5 Tips to Master Baby and Toddler Sleep on the Go

by Hannah Howard April 29, 2024

mother sitting next to crib to put baby to sleep

My husband and I love to travel, and my husband’s family lives oversees in England. This means my two-year-old and four-year-old have had way more experience in planes, trains, and generally traversing around the world than most kids their age. I count this as an enormous privilege and an extraordinary opportunity. 

It also brings along with it a lineup of challenges. On the top of the list is sleep. With disrupted rhythms and routines, long flights and car rides, new places, and jet lag, it feels like the deck is stacked way against anyone getting a quality night of rest. And it is. But these nuggets of wisdom will help set you up for success, because your baby or toddler needs solid sleep if they are going to be happy. And if they’re not happy, nobody is happy.

Spoiler alert: you won’t master little kid sleep while traveling…there’s just no way! So, a big dose of humility and a sense of humor are your friend here. Your best is good enough. I promise you will sleep again!

Build yourself Plenty of Wiggle Room

I usually want to do all the things, so this is advice to me and those like me. Staying in a new place is already a big adventure for little ones and takes a lot of energy. New sights, sounds, foods, and beds add up to a major change. Our sweet spot is usually one big activity a day, otherwise everyone gets very grumpy and overtired. (Quit while you’re ahead!)

Plan Ahead of Time

Whether you’re staying with friends or family, at a hotel, or a rented home, make sure the place is all set up with the sleep necessities for your baby or toddler before you arrive.  Whether that’s a crib, a Pack n Play, or a bassinet, a hotel or host should be able to accommodate your family’s sleep needs. Older kids may be comfy on a sleeper sofa, a futon, or an air mattress. But littler ones have more specific requirements, which brings us to:

Have the Right Gear

No matter where they are, your baby needs the right environment for their best sleep. The 3-in-1 Dream Retreat Healthy Sleep System gives baby a consistent place parents can move from room to room or even take on the go. The first Safety certified shade designed to reduce stimuli and create a consistent sleep environment on the go allows parents to control lighting and limit distractions in shared spaces. This oversized shade is also uniquely versatile, allowing use in both playard and bassinet mode. So baby can enjoy the benefits of a shaded area even when they're not sleeping.

Create a Cozy Vibe 

Anything you can do to make the most of sleep associations will help cue your baby or toddler that it’s time for sleep. We always travel with our white noise machine; it’s small enough to plug in anywhere, and it’s kind of like the auditory version of warm milk. Bring favorite stuffies and nighttime books to recreate the same bedtime routine that’s familiar from home. My kids even like a specific bottle of water for sleep, so I make sure to pack those.

The More Helpful Hands, the Better

We've traveled with my mom and in-laws, that way we can do things with different combos of adults and kids and give everyone a break from so much childcare, and your kids plenty of time to nap and rest. Also hiring local babysitters can be a great option—if your little one is cozy in bed, it’s a great time for some grownup time out on the town. 



Hannah Howard


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