Traveling with your baby, especially over the holidays, can be super stressful. And that stress can be compounded if your baby isn’t getting great sleep during the travels!

You’ve spent more time prepping for the trip than the time you will actually spend ON the trip. You’ve been prepping food, packing (and repacking) the car, doing 5,000 loads of laundry, and wondering how on earth one tiny human could need so many things for only a few nights away.

So naturally, the last thing you want while visiting family for the holidays is to run out of wine. And the second last thing you want is for you and your baby to get LESS sleep than usual. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you are trying to get your baby to sleep during travel or put your baby to sleep at someone else’s house, here are 5 tips to ensure the best possible experience (and save you money on wine!) 

a baby about to nap while traveling in a car | The Peaceful Sleeper

1. Sleep Aids While On The Go 

If you are planning on traveling over a nap or at night, there are a few things you can do to help that sleep actually happen.  First, bring a portable white noise machine (and for goodness’ sake, the charger!!!). Alternatively, you could turn the radio to a no-signal station with static, however that may not be well received by your adult traveling companion(s). Having the white noise will allow you and your partner to argue chat about your impending visit with family, without distracting your little one from sleep.

Secondly, a car seat or nursing cover can help create a dark space for your baby to sleep. Just make sure it doesn’t get too warm in there. If your baby uses a sleep sack or is older and has a lovey, it can be helpful to give that to your baby to hold/snuggle as they fall asleep. Essentially, you are trying to recreate that optimal sleep environment while in the car, as best you can. 


2. Children’s Melatonin

I have had great success with using children’s melatonin in situations where my toddler’s sleep is being thrown off a little. You can talk to your pediatrician to discuss dosage and whether they recommend this for your child, however when my children are over two years old, I always give one-third of a milligram which is a child’s dose. 


3. Timing

a baby in his mothers arms traveling on an airplane | The Peaceful Sleeper

I know what you’re thinking. Timing can be hard enough while at home, let alone while traveling. I hear you. However, if you plan ahead, there are things you can do to make it as smooth as possible that glass of wine we’ve been talking about. 

If you are crossing time zones, it can be especially tricky. If you are traveling west to east (new time will be ahead of your home time) then follow the new time. So if it’s 6:30pm and time to start the bedtime routine but feels like 4:30pm, go ahead anyway. Your baby should be tired from the long day of travel. Consider waking your baby in the morning to get back on track. If you are traveling east to west (new time is behind your home time), try to stick with the local time. You will have to push bedtime to the new time, so squeezing in a nap before bed will help. 

You can also try scheduling your travel plans around naps and bedtime. Consider what would be best for YOUR child; starting the drive right at the beginning of the nap so they sleep for most of the trip, or getting in the car right after their nap so they are well rested and will be happily begrudgingly entertained with a few toys.

If it is a longer trip, some people also have success with starting the drive right after bedtime routine, and crossing every finger and toe that baby will stay asleep and make the transfer to bed once they arrive. This is very much dependent on what will work best for your child. If you feel you could use some extra help looking at your baby’s sleep patterns and routines to determine the best timing for traveling, reach out to us for a 30 or 60 minute personal consultation!  


4. Sleep Space – Where Baby Sleeps When Traveling

toddler sleeping in a new environment as his family travels with him | The Peaceful Sleeper

Once you get to your destination, sleep can continue to be as tricky as wrestling a toddler into a too-tight romper. Whether you are in a hotel or someone else’s house, try your very best to secure your baby their own sleep space.

If this means racing your in-laws to the upstairs room at the back of the house, or relegating yourself to the pull-out couch so that your baby can have the hotel bedroom, then I say “do it!”  If you don’t want to be rude or really need a bed for your own good night’s sleep, then get creative with the space you have.

Some options are putting the bassinet or pack n play in a well-ventilated closet, bathroom, or rearranging furniture to create a distraction-free space. To make the sleep space as dark as possible, bring garbage bags/tin foil for windows, or you can buy travel blackout curtains.

If there are too many windows or other sources of light, consider getting a slumberpod to put the bassinet or pack n play in. Putting the effort into creating a sleep space that is as close as possible to the one your baby is used to, will pay off. 


5. Don’t Stress 

baby waking up from a nap on a vacation | The Peaceful Sleeper

As previously determined, traveling over the holidays can be stressful enough without also worrying about your baby’s sleep. Accept that things will be a little off and that you will have to intervene more than usual to help your baby get the sleep they need.

If you have a sleep trained baby, it’s ok to go back to some rocking and soothing. When you get back home, you can do a quick reset with some CIO if needed.

However, while you are traveling and on vacation, skip the CIO. Do what you need to do to help your baby be as rested as possible. After all, visiting family over the holidays is supposed to be painful fun! So try and enjoy your holiday and know that if things go a little downhill, you will be able to get back on track once you are home.

Recap of Baby Sleep When Traveling

Getting quality baby sleep while traveling IS possible! Here are some important things to remember:

  • Use sleep aids like white noise machines, blackout curtains, etc.
  • Use children’s melatonin when in a pinch (consult your pediatrician before doing so)
  • Try to time the travel around a nap/sleep schedule that works best for your child
  • Do your best to mimick their home sleeping environment by keeping it dark, cool, and quiet if possible
  • Don’t stress and be willing to switch things up for this temporary time

With these ideas, you can have a baby that sleeps well on vacation!

If your baby is older than 4 months and not yet sleep trained, then check out my 4-24 month video course to walk you through the process!

If you would like a deeper dive into all the ins and outs of traveling with children then grab my 4-24 month guide pack or my 2-5 year guide pack as they both have my Troubleshooting Guide: Travelling with Kids.

Safe and happy traveling!