How to Get Baby to Go to Sleep When You Travel
(7 Successful Tips –– from an Expert)
Once upon a time (perhaps not that long ago), you were the person on the plane who said, “Why can’t those parents keep their baby quiet? Doesn’t that kid ever sleep?”
Today, things are different. Now you’re the parent taking a baby on vacation. And like most parents, you’re probably a little nervous. What if your child won’t sleep?
Relax: I have 7 amazing tips that are parent-tested. Here are my 7 BEST tips to get Baby to sleep when you’re on the road (or in the air).
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Prepare Baby Ahead of Time
The best way to get your baby comfortable with sleep while traveling, is to do some prep work. Here’s how:
- Start setting your baby down for naps in the travel cot or car seat you’ll be using on your trip. This way, it won’t be brand-new when you go on your trip.
- White noise is a great way to help babies sleep. Play it around your baby so he gets used to the sound and begins to associate it with sleep.
- Play a video or an app with sounds of whatever type of transportation you’ll be using. This might be the sounds of a busy airport, the chug-chug of train wheels, or the hum of your car. This way the sounds won’t be as jarring to your baby when they’re for real.
Introduce these items at least two weeks before you plan to travel.
Bring the Right Gear
Making your baby as comfortable as possible is the key to getting him to sleep on a plane, train or in the car.
Try these best baby traveling gear items (if storage space permits):
- A comfortable car seat. This is an ideal item because you’ll use it at home, too.
- A sleep sack. For babies 3 months and under, a sleep sack will provide a comfortable “hug” that will helps them drift off.
- A travel cot. Make sure it’s safety-certified and that you buy it new.
- A stroller. If you’re traveling by plane or car, a foldable umbrella stroller is perfect for quick stops and layovers. The gentle motion can help soothe Baby to sleep. Make sure to only use an umbrella stroller if your infant is 6 months or older.
Want to Get Baby to Sleep on a Schedule? Find Out How
Bring Sleep Association Items
When you’re sleep-training your little one, you want to stay away from these. But when you’re traveling with a baby, familiar items –– called sleep association items –– can be the perfect way to help Baby drift off.
Consider bringing these:
- A familiar blanket. Now don’t be grossed out –– but your best bet is not to wash the blanket immediately before your trip. The familiar, “slept in” scent is part of the group of tactile sensations that soothe Baby.
- A “binkie” (pacifier), if this usually helps your infant fall asleep.
- A favorite, non-stimulating toy. Toys that keep Baby busy are fine to bring too, but you want one item that makes your infant feel cuddly.
- A toy that plays your baby’s favorite bedtime song.
Buy an Extra Ticket
I know –– tickets can be pricey. But if you can swing it, an extra seat on a plane, a larger cabin on a ship or just taking the bigger car can be a lifesaver to get your baby to sleep while you travel.
Find out whether you can get a reduced rate for traveling with a child under age 2.
Stick As Closely as You Can to Your Normal Schedule
This can be a challenge. If you can, arrange to be in the air, water or on the road during the time your baby would normally take her nap.
If you can be moving by the time you’d normally start settling Baby down, you’ll have time to relax from the stresses of keeping your travel schedule. Your baby will pick up on this and may be more relaxed, too.
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Make Your Destination Mimic Baby’s Home Environment
- If you use blackout blinds at home, and they’re portable, bring them along and hang them in the destination bedroom/hotel room.
- Use white noise, if that’s the way you do things at home.
- Follow your baby’s normal bedtime routine as closely as possible (book, bath and bed, for example).
- Bring the soap and shampoo your baby is used to.
- Set up the travel cot/travel crib the way you set up Baby’s crib at home. If possible, use the same blanket or sleep sack you normally do.
Keep Your Expectations Realistic
Above all, remember: travel can knock anyone out of his or her element. Babies are no exception to this. And unlike you, your baby can’t simply tell herself not be afraid or overstimulated.
If you absolutely can’t get your baby to go to sleep while you’re traveling, do your best to at least keep her as quiet as you can. But again, don’t stress. You’re doing your best, and so is she. And chances are, the other people on the plane or train have been where you are.
If all else fails (and I never say this, so it’s a big deal!) –– just do what it takes to get by. For the duration of a short trip, that could mean comfort feedings, an extra book or two at bedtime, or even walking Baby up and down the aisle if it’s safe to do so.
Having trouble getting Baby back to her regular sleep routine after your vacation? Contact me today for gentle baby sleep training that’s worked for hundreds of parents around the globe. (It’ll work for your baby, too!)
Happy trails to you and Baby!