Traveling with babies can be overwhelming, right? The thought of vacationing with your little one might leave you wondering why you booked that “relaxing” vacation in the first place.
I get it, sister.
You’re worried your baby won’t feel comfortable in a new place, or your toddler will be too overwhelmed, excited, and wound up to settle down. And what about naps? Will you be able to have fun without stressing about nap times?
Take a deep breath, mama. Your babes can sleep on vacation. Today, I’m sharing three traveling with babies sleep tips.
Traveling With Babies Sleep Tip #1: Pack Smart
A few days before you begin packing for your trip, start thinking of everything–and I mean everything–your little one needs to fall asleep. Does she need a particular set of pajamas? A special book? What about a white noise machine or a special lovey?
It might feel excessive, but you’ll want to pack all of those things.
Pack an unwashed crib sheet to use in the Pack n’ Play or travel crib. The scent will remind your little one of home and help them feel more comfortable in a new environment.
Your baby or toddler might feel a little overwhelmed in a new place, so having all her favorite things available will help her settle in much easier.
Need some help packing that suit case? Click here to download my FREE tried and true packing list!
Traveling With Babies Sleep Tip #2: Stick to the Schedule, But Be Flexible
It’s tempting to throw your routine out the window when traveling. After all, vacation is about relaxing and going with the flow, right? But remember: kids thrive on schedules and will be a lot more content if they know what to expect. Sticking to their everyday routine is important.
Don’t Skip Naps!
When it comes to naps, it might seem easier and more fun to forego those rest times, but want to know what’s not fun? Meltdowns. Naps are the key to preventing tantrums, night wakings, bedtime battles, and early mornings. So, let me repeat: do not skip naps!
That said, you can still be flexible. It might seem like a mixed message, but it is possible to be consistent with your routine and go with the flow.
For example, let’s say your little one is taking three or four naps a day. The first two are always the most restorative, so nap her at your home base (hotel, camper, etc.) for those rest times and schedule most activities in the afternoon.
Pack A Diaper Bag for Nap time Success
Being on the go (in a stroller or car seat) during the third and fourth naps won’t be as impactful to her overall sleep health, but to ensure you get the most out those sleeps, pack the essentials in your diaper bag, including a portable white noise machine (you can download an app on your phone or purchase something like this), a comfy outfit, and an extra blanket or portable fan (depending on the weather).
If she doesn’t nap well one day, try to take it easy the next day to make up for any accumulated sleep debt.
And remember: day sleep has a direct impact on night sleep, so consider shorter wake times when traveling, as the amount of stimulation could be higher during the day.
Give your child some ‘quiet breaks’ during the day. The long days, family gatherings, and overall excitement will expose your child to a lot of new faces, music, foods, sounds, and more.
While fun, these new things are very stimulating to a child (especially young babies). Make an effort to find little breaks for your child to get away:
• Spend a few extra minutes in the washroom with your child when they go potty, need a diaper change, or need to get cleaned up. This will give them a chance to take a break from the constant stimulation.
• When feeding your baby, take him or her to a separate room; this way you can dim the lights and sit quietly together.
Have a Family Meeting
Finally, if family members or friends pressure you to throw your schedule out the window, politely remind them you know what’s best for your kids and everyone will be happier if you’re family is well-rested.
It might be a good idea to discuss your children’s schedules and your expectations before the trip to make sure no one is surprised when you head back to home base for a nap or bedtime.
Traveling With Babies Sleep Tip #3: Make the Bedtime Routine a Priority
After a busy day of fun, be sure to allot plenty of time for a calming bedtime routine. This routine should be the exact same as the one you use at home.
If you don’t have a bedtime routine, start one before your trip! A good routine looks something like this:
1. Feeding or last snack of the day
3. Diaper, pajamas, sleep sack (if needed)
6. Sound machine on
7. Place in crib
8. Lights out
9. Leave room
Why is the bedtime routine important? Babies and toddlers have no way of telling time, and if your child is too young to understand words, he’ll depend on this routine to let him know it’s time to wind down for sleep. So, if your child is used to getting a bath and book before bed, make sure to allow time for this while traveling!
Also, feel free to slow down the routine and/or extend it a little. This will give your baby a few additional minutes to relax before it’s time for sleep.
Double check your packing list, stick to your child’s sleep schedule, and make bedtime a priority; it will help your entire family get some sleep while on vacation.
I can’t wait to help you get your little ones the sleep they need!
Safe travels, and sleep well!