Traveling with 2 kids and 2 SlumberPods
Traveling can be stressful. Now try traveling with kids! Traveling with toddlers and babies can be so overwhelming for families that many avoid it altogether. There is so much to consider; transportation, food, safety, sleep, and more! Whether you have a good sleeper or not, you want to make sleep while traveling as similar to home as possible!
Here are tips for ensuring the best sleep possible when traveling with kids AND how I do it with two kids three and under.
It is important to do as much planning as possible when you are traveling with kids.
- Prep your kids! Talk a lot about what is about to happen, what to expect, and even show videos and photos if possible. The more they know about the new environment and what to expect, the better! Explain any major differences to their normal schedule/routine.
- Prep yourself! Think in advance about what you need to pack and what is key to your routines. This might vary based on whether you are driving or flying and how much space you have. Create a checklist and think of everything, from toothbrushes to snacks, to their favorite blanket or stuffed animal. And always pack extras!
- Prep the schedule! Think about your current sleep schedule and how that might work within your travel day. If possible, tweak the day to allow for naps to be as normal as possible or allow for a bonus nap if needed.
Consistency is Key
It’s impossible to make everything the same, but when possible, be CONSISTENT. Think about your routines and how you can do something similar so it’s comforting to your little one in their new environment. Whatever your bedtime routine is, try to do the same no matter where you are.
For my family - our bedtime routine is below. It’s simple and easy for anyone to do and for us to do anywhere.
- Brush teeth
- Read two books
- Put on Pajamas, fresh diaper, sleep sack
- Sing two songs
- Lay down awake.. ‘good night.’
*Note: feedings and baths are never a part of my sleep routines, so they should happen outside of this sequence.
For our toddler, he is allowed to sleep with a pillow, blanket, and stuffed animals. When we travel, we don’t bring all the stuffed animals but discuss with him what 1-2 animals he might want to come with.
These familiar items or routines limit the stress of sleeping in a new environment.
Optimize the Sleep Environment
The recommendation around an ideal sleep environment is the same whether you are at home or sleeping somewhere else.
Sleep environment is, first and foremost, about safety. Always check the latest guidelines when deciding how to set up a baby's sleep environment. Below are some additional recommendations to help ensure the environment is most conducive to sleep.
- Darkness: Your baby’s room should be as dark as possible for all sleep (day and night).
- Location: Naps and night sleep should happen in the same location, ideally in the nursery.
- Lights: Avoid all lights, if possible, at night. However, I recommend using a red-light bulb when you're getting ready to put the baby down in the nursery. I use this while getting ready for sleep and when I go in to wake or grab the baby after they sleep.
- Sound Machine: A sound machine is extremely useful to cue sleep and block any outside noise that could wake the baby. The sound machine should be consistent and not turn off on its own. A portable sound machine is great for travel and/or naps on the go in the car or stroller.
- Toys/Mobiles: Avoid these as they could stimulate the baby if hung over the crib. If you have one that you want to use, it can be placed above the changing table instead.
What two things should you prioritize to make the sleep environment ideal for travel?
Darkness and sound!
- Darkness: You can use blackout curtains, put the pack-n-play in a room without windows (e.g., bathroom or walk-in closet), or use a SlumberPod! The SlumberPod is great for 4-month-olds to 5-year-olds and can fit over a mini crib, pack-n-play, or inflatable toddler mattress.
- White Noise Machine: I have a travel sound machine with me everywhere we go. It’s great to calm a fussy baby but especially helpful for setting up the ideal sleep environment. Consider traveling with extra sound machines to help block out any noise while on your trip. Always place the sound machine between the baby and any noise source. If room sharing, you can use one by the door to their room and one between children, if necessary.
Why you should consider 1 SlumberPod per kid.
I have two kids under the age of 3, so I own 2 SlumberPods and use them frequently.
- I use them when we go to a friend's house for the day, and both kids need a nap.
- I use them during the holidays with my family at their houses.
- And I use them a couple of times when we have gone on a vacation as a family and shared 1 room (all 4 of us)!
Let me elaborate on this one… the best use case of the SlumberPod is darkness, yes, but it’s also the ability to share a room with your little ones easily! We went to a local water park this past winter and spent two nights. The room we got had one bedroom but also had a little family room and kitchen area. We set up both boys in their SlumberPods and put them to bed at their normal time. My youngest is a little chatty/fussier at bedtime, so we put him down first. We waited until he was asleep and then put my 2.5-year-old (at the time) down second. My husband and I enjoyed a few drinks, dinner, and watched TV, and then later went into the same room and crawled into bed. We all slept great. With the SlumberPod, we could turn the lights on and not disturb the kids' sleep at night or when we woke up in the morning.
For all these reasons and more, I highly recommend having a SlumberPod per kid!
Product Links for items mentioned throughout the blog:
Inflatable Mattress (we use this instead of a pack-n-play for my oldest)
About the Author
Jessica Dooley, Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Best Little Sleeper
As a mom of two boys (3 years and 17 months), Jessica knows firsthand how important sleep is for kids and the entire family. After learning how to support her boys in sleep in very different ways, Jessica developed a passion for pediatric sleep and started to help many friends and family. Due to this passion, she officially got certified through the Institute of Pediatric Sleep and Parenting in 2022 and launched Best Little Sleeper. Jessica supports families 1:1 with virtual consultations and customizes each plan to the unique situation and the family. Her goal is to help families get the best sleep possible!