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Sleep Travel Tips for Babies

Updated, July 4, 2022 – After 2 years of travel restrictions, families are ready to visit faraway relatives, re-do postponed vacations and just get out of the house! Baby’s sleep habits and routines might get thrown out the window during travel. And that’s okay because travel is hard on adults too! But if you’d like to minimize meltdowns during your holiday, here are five sleep travel tips for you won’t need a vacation from your vacation. 

Sleep Travel Tips for Babies
Sleep Travel Tips for Babies

Sleep Travel Tips for Babies

Practice at home.

  • Many times babies are not used to sleeping in a travel bed or pack-n-play. So, put baby in a travel bed for naps at home in the weeks leading up to the trip. Your child might think this new crib is exciting, so go ahead and get the novelty out of the way at home when you’re well rested!

Keep sleep routine as close to home as possible to help baby feel safe and secure.

  • Dress your baby in the pajamas/sleepsack/swaddle blanket that she’s used to.
  • If renting a full-sized travel crib from a hotel, bring bedsheets from the crib at home to recreate that familiar sleep environment.
  • Sing the same bedtime songs you sing at home and read favorite books.

New places and not being at home is exciting for little ones. Remember that patience is your best tool to help your child get to sleep. They need time to explore The New Place and maybe get over being a little nervous outside of home

Try to stay on baby’s time.

  • If possible, try to keep naptimes and bedtimes as close to the same schedule as at home.
  • When traveling across time zones, gradually adjust baby’s bedtime in the days leading up to the trip so baby is on the time of your destination. You can do this by adjusting bedtime in 10 minute increments.
  • Some parents like to travel at night so baby can sleep and wake up in destination refreshed. If you’re driving, partners can alternate napping and caring for baby during the first day. If you’re flying, make sure to bring pacifiers to help with ear discomfort.

Remember these Sleep Travel Tips for Babies Once You’ve Arrived…

Don’t rely on swings or strollers for safe sleep.

  • While it’s tempting to let a sleeping baby spend the night in a carseat or stroller, the only safe place for babies to sleep for extended periods is alone and flat on their backs.
  • Follow the recommendations of the American Association of Pediatrics and the “Back to Sleep” campaign by creating a safe sleep environment.

Slow it down.

  • Don’t expect to have a jam-packed site seeing schedule. All the new sights, sounds, and experiences are very stimulating and exciting for baby. Baby could get fussy if overstimulated and too exhausted.
  • Remember that sleep begets sleep. Keeping baby awake longer may work for one night or one nap, but fighting against baby’s natural rhythms leads to meltdown.
  • While it is nice to have alone time with your partner, caring for a baby can be even more exhausting than usual when traveling. Try no not stay up too late yourself!

Have Surprises Ready!

Part of travel is, well, the traveling. Extended times in the car, train or place can get a little boring so be prepared with toys, books and snacks that your baby hasn’t seen before. It can be something simple from the dollar store; the novelty of a new toy will take up time and keep little one occupied. For a little while anyway! 🙂

COVID19 and Travel with Kids

  • The COVID19 pandemic remains a fluid situation. Check CDC Travel Recommendations to your destination before you go so you can be prepared and comfortable.
  • While airlines have dropped mask mandates, it’s not a bad idea to carry masks with you to use in crowded areas. Of course everyone’s level of comfort with this is different but masks certainly can’t hurt to keep germs away.
  • Sanitizer is another easy way to keep germs away during travel. Handwashing is best way to stay clean, but if you don’t have the opportunity to properly wash your hands, sanitizer is a good second option.

We hope you stay safe, healthy and meltdown-free during your vacation!