So many of us LOVE vacation! Whether you’re off to a tropical resort, to a cabin in the woods, or just to your parents’ house, vacation offers you the chance to escape your real-life and spend a few days or weeks relaxing.
Unless that is, you’re vacationing with a baby or toddler. If that’s the case, scratch the “relaxing” part; your vacation might feel like a whole lot of work! As Glennon Doyle of Momastery.com post once wrote,
“DUDE. Vacation is hard. Everyone came WITH me. And they all need the same amount of food and grooming and such as they do at home.”
And let’s not forget the sleeping, shall we? Nothing throws off a naptime routine quite like uprooting your little one from her familiar surroundings and whisking her away to a new place.
Think she’s going to nap well? Think again.
We know vacation can destroy your little one’s naptime schedule, leading to short naps (or no naps at all!). We’ve been there. We’ve felt the pain first-hand! So we’re offering you some simple ways to make naptime as painless as possible while your family is traveling. Put these 5 tips into practice the next time you’re traveling with your baby or toddler, and make naptime more restful for everyone.
1. Stick to the schedule as much as you can.
If you want your baby or toddler to nap well while you’re traveling, you’re probably going to have to stick to his normal schedule as much as you can. So if he normally naps mid-morning and mid-afternoon, do what you can to make sure he’s able to nap at those times during vacation, too. Don’t plan activities that’ll force him to miss his nap; instead, try to prioritize his sleep.
Of course, some circumstances might make this impossible, and that’s okay. If a nap can’t happen when it “should” every once in a while during your trip, simply roll with it, and then do your best to make sure the rest of his naps are restorative.
What’s more, if you have a highly-adaptable baby, sticking closely to the schedule might not be necessary. Your baby might sleep beautifully on a beach chair, or in her stroller. If that’s the case, congratulations! Enjoy. The rest of us are just a little jealous. 😉
2. Pack some good napping products.
We shared this post a few weeks ago on fantastic napping products. And guess what? Most of these are totally portable, so make room in your suitcase! The loveys, the noise machines, the swaddle blankets, and the stroller covers should all fit nicely in a bag. You can even find portable room-darkening blinds; the EZ Slumber Travel Blackout Curtain has suction cups that stick to any window, making it a great option for traveling.
3. Make the napping area feel like home.
There are limitations to this, obviously; you can’t exactly pack your baby’s or toddler’s entire room and haul it on vacation with you! But you can take small steps to make sure that the place your baby or toddler naps, while you’re traveling, feels homey and familiar. That might mean bringing along his crib sheets and bedding or packing the lullaby CD that you always play for her at naptime. And of course, you’ll definitely want to pack all of your little one’s comfort items — loveys, stuffed animals, favorite books, etc. Surround him with things that feel like home, and it’ll help him settle down and nap when he needs to.
4. Lay some groundwork before you leave.
This is especially important if you have a slow-to-adapt baby or a toddler who’s really sensitive to disruptions in the routine. If that’s the case, starting a few days to two weeks before you leave, begin napping your baby or toddler in whatever she’ll be sleeping in while you travel (if possible) for at least one nap per day. Set up your pack-n-play or portable crib in her room, and have her take her naps there. This will help her adjust to a new sleeping arrangement before you hit the road, which will be easier for everyone.
5. Give yourself a pep-talk.
Even if you take every single precaution you can, there’s still a good chance that your baby or toddler just isn’t going to nap as well on the road as he does at home. Such is the reality of vacationing with a tiny child! So be prepared to be flexible, and to make the best of whatever comes.
And then, when you get home, schedule yourself a pedicure, or a massage, or an afternoon out — anything that’ll help you feel relaxed. After all that vacationing, you’ll probably need a break. 😉
“After traveling, the biggest thing we see in the Helpdesk is that even if schedules were perfect on vacation, traveling is tiring for everyone, including your baby. Plan for an earlier bedtime for several nights to help your baby ‘catch up’ on sleep and rest up!”
Help With All Your Baby Sleep Problems (Including The Vacation-Induced Ones!)
Baby sleep problems don’t discriminate – your baby is just as likely to struggle with sleep on the road as she is at home. But the wonky schedules and activity-packed days of vacation can definitely throw a wrench into your baby’s usual nap schedule! Fortunately, we can help. Our consultants at The Baby Sleep Site® specialize in creating Personalized Sleep Plans™ that are customized to your own parenting philosophy, and that will NEVER make you feel guilty or pressured. Even better, once you have your Personalized Sleep Plan™, your consultant will walk you through each step of implementing it at home.
Browse our list of consultation package options here.
Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!
Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers.
How do you help your baby or toddler sleep well when you’re traveling? Share your tips!
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For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.
If you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.
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Need help knowing where to start? Visit our Help Me Choose page for helping choosing the Baby Sleep Site® resources that are right for you.
25 thoughts on “5 Ways to Help Your Baby or Toddler Nap While Traveling”
Someone needs to invent a portable room divider. We We put the pnp in a closet sometimes, but not always available. In order to mimic them having their own room, I need something to block our 1yo from seeing us walking in/out of room.
@ Cindy – I hear you! One of our consultants recommends trying a portable coat rack – they expand and collapse, making them easy to take along when you travel. And you can usually expand the rack, drape a blanket over it, and then you have a (sort-of) room-divider. Usually works in a pinch, especially when you have to share a room with your child when you travel. Something to consider, anyway 😉
Thanks for commenting, Cindy! 🙂
@ Becky – rant away, friend! Moms do it all the time on this site, and we welcome it 🙂 Sorry to hear that sleep has been rough on vacation, but I’m not surprised; our kids always sleep SO much worse when we’re on vacation than they do at home, and they’re past the baby and toddler stages! We always end up with late bedtimes, early rising, and pathetic naps on trips. So I feel all your pain 😉
Thanks for “ranting”, Becky; hope your vacation is fun, even with the nap time drama!
I feel like I could have written Laurie’s post except we finally napped trained about two months ago. Anyways he is screaming bloody murder for naps and bedtime on out beach trip. We used the trash bag tip and that has helped a bit. My husband is napping with him right now so I can get a break. He is also going through a nap transition but is so tired in the morning(fights his afternoon nap at home too.) I brought the ergo and have been taking car rides. At home I would let him blow off some steam in his crib at let him put himself to sleep but I don’t want my in laws to think I’m a monster so I’ve been laying in the bed next to his pack n play, this helps him settle in better but his cousins keep waking them up 🙁 anyway I don’t really have a question or tip just wanted to rant a bit. Thanks for the post!
@ Laura – awesome – so glad to know these are available to U.S. shoppers now! Do let us know what you think of them! 🙂
@ Laura – Thanks so much for sharing your tips! Very, very helpful!!
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