Tips for Traveling With a Baby (and Still Getting Sleep)

smiling baby in a black travel playpen with his father smiling behind him

While the holidays may look a bit different this year, we know many people will still be on the road visiting loved ones - for the day, for the week (maybe even for the long haul as we balance life with little ones during this pandemic!) - so we are sharing some top tips for traveling with a baby that have helped us and our littles ones stay rested while on the go.


1. Importance of Pre-Travel Sleep

Keep your routine consistent before you hit the road. You may think getting in the car for a long drive with a tired baby will help ('this will be great, he's tired so he'll sleep the whole ride') - but it's important that you start your journey with a well-rested baby. Overtired can turn into a disaster quickly - so be prepared and make sure baby (and you!) are well rested!


2. Mimic the Sleeping Environment 

If your baby is used to her / his own room at home, trying to keep consistency will be important. If your baby isn't used to sharing a space, it can throw things off - try to plan ahead for a separate space, which could be a separate living room if you're in a hotel, or even using a room divider if staying with family. When we travel, we put our son in the bedroom to sleep while we hang out in the family room, but all end up sleeping in one room. It's made for some interesting adventures, but it's important to not stress yourself out over a less-than-perfect setup.


3. Consistent Bedtime Routines 

It may sound like overkill, but traveling with your sound machine, sleep sack, crib sheets, and even lamp (I'm not kidding, I do this...) helps to create the same bedtime routine, and is critical for your little one feeling ready for bed away from home. This also goes for any special books you may read, a lovey they may sleep with, a 'lucky' pacifier - you get it!


4. Focus on One Good Nap

It can be really challenging when you are visiting family and friends (or when they are visiting you) to stick to a nap schedule. Everyone wants to see the baby, and doesn't always understand when nap time rolls around. If your baby is taking more than one nap a day, try to get one of those naps, preferably the morning nap, to be in the room where they'll be sleeping for the night. This allows them to start the day rested - and gives you a bit of freedom for a second on-the-go nap (car seat, stroller, etc.).


5. Just Go With It

As parents, we spend so much time thinking about baby sleep - routines, environment, timing, etc. that it can make a deviation from that routine really challenging (often more for us than baby). BUT it's important to remember that when you're on the go, things don't happen like they do at home. It's just a simple fact. Things will get thrown off a bit, the room may not be totally dark for a nap, the list goes on...

Don't beat yourself up, enjoy the time with family, listen to your little ones cues, and remember that when you get home, you can pick right back up with where you left off!



*photo via Baby Bjorn