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My toddler has been to more states than most grown adults. When he was almost 3 months old, I took him on his first flight. And then, right after we got home, we decided to take a road trip to visit more family. The kid has probably spent a quarter of his life at this point in a plane or on the road. The hardest part about all the traveling we do with the kids? Their sleep habits! So we’ve learned a few tips and tricks on how to get our toddler to fall asleep and stay asleep while we travel.
Tips to help your toddler sleep while traveling with the Regalo MyCot.
Keep your schedule as much as possible.
I know vacation is usually about letting loose, having fun, and being more lax about the rules, but that’s the opposite of how you should view vacation sleep. It never fails, the more laissez-faire we are about H’s sleep while we’re traveling, the more of a nightmare it is. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be a stickler that by 7:01pm your toddler’s eyes need to be shut, regardless.
At home, H’s bedtime is between 6:45 and 7, but on the road, we usually stretch it out a little to sometime between 7 and 8. Especially if we’re in the middle of dinner, or there are a lot of family or friends over, I hate to cut him off from playing and socializing. But I also know that an overtired toddler fights sleep harder than ever. Annnnd he wakes up at the same time each morning, regardless of how late he goes to sleep. So, giving a little wiggle room is a great solution to letting him have more playtime, but also preserving my sanity. Plus, if you’re gone for an extended period of time, this will be crucial for getting back into your routine at home.
When we’re gone for a week or more at a time, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for this consistency! H knows that although his scenery may change, his days are still structured (albeit loosely) in the same way, whether we’re at home or on the road.
Set up the area where your toddler will be sleeping.
This school of thought is the same as keeping bedtime consistent. Setting H up in his own little space is another way we try to provide some semblance of normalcy while traveling. And I’ve noticed that since bringing a few things along with us each time, his sleep while traveling is so much better! It may sound silly, but we even get him involved in setting up his sleeping area. While we unpack, we also talk about this being his bedHe likes helping to put everything where he likes, and I like that he’s helping to create his own little safe space where he can wind down at the end of the day.
What to bring with you to create a safe sleeping environment for toddlers while traveling:
First and foremost, H is obsessed with his Regalo My Cot. We’ve had it for about three months now, and he’s used it almost as much at home as he has while traveling. The Regalo My Cot is the best portable toddler bed for travel that we’ve tried. H has used it here at home, in the backyard, at hotels, when visiting family, while camping, and in an RV, and it works EVERYWHERE. It’s super lightweight and comes with it’s own carrying case, which makes traveling with a toddler even easier. H actually likes to take it out of the bag and set it up himself, so if a 3.5 year old can do it – anyone can.
H is currently potty trained, but nighttime is kind of up in the air. I don’t want him to regress while we’re out on the road so much, so we keep him in underwear. So, yes, accidents do happen. BUT the Regalo My Cot portable travel bed‘s nylon is not only durable, but also waterproof! So it’s super easy to wash down. Regardless of whether it’s a potty related accident, camping grime, or the classic spilled milk, the My Cot is good to go. Literally. Because you can even fit it’s small folded up self into a regular size suitcase!
To make his sleep area comfortable and feel more like home, H brings one of his favorite blankets with him. It’s usually a special quilt Grammy made him, or an Aden + Anais Dream Blanket. If H was one to have a lovey, this would be a great time to bring and place his lovey or security blanket too. Because this is the same blanket he sleeps with in his bed at home, it’s another sense of comfort for him.
I always grab two or three of his favorite books to bring with us, as well as his special sleepy time essential oil roller balls. As I’ve mentioned before, I want to keep bedtime as regular as possible, and these are all so small that they’re easy to pack and include in our travels.
Finally, we always bring a sound machine! ALWAYS. And for those times we forget, which does happen, then I have an app on my phone that plays white noise as well. White noise is our BFF when traveling. No matter whether you’re at a hotel (hello paper thin walls), a friend or family member’s house, a campsite, etc, white noise can be crucial in successfully getting your toddler to fall asleep and stay asleep while on vacation. Have you ever tried to keep a house full of people quiet while your toddler sleeps a few doors down? Yeah. Just bring the white noise machine and relax, knowing it will help drown out the surrounding noises.
Just in case you’re a freak about dark rooms like myself, I also highly suggest figuring out a way to darken the room while traveling. I’ve tried it all – tin foil taped up on the windows looks a little silly from the outside, but is AWESOME for keeping out the light. Another favorite way to keep the light out is to pick up some window film – it’s super cheap on Amazon, and you can apply and then remove before your leave!
You know when you buy a pair of new shoes and try to wear them all day, right out of the box? Think about how uncomfortable that is. To me, it’s the same concept with kids sleeping in new places. Shoot, even I typically sleep pretty terribly when I’m not in my own bed. How can I expect my toddler to do what I can’t?
SO, the easiest way to get your toddler to sleep while traveling on vacation? Practice! It doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated, and you don’t have to do anything special. I use our Regalo My Cot Portable Toddler Bed every chance we get, and H’s sleep while we’re traveling is awesome (*knocks on wood*). The first day the Regalo My Cot arrived at our house, we unpacked it and set it up in our living room. We talked to H about how this was his special travel bed, and about how many adventures it would go on with him. He asked us to set it up in his room that night, and we agreed it would be a great idea for him to get used to.
I’m not going to lie, that first night was a little rough. Bedtime took a little longer than usual because he was so excited about his new bed! He had to set up all his animals and sheets, and asked for a million different pillows and stories. He told us all about the trips he was going to take the bed on, and who he was going to travel with. It was adorable, but exhausting. BUT I’m glad we got that out of the way while at home in our own controlled environment. Because that next week when we were gone for 10 days, he was already used to sleeping on his portable travel bed, and the newness and novelty had kind of worn off (in a good way).
Traveling with kids isn’t always easy.
Let’s get real for a minute here, I need a vacation by the time we get home from vacations. It can be exhausting, and feel overwhelming. Just remember – breathe. Getting to the destination has always been the most stressful for me, but knowing we’re covered on sleep is always such a saving grace. Toddler are still little kids, and new environments can be just as overwhelming for them.
These few tips, along with some deep breaths and patience, have completely changed our game when it comes to traveling with kids. It will get better the more you and your toddler experience traveling, and a healthy vacation sleep environment can make all the difference. So enjoy your time together, adventuring! Because we only get 18 summers with these little ones, and it goes by way too fast.
To learn more about Regalo Baby and all their other awesome products, check out the Regalo Baby website. And make sure to follow along with Regalo Baby on their Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest to keep up to date on all their goodies!