to their routine. Traveling can be stimulating and overwhelming for our little ones too. It’s normal for their sleep patterns to be disrupted. Be flexible and patient, understanding that your baby might have a few restless nights or shorter naps. Offer extra comfort and reassurance during this time, and trust that they will eventually adjust to the new environment.
Don’t forget that you have worked to establish healthy sleep habits for your child. Even if things get a little off while away, aim to get back into your baby’s consistent routine and schedule once you get home.
PRO TIP: If you feel, vacation has ruined your baby’s sleep! I’m here to help. Let’s set up a time to chat to get you back on track!
Traveling with a baby during the summer doesn’t have to mean sacrificing sleep. By planning ahead, being mindful of sleep during travel, creating a familiar sleep environment and sticking to routines, you can help your little one have a restful vacation. Remember to be flexible and patient, and most importantly, enjoy the special moments and memories you’ll create together.
Don’t forget to download all the tips and tricks in The Ultimate Summer Travel and Sleep Guide.
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