Dreading your upcoming vacation cause you’ll be sleeping training while traveling?
A lot of parents do tend to panic and worry a lot as any sleep training progress their baby had can potentially get disrupted during travel vacations.
And that’s tough!
But there’s a way to minimize that and to even keep up with your baby’s sleep training, so everyone can have a more enjoyable vacation.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- ways to prepare your sleep-trained baby for the upcoming vacation
- how to continue sleep training while traveling on vacation
- what to do when you get home from travel
- how to help your baby fall asleep on the plane
- And lots of other baby sleep traveling tips and tricks!
But first, let’s deal with everyone’s nagging question.
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List of Contents
Does Travel Cause Sleep Regressions?
Yes, travel can cause sleep regressions.
Changes in environment, routine, and time zones are the main causes that can lead to sleep regressions.
But fear not; we’ve got your back starting with the travel prep tips below:
Preparing for Traveling With Your Baby
- Book a flight close to the baby’s nap schedule
Timing is everything. Try to schedule your flights around your baby’s usual nap times.
- Choose a seat at the back of the plane
There’s a lot less stress when everyone is facing away from you when you’re settling your baby.
- Plan accommodations carefully
Make sure your lodging provides a quiet and comfortable sleeping environment for your little one.
If possible, book an Airbnb with 2 rooms or book 2 hotel adjoining rooms.
Alternate staying with the baby with your partner if needed.
- Practice sleeping in their travel crib/pack n play
Familiarize your baby with their sleeping space before the trip.
So a few weeks before the trip, let them practice napping or sleeping during bedtime in their travel crib or pack-n-play.
- Get a SlumberPod or an alternative
These privacy pods create a cozy, dark sleeping space for your baby, making it easier for them to settle down in unfamiliar surroundings.
There are also awesome slumberpod alternatives (like the ones below) that are way cheaper and way easier to pack, so consider checking those out too.
- Practice sleeping in different spots
A few weeks before your trip, get your baby used to sleeping in various places, such as a stroller, baby carrier, or even a noisy restaurant.
- Pack familiar comfort items
Bring along items that will help your baby to sleep and recreate a familiar sleep environment, such as:
- swaddles or sleep sacks
- crib sheets
- white noise machines
- lovey/ stuffed animals
- bedtime books
Sleep Training While Traveling Tips & Tricks
Now, onto the sleep training while traveling tips and tricks:
Schedule activities in the morning
If possible, plan your daily activities during your trip to align with your baby’s natural sleep patterns.
Babies tend to be more refreshed and less fussy in the morning, so consider scheduling outings and adventures during the morning.
This allows your little ones to expend their energy during the day, making it easier for them to settle down for naps or bedtime.
One common pitfall while traveling with a baby is trying to cram too many activities into a single day.
Remember that babies need downtime to rest and recharge.
Avoid over-scheduling and allow for breaks in your itinerary.
This way, you can better accommodate your baby’s nap schedule and minimize the risk of overtiredness, which can lead to crankiness and disrupted sleep.
Maintain your baby’s sleep routine
Consistency is key when it comes to sleep training, even while traveling.
Try to stick to your baby’s usual sleep routine as closely as possible.
This means following their regular bedtime rituals, such as reading a bedtime story, using a white noise machine, or swaddling if that’s part of their routine.
Familiarity can help your baby feel more secure in a new environment.
Recreate their sleep environment
To help your baby feel at ease while sleeping away from home, recreate their sleep environment as much as possible.
Bring along their favorite swaddle or sleep sack, their crib sheets, and a portable white noise machine.
Related Article: How Many Swaddles Do I Need?
If they’re a bit older, don’t forget to bring their lovey or favorite stuffed toy.
These familiar items can provide comfort and signal that it’s time to sleep, even in a different place.
Try to get one good nap a day
While traveling, aim to ensure your baby gets at least one good nap each day.
This nap can serve as a restorative break, allowing your baby to catch up on sleep and stay in a relatively good mood.
Plan this nap around your baby’s usual nap time, and create a comfortable, dark, and quiet space for them to nap, whether it’s in a stroller, a travel crib, a baby carrier, or even your arms.
Try to stay consistent with bedtime
Consistency at bedtime is important for sleep training while traveling.
Even if your baby’s surroundings are different, try to maintain their regular bedtime as closely as possible.
This consistency helps reinforce their internal clock and makes it easier for them to adapt to the new environment.
While it’s essential to stick to routines, it’s equally important to be flexible, so you won’t get too frustrated.
Travel can be unpredictable, and there may be instances when you need to adjust your plans on the fly.
If your baby’s nap schedule gets disrupted, don’t stress too much.
Do your best to get back on track when circumstances allow, but remember that some flexibility is part of the adventure.
It’s crucial to have realistic expectations when traveling during sleep training.
Understand that your baby’s sleep routine may not be perfect while on the road, and that’s okay.
There might be nights when your baby wakes up more frequently or has shorter naps.
Stay patient and adapt to the situation as needed, knowing that you can get back on track when you return home.
How To Deal With Time Zone Changes While Sleep Training
When dealing with time zone changes while sleep training while traveling, here are some strategies to help:
- Get your baby active and expose them to daylight during the day to help adjust their internal clock.
- If you’re traveling from the West Coast to the East Coast, consider moving your baby’s bedtime by an hour later each night until they’re on the new schedule.
- If you’re traveling from the East Coast to the West Coast, you can either add a short nap in the late afternoon or move their bedtime 30 minutes earlier each night, until they get in the flow.
- For a 2-hour time change, consider pushing bedtime by an hour to help your baby adapt more smoothly.
Getting Home From Traveling With a Baby
- Return to normal routine
Once you’re back home, the first step is to gradually transition your baby back to their regular sleep routine.
This means reintroducing the familiar schedule and sleep environment they had before your trip.
Ensure that your baby’s sleeping space at home is as comfortable and consistent as possible.
Use their regular crib or sleep area, along with their familiar bedding, swaddle, or sleep sack.
Related Article: What Should Baby Wear Under Swaddle or Sleep Sack?
If their routine before the trip included activities like reading a bedtime story, using white noise or giving your baby their favorite lovey or stuffed animal, then do that whole routine again.
This can comfort your little one and signal to them that it’s time to sleep.
- Adjust bedtime in 15-minute increments daily
To ease your baby back into their regular bedtime, make small adjustments in 15-minute increments each night.
If you cross multiple time zones, this step is especially important.
For example, if you travel west to east and your baby’s bedtime needs to be earlier, start by putting them to bed 15 minutes earlier than the previous night.
Continue this adjustment until they’re back on their usual bedtime.
- Stay consistent
Consistency is key to helping your baby reestablish their sleep routine.
Continue with the familiar bedtime rituals and routines you had in place before your trip.
Consistency will reassure your baby and help them feel secure.
- Gradually reintroduce nap times
Just as you did with bedtime, reintroduce your baby to their regular nap times in 15-minute increments.
If your baby’s naps were disrupted during your trip, these gradual adjustments can help them ease back into their pre-travel nap schedule.
- Be patient
Adjusting back to the normal routine may take some time.
Your baby’s body clock needs time to reset, especially if you crossed time zones during your trip.
Be patient with any sleep disturbances, nighttime wakings, or fussy periods.
It’s entirely normal for your baby to experience a little disruption before settling back into their usual sleep pattern.
- Monitor your baby’s sleep patterns
Pay close attention to your baby’s sleep patterns and any signs of exhaustion or overtiredness.
If you notice that your baby is exceptionally tired during the day or struggling with nighttime sleep, consider making further adjustments to their sleep schedule as needed.
Do’s & Don’ts of Traveling While Sleep Training
Here are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to traveling during sleep training:
- Don’t travel within a month of sleep training: Give your baby time to establish their sleep routine before hitting the road.
- Do wait to sleep train a month after traveling: After a trip, wait a bit before beginning or resuming sleep training to avoid confusion.
- Don’t fall back on old, bad sleeping habits: Stay committed to the sleep training methods you’ve chosen (except for CIO) even while traveling.
- Do take two rooms, if budget permits: Having separate rooms can allow you and your partner to alternate taking care of your baby’s nighttime needs.
- Don’t do CIO (Cry It Out): Be considerate of your traveling neighbors and opt for gentler sleep training methods while on the road.
- Don’t stress too much: Remember that vacations can be unpredictable, and some deviations from the routine are normal.
- Do try to enjoy your vacation: While sleep is crucial, don’t forget to savor the precious moments of your trip with your baby.
What To Do If Baby Won’t Sleep on Vacation?
If your baby is struggling to sleep on vacation, keep in mind that they might be going through changes that are completely normal like adjusting to a new time zone, or a different environment.
Or they might be dealing with something more complicated or severe, such as teething, a sickness, or even a developmental sleep regression.
Be patient, follow the tips mentioned, and if nothing else seems to work, just set expectations and think that this is short-lived – it won’t last.
Just do your best to make your baby sleep and just get back on track with their sleep training when you get home.
How Do I Help My Baby Sleep on a Plane?
To help your baby sleep on a plane, consider:
- Breastfeeding or bottle-feeding during takeoff and landing to ease ear pressure
- Bringing a pacifier to soothe your baby
- Carrying them in a baby carrier to keep them cozy and close
- Being mentally prepared for the challenges of flying with a baby
- Ignoring the stares and judgmental glances from other passengers
You’ve got this!
Best Travel Cribs
If you’re looking at the best travel cribs you can use on vacation, check out these 2 that are popular amongst lots of parents and baby experts:
Check out some more of the best travel cribs here.
FAQ: Sleep Training While Traveling For the Holidays
How do you travel with a sleep-trained baby?
You can travel with a sleep trained baby by sticking to their normal routine, recreating their sleeping environment back home and just following the tips and strategies outlined in this guide.
What is the 3-minute rule for sleep training?
The 3-minute rule for sleep training involves waiting for three minutes before responding to your baby’s cries during sleep training.
Gradually increase the waiting time to help your baby learn self-soothing.
What is the 10-minute rule for sleep training?
The 10-minute rule for sleep training is similar to the 3-minute rule. It involves waiting for ten minutes before comforting your baby during sleep training.
Can travel trigger sleep regression?
Yes, travel can trigger sleep regression and disrupt your baby’s sleep routine.
Where should my baby sleep while on vacation?
While on vacation, your baby can sleep in a travel crib or pack ‘n play, or in a bed with bed rails to ensure safety.
Will traveling change my baby’s sleep schedule?
Yes, traveling can change your baby’s sleep schedule, temporarily. But with careful planning and adjustments, they can get back on track.
Should I bring my child into bed with me if she’s not sleeping?
Yes, you can bring your child into bed with you if you feel that’s the last resort to make them sleep but remember the risk, especially if they’re younger.
Try to follow safe sleep baby guidelines as much as possible but if you know you can manage it, then it’s perfectly fine to bring your child in bed with you.
When is the best time of day to travel?
The best time of day to travel is in the morning.
Morning flights may be preferable since babies are typically more rested and in a better mood earlier in the day.
Sleep Training While Traveling: Takeaway
By following these tips and tricks, you can make sleep training while traveling a more manageable and enjoyable experience for both you and your baby. Remember that every baby is unique, so be prepared to adjust these strategies based on your child’s specific needs and preferences.