Shortly after my first daughter turned 3 months old, my husband and I traveled to San Francisco for a friend’s wedding.
And boy was I nervous. Sure, we were excited to finally get away from the house after months of being under postpartum house arrest, but I was also anxious about traveling for the first time with a baby.
I felt like my daughter and I were finally in a sleep rhythm that worked for us. Would this trip mess it all up?
If you’re planning a vacation or trip and worried about how your baby or toddler will sleep away from home, this blog post is for you.
Keep reading for 5 tips to get your little one to actually sleep on vacation, plus a bonus tip that could be a game-changer post vacation.
Tip #1: Make it a Home Away From Home
Babies love consistency and continuity–it’s what helps them feel secure. So, do whatever you can bring the comforts of home with you on your trip.
For example, bring sheets from home and use the same white noise sound at bedtime. (You can even consider bringing an unwashed crib sheet, since it will likely smell the most like home.)
The more you can simulate your little one’s home environment, the better off you’ll be!
Travel Sleep Tip #2: Make the Room as Dark as Possible
It’s no secret I’m a big fan of blackout shades and curtains for both bedtime and naptime.
Why? Because a dark room encourages the production of melatonin–the sleep hormone.
And since your baby can’t understand language just yet, it also sends the signal that it’s time for bed!
Fortunately, you don’t have to travel with your heavy blackout curtains.
There are several travel-friendly blackout shades and curtains that are easy to install just about anywhere.
My favorite? The Sleepout Curtain–a portable, easy-to-hang blackout curtain that’s perfect for travel.
Use code KRISTIN10 at checkout for a discount!
Related: Sleep Training–Everything a Tired Parent Needs to Know
Travel Sleep Tip #3: Create a Separate Sleep Environment
This might be tricky–especially in a hotel room–but whenever possible, set up a separate sleep space for your little one.
Stick their pack and play in a large bathroom or closet or set up a partition in the room.
This will allow you to move freely without distracting your little one.
The Slumberpod is a great way to create a soothing sleep environment for your baby.
It’s easy to–set–up, bottomless design fits over your child’s travel crib, mini crib, or toddler cot to give them their own personal sleep space.
Use code KRISTINGIEFER20 at check out for a discount!
Travel Sleep Tip #5: Stick to Your Routine
If you’ve created a solid routine, stick to it as much as possible.
I recommend my sleep consulting clients stick to the “Eat, Play, Sleep” routine, but do what works for you!
This might mean you have to schedule activities around your little one’s schedule, but I promise it’s worth it.
Will you have to be tied to your hotel room the entire trip? No!
I do, however, advise that at least one nap (preferably the morning nap) be in a crib. This will set your little one up for success throughout the day.
Travel Sleep Tip #5: If Necessary, Break the Rules
If your little one is sleep trained (meaning they can fall asleep and stay asleep without sleep crutches such as being rocked or held to sleep), but they have a hard time settling down in a new space, it’s okay to break the “rules.”
A new sleep environment can be alarming to babies and toddlers, so they might need a little more assistance than usual when it comes to falling asleep.
It’s okay to rock, hold, or feed them to sleep while you’re away from home.
BONUS TIP: Get Back on Track
If you do have to use sleep crutches while you’re away, get back on track with your sleep routine as soon as possible when you return home.
Reentry might be tough for a few days, and it might feel like you’re sleep training all over again, but stay consistent and you’ll be back on track in no time.
I know traveling with little ones can be nerve wracking–especially when it comes to sleep!
So follow these 5 tips to ensure your little sleeps well while on vacation:
- Make it a Home Away From Home
- Make the Room as Dark as Possible
- Create a Separate Sleep Environment
- Stick to Your Routine
- Break the Rules if Necessary
Remember: get back on track as soon as you get home to avoid unwanted sleep habits!
Now if you’re reading this and thinking, “but Kristin, my baby doesn’t sleep at home much less on vacation!” you might be ready for my sleep consulting services.