Managing Baby Sleep When Traveling

mom holding baby asleep on airplane

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An Ultimate Guide

Even at home, baby sleep can seem like a magical unicorn that visits once in a blue moon. But baby sleep when traveling? HA! Impossible right?

Not so fast! It’s not impossible. In fact, it’s totally achievable! But it does take preperation and a few tricks.

You’re here for the tricks you say? Well I’m here to give them to you. Keep on reading!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.

Baby Sleep When Traveling Is Possible!

But how? First, let’s talk about consistency.

Babies and toddlers LOVE structure. They likely won’t show it. The baby might cry and the toddler might sass.

But deep down, a solid routine makes them feel safe. And feeling safe is a great precursor for quality sleep.

So for my first decree…

Develop a Short and Simple Sleep Routine

Your routine shouldn’t be too long or complex. It should be easy to replicate anywhere, for both naps and bedtime.

If your routine involves some toy or device that is only available to you at home, then it needs revising!

Mama, I know it’s tempting to squeeze as much into the bedtime routine as possible. After all, you want all the snuggles you can get.

But trust me, brevity is your friend.

Here’s my routine with LC. He is 19 months old and this has been his sleep routine for naps and bedtime for at least a year, perhaps longer.

  • Carry to bedroom
  • Diaper change
  • Pajamas
  • Lights off
  • Sound machine on
  • Brief snuggle and kisses
  • Lay down in crib

That’s it! Sweet, short, and simple. No matter where you are, this routine will signal to your child’s brain that sleep is coming.

A while back we purchased a Hatch Baby Rest and it has some great features that fit right in to our existing routine.

It’s small enough to travel in your luggage, and connects to your phone through blue tooth. No more relying on the hotels sketchy WiFi!

I have the favorites set up to compliment our sleep routine

First, light set to rainbow colors and sound set to lullaby. LC loves to watch the colors during his diaper change.

A simple tap on the top ring changes it to my second programmed setting. Light set to off and sound set to white noise.

Check out the Hatch Baby Rest -> HERE

Baby Sleep Environment

Another thing too mention when talking about consistency is sleep environment.

I recommend keeping your baby’s sleep environment the same whenever possible.

If baby normally sleeps with a night light, bring it.

Does your baby sleeps in complete darkness? Make it happen!

If baby sleeps in a crib, then dismantle it for every trip and bring it along. Stow the large wooden pieces in 9 different checked bags!

Wait what?

I’m kidding of course. For mamas who travel often, I recommend starting your little one in a great travel crib from the start.

There are a few good ones to choose from. My baby has slept in a  Guava Lotus Crib from birth and I have not regretted it for a single second.

This crib has seemingly small features that pay off big time when it comes to travel.

It’s a much lighter weight than the average pack n play and is easier and quicker to set up and take down.

It packs down small and the case turns into a backpack, perfect for taking as a carry on.

The side unzips, which is great for lying next to a newborn until he falls asleep and sneaking away without moving him, and also fun for a toddler to crawl in and out of during play time.

Check out the Guava Lotus Crib -> HERE

Travel Gear For Sleep

There are a couple tools I bring along during travel if I want my baby to sleep.

First, is the Cozigo. This awesome blackout device clips to just about any carseat or stroller and creates a breathable dark blackout environment, perfect for sleep.

You can check out the Cozigo -> HERE

The second is my favorite travel sound machine. This baby is loud enough to block out loud airport and airplane announcements and has a few different sound options. The white noise is perfect for my son and the sound is continuous. It’s also rechargeable!

Check out the Marpac Hushh Travel Sound Machine -> HERE

Now let’s get more specific. There are three main places you might want your baby to sleep while you are traveling. The airplane, the airport, and the hotel room.

The Airplane

Ah yes, every traveling mama’s dream. For baby to sleep the entire flight away while you enjoy a good movie and a snack (and if you’ve got a moment, drink some water. Gotta stay hydrated!)

Sorry to say, that scenario probably won’t happen very often. Of course airplane naps may come easier for little bitty babies under 6 months old.

But as baby grows older and closer to toddler age, it gets trickier.

Thankfully, you can begin planning ahead for this even before you buy tickets.

If you have an older baby or a toddler under two who will be sitting in your lap, I highly recommend not trying to get your baby to sleep on the plane.

It will be harder to get your little to sleep and if you do, you will be stuck! It will be hard to reach anything, hard to eat or drink, and you’re out of luck if you have to use the restroom.

mom and baby on airplane

Night Flights

Also, this may be controversial, but I DO NOT recommend purposefully choosing an overnight flight in the hopes that baby will sleep.

Even if baby does sleep, you will still be off routine for the night and there could be all sorts of interruptions. Perhaps you will have to get baby up at 2am to transfer to your hotel.

This will make for a cranky baby tomorrow!

And if baby doesn’t sleep, you and other passengers will be more tired and less likely to be patient when your little on cries.

Day time flights are safest for baby sleep when traveling!

So when choosing tickets, stick to daytime and look at how different flight times fit into your childs routine. Do any of the flights fall during normal nap time?

If you want baby to sleep on the plane, then that is your target flight time.

Once you are on the plane and your little one’s naptime approaches, break out the Cozigo and your travel sound machine (scroll up for more details about these).

If you don’t have these on hand, you can try to use a blanket to block out some light. It can be a bit finicky depending on the plane, but it’s possible in some cases.

mom pushing stroller in an airport

The Airport

Getting a baby to sleep on a layover can be a great deal for mama.

After taking care of other needs, find a quiet gate, strap baby securly into the stroller, darken his environment, and walk around a bit.

By the way, if you want to have a breezy layover with kids, check out my post about that topic HERE!

With the Cozigo to block light and a travel sound machine to block sound, LC will sleep an hour or more in his stroller, even if I stop moving it.

This is an awesome time to rest and relax on your layover!

Again, if you don’t have a Cozigo, a light blanket might block enough light for your baby to sleep. It really depends on your baby’s preferences and needs!

The Hotel

Getting a baby to sleep in a hotel room can be tough, especially if you’ve got an older kid as well.

I’ve totally been the one to completely darken the room so my baby could sleep, and browse stuff on my phone under the blankets with headphones!

But I’m here to tell you, there’s a better way!

Many hotel bathrooms are big enough to fit a travel crib. It may weird you out at first to have baby sleep in the bathroom, but seriously, it’s great!

And any *ahem* bathroom business can be taken care of in the lobby if necessary.

Bathrooms can be darkened completely without much effort. And with a sound machine going, you won’t have to keep the main room dark or overly quiet.

Unless you have an older kid as well, in which case you may be stuck turning out the lights so they can sleep and using your phone for entertainment.

But what if the bathroom isn’t big enough? Most hotel rooms have black out curtains.

Some light often still peeks out around the edges and bottom, so try using extra pillows and blankets to block out those little cracks of light.

It can make a big difference in the overall darkness of the room!

So There You Have It!

The ultimate guide to managing baby sleep while traveling. I hope this was helpful and feel free to browse around my other posts!

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