3 Must-Know Tips For Preserving Sleep While Traveling With a Baby

Summer is nearly here, which for many of you will mean some traveling with a baby! For many parents, the idea of traveling with a baby can seem daunting. Balancing the excitement of new experiences with the need to maintain your little one’s sleep schedule can be challenging, but it’s definitely doable. Here are three essential tips to help you navigate the adventure of traveling with a baby while preserving their (and your!) precious sleep.


1. Pack the Right Tools


2. Do What You Can to Protect Sleep


3. Have Realistic Expectations 


Let’s jump right in!



Traveling With a Baby in a Carseat | The Peaceful Sleeper



Pack the Right Tools


Packing the right tools is crucial for ensuring your baby sleeps well while traveling. Here are some must-haves to include in your travel kit:


1. Sleepout Curtains:

Blocking out light is essential for helping your baby nap during the day and sleep well at night. Portable blackout curtains like Sleepout Curtains can be a lifesaver. Plus, you can use code THEPEACEFULSLEEPER for 10% off! 

For a quick and budget-friendly option, you can also use tinfoil to cover windows…works like a charm!


2. Portable Sound Machines:

A portable sound machine can create a consistent and soothing environment, masking unfamiliar noises that might disrupt your baby’s sleep. Look for compact and battery-operated models that are easy to pack.

White Noise Machines on Like To Know It | The Peaceful Sleeper

Click here to check out some of my favorite portable white noise machines!


3. Fan:

If you’re traveling to a hot destination, a small portable fan can help keep the sleeping area cool and comfortable, ensuring your baby doesn’t overheat. They’re also PERFECT for on-the-go!


4. Familiar Items:

Bring along pajamas, a sleep sack, and sheets from home. The familiar smell and feel of these items can provide comfort and a sense of security, making it easier for your baby to settle down in an unfamiliar environment.


5. Travel Mattress for Pack ‘n Play:

A comfortable travel mattress can make a world of difference. Ensure it fits well in your Pack ‘n Play and provides adequate support and a safe space for your baby.


If you haven’t already, download my FREE Ultimate Naps Guide. It’ll give you all the knowledge you need to help your baby (or toddler) take great naps! Download for free here 💤


Mom Holding Baby | The Peaceful Sleeper


Do What You Can to Protect Sleep


Maintaining your baby’s sleep schedule while traveling can be challenging, but there are strategies to help mitigate disruptions:


1. Flexibility with Naps:

Don’t stress about getting perfect nap lengths. Any amount of sleep is better than none. If your baby cries a bit, know that they might just need to release some energy before settling down. Trying to constantly adjust and soothe might over-stimulate them, making it harder for them to fall asleep. Just go with the flow when you need, and soothe them as much as needed for their sleep and yours!


2. Use Travel Tiredness to Your Advantage:

Traveling with little ones involves careful planning, especially when it comes to managing sleep disruptions caused by time zone changes and travel fatigue. To make the most of these inevitable interruptions, it’s essential to consider the duration of your travel and the time difference at your destination.


When traveling from West to East, such as from Las Vegas to Washington, D.C., strategizing your travel time can be beneficial. Departing early in the morning ensures that by the time you reach your destination in the late afternoon or early evening, your children are naturally tired from the day’s journey. Arriving around 4-6pm local time allows for a smooth transition back from the airport, followed by dinner and an early bedtime at around 8pm. Despite it still feeling like 5pm in their original time zone, the combination of travel exhaustion and the later hour usually helps children settle down for the night without much fuss.


Conversely, when traveling from East to West, such as returning from Washington, D.C. to Las Vegas, adjusting your flight schedule can help ease the transition. Opting for later flights that arrive in the evening enables your children to stay up a bit longer, closer to their usual bedtime at home. While the first day might be met with some grumpiness, they typically reset their internal clocks within a day or two, allowing for a smoother transition.


By strategically planning your travel schedule around your children’s natural sleep patterns and leveraging the effects of travel tiredness, you can help minimize disruptions and make the adjustment to a new time zone more manageable for the entire family.



Traveling With a Baby on a Plane | The Peaceful Sleeper



3. Plan Travel Around Sleep:

Schedule your travel during your baby’s nap or bedtime. For car trips, starting at the beginning of a nap can help them sleep through most of the journey. Alternatively, traveling right after a nap ensures they’re well-rested and more likely to be entertained. For longer trips, consider starting the drive after bedtime routine and do your best to ensure a smooth transfer to the bed upon arrival.


4. Talk to a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant:

If you need extra help understanding your baby’s sleep patterns and routines to determine the best travel timing, grab a 30 or 60 minute personal consultation!


If you haven’t already, download my FREE Ultimate Naps Guide. It’ll give you all the knowledge you need to help your baby (or toddler) take great naps! Download for free here 💤


Have Realistic Expectations


Traveling can be unpredictable, and it’s important to have realistic expectations about your baby’s sleep:


1. Flexibility is Key:

Accept that your baby’s sleep might be a bit off during travel. Be prepared to intervene more than usual to help them get the rest they need. If your baby is sleep-trained, it’s okay to go back to some rocking and soothing while you’re away. You can always do a quick reset with controlled crying once you’re back home.


2. Sleep Can Get Back on Track Once You’re Home:

Vacation and travel can be stressful enough without adding the pressure of developing “bad sleep habits.” Do what you need to help your baby rest as much as possible, and enjoy your time away. Remember, you can always get back on track with sleep training once you return home.



Traveling With a Baby in a Carseat | The Peaceful Sleeper



Recap of 3 Must-Know Tips For Preserving Sleep While Traveling With a Baby


Traveling with a baby can be challenging, but with the right preparation and mindset, it’s entirely manageable. By packing the essential tools, protecting your baby’s sleep as much as possible, and maintaining realistic expectations, you can make the experience smoother for both you and your little one. Remember, you’ve got this! And if you need any additional help or advice, we’re here to support you every step of the way.


I have an entire troubleshooting guide for traveling with kids in the 4-24 Months Content Library. And, if you would like personalized support with your baby’s specific sleep needs or have any other questions about navigating sleep with your baby while traveling, we would love to work with you. Hop on a call with one of our AMAZING Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultants!


Whether your little one is a newborn (0-4 Months Content Library), 4-24 months (4-24 Months Content Library), or a toddler (2-5 Years Content Library), we have the resources you need to get your family the sleep you all deserve!

Christine Lawler

Christine Lawler

MS, LMFT, Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant

Hi! I’m so glad you’re here! I’m a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, practicing for over 13 years. I’ve set out to do ALL of the research and I created a method to optimize baby sleep that is tuned in, empowering and WORKS. There absolutely should be joy in motherhood, and I have learned that every baby CAN get better sleep!

Read more about my team here.

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