Sleep is an important way to increase the wellbeing of babies and parents alike. Making sure that everyone in the family is well-rested will guarantee even more enjoyment and relaxation when on vacation. If your toddler or baby gets homesick and antsy when they are in a new, unfamiliar environment, you just have to plan ahead and implement a few easy steps to ensure a good night's sleep when traveling as a family. If you’ve booked a hotel for the family, here is your guide to getting a good night’s sleep, even in tight, unfamiliar quarters.
How to get a good night’s sleep when traveling with a baby
Don’t skimp on naps
It can be easy to get so busy when traveling that your baby misses out on one of their usual naps. It is super important to avoid this at all costs because an over-tired baby is often even more resistant to falling asleep than a rested one. Try to plan your day around your baby's usual nap time. You can even let them fall asleep in the car while driving or the stroller, if you don’t have time to go back to the hotel for a nap. Just make sure they’re getting some type of nap throughout the day so they aren’t over tired by the evening.
Tip: Never leave your baby unattended while napping in the car. Always remain in the vehicle with them, with the engine running.
If returning to the hotel for nap time is an option for you, this is definitely a good idea. Having your baby nap in the travel crib that they will be spending the night in can help them get used to this new area before bed time arrives.
Pack a travel crib or playpen
A good travel crib is one of the best ways to keep your baby comfortable at night. Most travel cribs are easily foldable and lightweight, making them easy to pack. Having a travel crib or playpen set up in your hotel room also gives you a safe place to set down your baby when you need to step away. Hotel rooms are definitely not baby-proof so reserving a safe spot for your baby is super important.
Some hotels do offer a crib if you forget to pack your own or simply don’t have the space to pack it. Make sure to contact the hotel ahead of time, if you don’t plan to bring your own, to ensure that a crib is available to you.
Stick to your typical bedtime routine
Try your best to replicate whatever your baby is used to for their bedtime routine at home. Still plan to read your baby their usual bedtime stories in the evening, give them their bedtime snack, and brush their teeth. This will help remind them of home and make them feel more comfortable.
Utilize a white noise machine
Since hotel rooms aren’t always the most spacious, it may be hard to keep the noise down after your baby falls asleep — especially if their bedtime is 7PM. If you don’t want to have to go to bed that early while on vacation, you can pack a white noise machine to try to keep the noise down after bedtime. You can even download a smartphone app that will play white noise from your phone without you having to pack any extra items.
Use bag clips or trash bags to keep out extra light
Most hotel rooms aren’t exactly designed with young families in mind and can sometimes have big windows with curtains that don’t entirely keep the light out. It only takes one little sliver of light in the morning to wake your baby up way earlier than usual. To avoid this issue, you can pack some black trash bags to tape over hotel windows, or you can use bag clips to clip curtains together and seal off any additional light exposure.
Be prepared to provide extra comfort measures
Your baby will most likely notice that they aren’t in their usual environment and this may cause them to act extra needy. Be prepared to comfort and soothe them a bit more than usual and definitely don’t try to tackle any new sleep training or night weaning goals while away from home.
Bring items from home
Any extra items from home that can make your baby feel at home like blankets, stuffed animals, and pajamas will help them stay calm and sleep better. Using your child’s crib sheets from home can also provide familiarity and remind them of their usual bed. Pack their favorite comfort items like blankets, stuffed animals, and binkies.
Have some patience and set realistic expectations
Understand that getting your child to fall asleep (and stay asleep) in an unfamiliar place, like a hotel room, is not always going to be easy. It will most likely take more effort than it usually does at home, so be patient! If your child has recently started sleeping through the night in their own crib, be prepared for some digression while traveling. You have to adjust to your given circumstances and sometimes that means giving in a little — it won’t ruin the hard work you’ve put in at home.
Pack your toddler’s favorite foods
Toddlers often sleep better when they have a full stomach, so make sure to bring some of their favorite foods and snacks so that they can eat a nice full dinner before bed.
Book a larger room (if possible)
This one isn’t always an option for everyone, since most traveling families are on a budget. But if it is within your means to book a double room or suite, then this could definitely improve your quality of sleep. Having a separate area for the baby to sleep can allow you to enjoy your evening after the baby’s bedtime, without worrying as much about waking them up.
You don’t have to accept poor sleep when staying in a hotel with your baby. Plan ahead and pack the right items to achieve a restful night’s sleep for the entire family.