A vacation should be fun, exciting, an adventure! Unfortunately, that’s not always the case; especially anytime you travel with a baby. Not only do you have to plan everything extra you need to pack for baby, you also have to figure out how in the world you’re going to get your little one to sleep while you travel. I’ve been there and that challenge can turn any vacation into a stressful, tiring time instead of a fun adventure together. Because I’ve been there, I have a few baby sleep travel tips that will help make your next trip much more relaxing and enjoyable.
Establish a Routine
Establish a routine in your little one’s life as soon as possible. Kids in general, and babies especially, thrive on routine. If you haven’t started one yet, it’s not too late. Every baby’s routine looks different. You might read a specific book and sing a special song before putting your baby down. Close the curtains, turn on some white noise and give your little one a special blanky or stuffed animal. I always recommend a box fan for white noise. Of course, this isn’t very realistic to travel with if you have to fly, so just do your best. Follow this routine every time you put your baby down.
Help Prep Baby Before Traveling
Obviously, when you’re traveling your little one isn’t going to be able to sleep in his room or his own crib. If your baby has never slept in a pack and play, nap him in one a few times leading up to the trip. I wouldn’t do this immediately before the trip because your best bet is to start your trip with a well-rested baby. A week or two before, though, set the pack and play up in your little one’s room for a nap. You might even set it up in a different room so he gets used to a change of scenery.
Set the Right Environment
Now that you’re on the road, get ready to recreate that sleeping environment and routine wherever you’re staying. Bring the pack and play, bring the white noise, bring the special book and bring the lovey. When it’s time to put your little one down, do everything just as you would at home. Read the book, sing the song and put him down.
Finding your little one his own space is always ideal, but not always possible. I’ve been known to use laundry rooms, walk in closets or extra bathrooms for my baby’s sleeping quarters when visiting family. I also always travel with a dark sheet and tacks. If your baby doesn’t have his own room, you can at least create his own space. I tack up the sheet around the pack and play so the rest of the family is out of view. He might cry a little, but just keep at it. In no time, he’ll be snoozing away and you can enjoy your vacation and even sip on that much needed margarita!
Bring Blackout Shades
Fun in the sun is not so fun if your baby is waking super early or having trouble falling asleep for the night.
Be sure to bring some travel shades with you. If this is not possible a great hack is to bring a roll of aluminum foil. Simply wet the window, and roll the foil out over it. Not only will you get the room dark, you will also keep the heat out.
Keep Realistic Expectations
It’s important that you keep your expectations realistic. Vacation with a baby won’t be the same as vacation without, but it can still be enjoyable. If you’re flying half the day with a plane change in the middle, you can’t realistically expect your little one to take his two hour nap right on the dot as usual. Be happy with a 45-minute cat nap halfway through the flight.
A 6-hour car ride with a baby who takes long naps in the car is rather peaceful; a 6-hour car ride with a baby who doesn’t sleep in the car is a whole other story. Don’t let a rough start to your trip ruin the rest. On travel days, throw the routine out the window and plan to readjust as soon as you’re settled.
It’s also helpful to remember these baby sleep travel tips won’t just help on a vacation, but any time you travel with baby away from home. A play date with an older sibling is still doable and even enjoyable when you can find an empty room to put baby down. A trip to grandma and grandpa’s to show off the newest addition can be done while keeping your little one on some sort of routine. No missed sleep equals a happy baby and a happy mama.
Your first trip may not go as smoothly as you had hoped, but keep at it. The more you travel, the better your baby will get at traveling and snoozing while traveling.