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14 Tips to Help Your Baby Sleep Better on Vacation

Summer is fast approaching or maybe even already here for some of us. Summer is known for its long days, vacations, road trips, and outdoor adventures. Summer is fun! And sleep is not. For many families, it is a struggle to figure out how to balance the fun of summer with the need of sleep. Babies, toddlers, teens, and adults alike function best when they are getting the sleep they need. Today I am sharing some of my favorite sleep tips to use while traveling, and I have recruited some other experienced moms and professionals to share their top tips as well! And all of the mentioned products are completely 100% un-sponsored. They really are just our favorites. Enjoy!

Marietta Paxson: Mom to three (three and under), AMFT and owner of Little Dreamers

1. I am a type A mom. That means my routine at home provides me comfort and safety. That also means when we travel I get anxious and worried because I lose the protection of my routine. If you are a mom like me, the greatest piece of advice I can give you is to relax and go with the flow. Remember that your consistency from day to day at home has helped your children to be well rested and to feel secure, safe, and in control. Those things do not just disappear the second they take a shorter nap or go to bed slightly later. Remind yourself that your vacation is the exception, be flexible, enjoy this time together without the worries and hustle and bustle of life. It will be okay. Your children will probably become tired and grumpy at some point on your trip, and you will recognize that they need sleep and you will find a way to get them some sleep. I also feel the need to say that this advice is strictly for our type A moms. If it is not hard for you to be flexible and spontaneous, please keep reading for tips specifically for you!

2. Tin foil and painter’s tape will be your best friend on your trip. Having a dark room while sleeping for naps and early mornings can make a big difference on vacation, where it probably wouldn’t matter at home. Tin foil and painters tape is the easiest and cheapest way to achieve a dark room. And let’s not forget, it is also damage free which is kind of a big deal when you are staying on someone else’s property!

3. When traveling, it can be hard for your baby to fall asleep, especially for naps. I often tell clients that when traveling it is okay to help your baby fall asleep. You may decide to let your baby suck on the binky when it is close to a nap time or perhaps nurse him to sleep. Whatever you do to help you baby fall asleep on vacation is okay! My only word of warning is that you also understand that whatever you do to help your child fall asleep on vacation will then have to be undone once you return home. It will be like sleep training all over again. However, this time it will go much quicker because your child already knows how to do and just needs to be reminded. Also, just because you helped your baby fall asleep out and about for his nap does not mean you need to help him fall asleep at night when he has his normal nighttime routine and sleep gear. Do the least amount needed so you have to undo the least amount possible!

4. Finally if you are planning on doing naps on the go (in the stroller or carrier: more tips on this below) then I would suggest purchasing a portable sound machine. It will help drown out any unexpected or expected loud noises. And if your children are anything like my children, they will sleep through anything BUT the sound of my voice! The noise machine helps me be able to talk when my children are sleeping. I recommend this one!

Camilia Lund: Mom to adorable Peter, Professional Photographer and World Traveler

1. When Peter was 7 months, we went to Costa Rica. Traveling at that age was easier. Our flight left early, like 6 am, so we had to be at the airport way early. We woke Peter up at 3:30 am, went to the airport, and once we were on the plane, he was so ready for his nap. I use a Covered Goods nursing cover because it covers me completely and helps him zone out to fall asleep because he can’t see what’s going on around him. Planes have natural white noise, which can make sleeping on a plane super easy.

2, Try to keep your baby on his regular nap and bedtime schedule. We had a rental car and timed our outings in the car with naps. Other times, we would use a carrier for nap time. This worked great for a morning hike or walk around the city. We also planned our trip so that after dinner, we just stayed in our hotel so our baby could sleep. It worked out well for us, and we were so ready to relax anyway.

3. We recognized that sometimes our baby would not be able to have his naps at the exact same time every day. I recommend keeping an eye on their cues, noticing when they are tired and then providing a place to fall asleep. We would quickly put him in the Ergobaby carrier, and he would fall asleep easily when he was tired. I would occasionally put him in that while breastfeeding, so we could continue our travels without stopping to nurse. It's easier than it sounds! The Ergobaby was also great for the plane ride. I would put the Ergobaby on loosely to breastfeed, and he would fall asleep. The Ergobaby held him in position, and I could use my arms as I pleased instead of having to hold him. He seemed to sleep longer being more secure in the Ergobaby than in my arms anyway. There were even times I would put the Covered Goods wrap over him while he was sleeping in the Ergobaby to help him sleep longer.

Brynne Wise: Mom to cute Holland and Beachbody Coach

1. When traveling to Europe, we found it helped Holland (8 months) transition by NOT having him sleep on the plane there. We kept him stimulated and awake, which wasn't hard because it was so new to him. Then when we arrived, he was tired and ready to sleep for the night when it was only 1pm MT. If you're going somewhere where the time zones are different switch them right away, and they will transition easier!

2. We made sure he was used to sleeping in his stroller. We got an umbrella stroller that had a "laying down" feature (Baby Jogger umbrella stroller), and did a test run a few times before we traveled internationally. Since we knew he could sleep in it, we planned his naps in the stroller from sun up to sun down.

3. At night, we did our best to create an environment just like at home. We brought the same white noise, we brought his bed sheet, and set up his bed exactly as it looks at home. (Sheet, stuffed animal in one corner, small blanket in another, binkies in another, white noise playing). And we continued with our same bedtime routine (shower, lotion, scriptures, song, book, song) so he knew it was time to sleep a long time! He woke up a few times each night, which we expected and quickly soothed him back to sleep.

Christine Lawlor: Mom to two, LMFT and fellow sleep consultant at The Peaceful Sleeper

1. Plan your travel times wisely. If you must interrupt sleep, waking up early or missing the morning nap is easier than staying up late into the night. Avoid long layovers, if possible. Book direct flights whenever possible. If you are setting off on a road trip, know how your children sleep on the go and plan accordingly.

2. Ensure that your destination will have a pack-n-play available for you, or bring your own. There is a great travel pack-n-play here. Many parents plan to co-sleep on vacation, but I don’t recommend it if it can be avoided. If you don’t co-sleep at home, everyone’s sleep quality will be much poorer if you try to do it on vacation.

3. Get a rental house or a hotel suite. AirBnB and VRBO have great, affordable options to rent a whole house or condo. You’ll get the very best sleep if children are in their own rooms (or spaces) and out of your sight completely. The darker the better. Walk-in closets and large bathrooms are where we usually set up our pack-n-play on vacation. If they can see you from their crib when they roll over at 5:30 am… then they’ll want to wake up at 5:30. That is not my idea of a vacation, especially when almost nothing is open that early.

4. Get a room with a balcony and a view. If you have little ones that need naps, someone is going to be stuck in a hotel room for a couple hours. If you can be eating lunch on the balcony, working on your tan, or reading a book in the soft breeze you’ll still be enjoying your vacation. Plan to spend a little extra money to “splurge” on things like in-room movies so an early night in still feels like an opportunity for fun.

There are some gold nuggets in that advice. I hope you got what you were looking for, but if you have a specific situation and you would like some additional help, feel free to ask during one of my LIVE and FREE Q&A’s on Facebook. I gather questions every Tuesday and go LIVE Wednesdays at 8pm MT answering your sleep questions! Thanks so much and happy travels!


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