Learn my top tips and tricks for successfully traveling with your baby.
Traveling with your baby is a great way to mix things up and ensure that they’re able to adapt to new surroundings. In order to make your trip as enjoyable as possible (and get as much sleep as possible), there is a bit of prep work involved. Here you’ll find my tried and true tips for a great vacation.
Before we jump in, I need to let you know that the most crucial part of your child sleeping well during a trip is how well they sleep at home. If your child has not yet mastered independent sleep, there’s still time! In as little as a few days, we can help them become a great little sleeper. Find out more here.
Depending on the age of your child, you can begin prepping them for the trip. Children do best when they know about changes before they happen. About 7-10 days before the trip, take these action steps.
Introduce the sleep space you plan on using during your trip. Whether it be a pack n play or a portable crib, practice a few naps and allow them to explore this space. When using a SlumberPod, set it up with them in the room and practice a few naps with it on their pack n play or crib.
Pack a sleep sack/swaddle that they’ve worn for a few nights so that it smells like their home/bed.
Read books to your child about car or airplane trips, the beach, vacation, or anything that aligns with what you might be doing while traveling.
Gather snacks and activities for baby or toddler while traveling. This is a great time to introduce novel toys and snacks in order to keep your child entertained.
Use pretend play to model what to expect (i.e., little people going on an airplane, in a car, sleeping in a new place)
Role play what it will be like sleeping in a new room. For older children (2.5+) model what will happen if they call out for you during the night. Give them a turn to be the “parent”, while you pretend to be the child.
Leave as close as possible to your child’s regular bedtime. Since sleep drive is high around this time, most babies and toddlers will fall asleep relatively quickly once you start driving.
Do your normal bedtime routine and put on their pajamas before placing them into the car.
Set up a Portable Blackout Curtain with suction to stick on your child’s window to block out the setting sun and/or lights from outside the car.
Place a Portable Sound Machine (with fresh batteries) in the backseat to block out noise.
If you need to stop for feedings/diaper changes/ or if you’ve been in the car for more than 6 hours, that’s fine, just replace your curtains and sound machine once you begin driving again.
One parent should take the items required for sleep to the room first. They can set up the pack-n-play, sound machine, and anything else required for sleep.
If your baby is still in an infant car seat, go ahead and carry the car seat into the room they’ll be sleeping in. You can then change their diaper and feed them if need be, place them in their sleep sack or swaddle, and put them down for bed.
The next morning, get them up close to their normal wake time even if this means waking them. The closer to their regular schedule we can keep things, the better chance of them getting good sleep while traveling.
It is okay if some naps are on the go. However, I recommend making sure that at least one nap occurs in your child’s sleep space.
When staying out later than bedtime, a bridge nap may be helpful in order to get your child to bedtime without becoming overtired.
A bridge nap is a very short nap (15-20 minutes.) It relieves just enough sleep pressure so that we can extend our day.
Complete your bedtime routine as you normally do.
Allow for at least 15-20 minutes of calm down time where they are away from other people and able to relax before bedtime.
In the end, you may end up intervening more than you would like. Often when you’re traveling with your baby, we’re worried about our child crying too loud at night and waking up others. If things deviate from your normal nights, that’s okay. You’ll adjust and get right back to regularly scheduled programming once you return.
· Pack n play and accessories (SlumberPod, etc.)
· Portable blackout curtains
· Sound machine (with batteries)
· Sleep sack/swaddle
· Small night light for diaper changes/feedings
· Bottles, feeding utensils, bottle brush, sippy cups, etc.
· Novel toys
· Medicines (just in case)
· Diapers/diaper cream/wipes
*This list is not exhaustive – just many of the things you would bring regardless of the length of trip and location
SlumberPod: Definitely an investment but if you travel more than a couple of times per year, it’s worth it. You can also use my code THEGOODNIGHTGUIDE$20 for $20 off.
Portable Sound Machine: A must for the car, on-the-go naps, and throughout the night.
Portable Blackout Curtains: Suction cup curtains, perfect for a nighttime car trip and the sleep space.
Blow Up Toddler Bed: Comes with a pump, blows up quickly, and has sides so they won’t fall out.
Whirly Squigg Toys: Stick them on a window, glass door, or on the table while out to eat.
Also, the Dollar Store is your friend! Grab a bunch of stickers, little toys, and snacks for the trip! Enjoy traveling with your baby!
Enjoy your trip!
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