An amazing destination awaits you, or maybe you are taking baby to meet family, and friends in your hometown, or both! In any case, you want to be able to enjoy this adventure. You don’t want to end up dragging yourself, and a tired, cranky baby from place to place, or worse not getting out at all because your just too darn exhausted. Baby, Mom, and Dad adventurers need sleep, and memorable adventures can’t happen without it.
Our little baby adventurer is now 8 months old, and took his first plane trip at about 3 months. Since then he’s traveled with us via plane about a half dozen more times, taken several car trips, and is even gearing up to take the train this weekend. Along the way, we’ve picked up little tricks that help him in the sleep department. Once we get to our destination, be it a hotel or family member’s home, the following have made a difference for us.
- As long as your baby is old enough, if you haven’t already, begin introducing a comfort item. These are also called transitional objects and lovies. We introduced Bergen’s comfort item (a frog/blanket) at about 5 months as he had good head control, and was rolling over, back to stomach, stomach to back. We gave him this comfort item each night before bed and with each nap, and he began associating it with sleep. To an extent, he’s able to self-sooth with the help of his frog blanket. Once your baby’s comfort item is introduced and established, make sure to bring it on your trip! We make sure it’s packed in one of our carry-on bags as it helps with plane sleep too.
- Your travel destinations can be filled with unfamiliar, unpredictable, and uncontrollable noises. White noise will help create a barrier between your baby’s sleep space, and those noises. And if your baby is already used to white noise while sleeping, like Bergen is, it will act like another comfort item or sleep association. At home Bergen’s white noise is actually a static radio station turned up fairly loud. On the road, we pack our “sound spa“, and give him exclusive rights to it.
- When planning your trip, think about the space your baby will actually be sleeping in. Maybe you co-sleep, have a bassinet close to your bed, or your baby sleeps in a crib in his or her own room. Whatever their sleep space might be, carefully plan what it will be like at your destination. Many hotels allow you to reserve a crib, but make sure to take care of the reservation ahead of time. There are also several types of travel cribs that are portable and easy to assemble. We chose the “Go Crib” because it’s super easy to use, light, and most importantly folds up into a backpack, making it easy to carry around. There are others out there, find the one that works best for you. If you do choose a travel crib, it also wouldn’t hurt to set it up at home, and have your little one try it out for a nap or two. You also want to be familiar with how it’s assembled, so that you are not stuck figuring it all out with a tired baby waiting for you.
- Make sure your baby will be warm enough in their sleep space. This may seem like a no brainer, but we overlooked it on our last trip to Phoenix. Thinking of the warm daytime temperatures of the desert, I packed light pajamas, and a light sleep sack for Bergen to sleep in at “Grandma’s house”. I didn’t realize that it gets chilly at night (at least in March), and the little guy was freezing! Maybe an exaggeration, but he definitely wasn’t completely comfortable. Off to the Goodwill we went to purchase some fleece PJ’s. While we haven’t experienced it, I’m sure the same goes for the other side of the temperature spectrum. If it is truly warm, try to not to overdress baby so that they are sweating through the sheets.
- Do you have a bed time routine at home? Does it work well for you? If the answer is yes, then mimic this routine as best you can at your destination. Even if you are putting baby down at a different time than at home, still try to, more or less, follow the same routine. This is comforting for baby, and baby will associate this routine with drifting off to the land of sleep. Think about your routine as you are packing for your trip. Do you have everything you’ll need, within reason, to make it happen?
- Even after we do all of the above, Bergen still does not sleep as well when traveling as he does at home. It’s tough to sleep in a different environment. We’ve had to shift our expectations. I know to expect Bergen to wake up during the night, which makes it easier to bear the 1:00 (& 3:00 & 5:00) calls for help. Then if he does have a “great night” of sleeping, I wake-up feeling like a million bucks!
Have great (or not so great) baby sleep experience? What works for you and your baby on the road? Please share by leaving a comment below!