11 Holiday Baby Sleep Tips


With the holidays upon us, many parents wonder and worry about their baby or toddler’s sleep, particularly during visits from family or holiday traveling. Here are several things to keep in mind for this holiday season.

Jump to Visitors | Jump to Travel

Baby Sleep and Traveling

First and foremost, the holidays and traveling, in general, is a time to have fun and enjoy yourselves! So, try not to worry too much about baby sleep and schedules when you are supposed to be relaxing and having fun. I do have some tips to make things easier, though, especially if you have a baby or toddler who gets very cranky without adequate sleep.

• Before you travel, make sure you have a well-established nap and bedtime routine. This will make it easier, when you are traveling, to have your baby or toddler know what to expect, even though they are not at home.

• You might consider adding a specific baby sleep CD to your routines now before you travel, so that you can play it at your location, and your baby will associate it with sleep, even when you aren’t at home.

• Consider introducing a baby lovey before your trip for added comfort in a “foreign” place. A simple baby blanket or sleep sack with lovey attached are nice choices. You may be interested in learning when your baby can use a pillow. If you have a newborn, you can try to swaddle your baby for added comfort and check out my other newborn sleep tips.

• Depending on the age of your baby, you may want to sleep on a receiving blanket so it smells like you and give it to your baby when she sleeps. Your scent will help her feel you near, even if you are in another room.

• If you are traveling time zones, try to get onto the normal clock schedule as soon as you can, within reason. If you are traveling too late at night, allow one day of sleeping in and off-schedule naps, but then try to get back on schedule the following day. If you travel early enough, stick to the regular schedule right away for an easier transition across time zones and battling jet lag.

• Stick to schedule as much as you can without sacrificing fun on your trip, but once you get back home, try to get back to your normal rules as quickly as you can for a smoother and faster transition back home. Otherwise, parents often complain that several weeks later they are still feeling the effects of their traveling. If your baby has trouble getting back on schedule after a week or two, you might consider shifting schedules.

• Make sure you have a good place for your baby or toddler to sleep. Here is a great travel bassinet/crib. If you have a toddler, you may want to get a portable child bed or if you have a bed at your travel location, you may want to purchase a portable bed rail.

• If you are sleep training, you will likely need to abandon your efforts until you get back home. Consistency is key and with schedules being out of whack and being in a different place, you won’t likely have a lot of success. If you’ve already sleep trained (or will by the time you travel), things might not be perfect during your travels, but once you get back it usually only takes a few days to get back to normal (provided you go back to your “sleep rules”).

Baby Sleep and Holiday Visitors

The most difficult part of holiday visitors is that everyone wants the babies or young children to stay up when they should be sleeping, so they can visit with them. This is especially true of those traveling far distances. I do not have profound advice for tackling this, except that it is YOU that will need to deal with the aftermath.

For those who have children who do not get cranky, this will probably be a non-issue and you can be as flexible as you want to be. But, for those of us who have kids that get very cranky, we might not be able to be that flexible. For me, when my eldest son (the one this website was inspired by) got off schedule even once or just a little bit, it took us a week or more to get back on track. I am not exaggerating! So, we had to really decide which events were worthy of getting him off track. Here are a few simple tips:

• Explain to your visitors that you understand how limited their time is with your child, but that his sleep needs have to be a priority because of his behavior, happiness, and well-being.

• Try to involve visitors like grandma and grandpa in the nap or bedtime routines. If your kids are like my son, this might not be as easy as it sounds. My older son just loooves mommy to read his books or tell him stories and often does not appreciate the concept that I’m always here, but grandma isn’t. My other son, who is just 9 months old, has stranger anxiety. But, I do the best I can, even if I have to be in the room while grandma reads to one of them.

• Try to plan ahead by having visitors come over after at least the first nap because typically that’s the most important. That way, if the rest of the day doesn’t go exactly as planned, she might not be as overtired, at least.

Whether you are traveling for the holidays or staying home and expecting visitors, I hope this article can help you get through them with as little tears as possible (yours and your kids).

Do you have any tips to share? Any questions I can answer?

The Baby Sleep Site® is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other product affiliate programs. If you click on a product link and make a purchase, The Baby Sleep Site® may (but not always) receive a small commission from the company selling the product, but will not affect your purchase price. We only recommend products that we believe are quality products and are good for our readers.

Holistic Sleep Solutions from The Baby Sleep Site®

e-Book bundles

Do-It-Yourself: Just getting started with your research but you want to stop Googling? Choose from any of our e-Book bundles for practical advice you can put to use TODAY!  

Become a VIP Member

Do-It-Mostly-Yourself: Would you like to continue learning with the option of chatting with a sleep consultant? We have a perfect solution! Become a VIP Member for access to all of our premium content, “ask the author,” audio courses, live weekly chat, and more!

Get a Personalized Sleep Plan

Work With a Sleep Expert: Tap into over a decade of experience with thousands of families before you! Get a Personalized Sleep Plan® just for your unique situation, get guidance and answers to all your “what if?” questions while you work through your plan, and benefit from expert support along the way. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard “I wish I had done this sooner!” Not sure? Read these stories from well-rested parents.

Don’t lose another wink of sleep — GET STARTED TODAY with our gentler, kinder approach to healthy sleep!

Since starting in 2008, we’ve gained over 10,000 comments on our blog!

At this time, we’ve turned the comment sections off. We would, of course, love to hear from you! For help with your specific sleep problems, please learn more about our DIY resources or our sleep consultation services. Or, consider emailing us for a fast and helpful response!

12 thoughts on “11 Holiday Baby Sleep Tips”

  1. my son is 5 month.but he doesnt sleep wel at night.wake up like 4 to 5 times at night.he wake up by 5am and wouldnt sleep till after bating by 8am.pls wat can i do to make him sleep through out the night.

  2. Sylvia – I also live in Taiwan and took my daughter to Canada three years ago when she was 4.5 months old. She already had a reasonable routine and we were going to BC so it was 15 hours different. Anyway, my husband and I decided to stay on Taiwan time the whole visit since it was only a week. I moved my watch to Canadian time but he kept his on Taiwan time so we could tell what our daughter needed next. We mostly stayed on Taiwan time as well. It sounded strange to our relatives, but worked out great! Most people had to go to work or run errands during the day anyway, so we could sleep in. We were able to visit in the afternoons and evenings and she was ready to be awake and alert most of that time. We could even have visits late into the night (Canada time) and she could be part of it. It was a little boring for us in the dead of the night when we had a feeding and we were still awake too but for one week it was worth it to keep her on an even keel.

  3. Just curious what you can recommend about extreme jetlag situations? We are currently living in Taiwan and will be traveling back to Canada for a weeks holiday visit. I’m so nervous about dealing with a 12 hour time difference and a 6 month old baby! We’re thinking of trying to force him onto the new time as quickly as possible… but I just don’t know how successful that will be. Any thoughts?

  4. Travelling with babies and toddlers can sometimes be a bit tricky to say the least, familiarity is quite an important thing, we found that being involved with time shares whilst our childern were small made the whole family holiday thing much easier

  5. My son is getting to the point where he’s almost outgrown the pack n play but is still not quite ready for a toddler bed yet. when we travel he always seems so uncomfortable in the pack n play, but when we travel to grandma’s house she bought him an additional porta-crib mattress that is 3″ thick and much easier for him to get settled than on the thin little mattress pad that comes with the pack n play. It has made the difference for us in having him sleep better when away from his crib! It’s not very portable (doesn’t fold up) but we just keep that at her house and use it when we are there.

  6. Traveling to a “foreign” place is an adjustment, even for adults. The best thing you can do is follow all of the tips here, but some babies will be more sensitive to changes in routine, including where they are. Typically it should only be a few days adjustment when you get back home. He probably doesn’t like the mattress compared to the one he has at home, so maybe a better portable crib would work better, but all in all, he will most likely travel better when he gets older and the more you do it. Good luck!

  7. Hi there. Our 7 month old boy. Sleeps great at home. When we go away for the weekend, however, the sleep pattern goes out the window. His naps are still ok. And he still goes to sleep very easily and at the same routine time. However, he wakes up about 2 hours later and will not go back to sleep unless he is picked up and held. After which, we wakes up about every half hour — to be held again. The only way we have found to have him sleep for longer periods on the road is for him to sleep in our bed. This isn’t really sustainable for us.

    Any thoughts? We use a pack n play with a thicker porta crib mattress.

Comments are closed.

FREE Guide: Five Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night

Join over 450,000 parents around the world & sign up today to receive the guide and our Baby Sleep Newsletter absolutely FREE!