I can tell you from experience that traveling with a baby is amazing, but it can create some havoc with your baby’s sleep schedule. This can be a challenge for a lot of parents. It can be stressful for parents, especially for those who have just gotten into a good sleeping routine or who have just gotten their baby sleeping through the night.
On the topic of healthy sleep habits for babies, the American Academy of Pediatrics says “the key is to have a predictable series of steps that help then wind down from the day“. To help replicate your baby’s sleep routine on a family trip, I recommend my favorite baby travel gear to help your baby sleep on vacation. Each of my recommended baby travel gear items will be helpful for creating a familiar sleep environment or for getting your baby to nap on the go.
While I always recommend traveling with as few baby travel items as possible, if you feel some specific baby travel gear will help your baby getting a better night sleep, then you should definitely add it to your baby travel packing list! In my experience, traveling with a well-rested baby is just so much easier and more pleasant for everyone, including baby!
It’s no surprise that many of my favorite baby travel gear for sleep, also appear on my lists of recommended baby travel essentials and toddler travel essentials. Before you decide to pack something for your family trip, be sure that it’s worth it. In my experience, anything that helps your baby sleep on vacation, to have a well rested little traveler is well worth it!
Also, be sure to read my tips to get your baby sleeping on vacation, where I share my first-hand experiences with getting our baby to sleep on holiday.
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11 Must Have Baby Sleep Products to Help Baby Sleep on Vacation
1. Baby Travel Crib or Inflatable Toddler Travel Bed
By having your own portable travel bed for toddlers or babies, you don’t have to worry about moving around when you travel. You’ll be able to maintain that familiar sleep environment wherever you are staying. In addition, you can practice getting your baby to sleep in your travel crib at home so you’ll have more success with your baby’s sleep when you travel.
For toddlers, a crib provided by a hotel or even a travel crib may no longer be a good toddler travel sleep option. Inflatable toddler travel beds or even a toddler travel tent (like the KidCo PeaPod Plus toddler travel tent pictured above) is a great alternative. These baby travel products typically pack small enough to easily fit in a suitcase.
Again, I recommend you practice using it at home (I always start out with getting good naps before using it at night) before trying it on your family trip.
Learn how to find the best baby-friendly hotel for your family vacation.
At home, I always used sleepsacks (or wearable blankets) with our babies, so I always packed one on our family vacations. A sleepsack was a familiar item for our baby at bedtime and, as a bonus, it also allowed us to not worry about packing blankets. Even if our baby was sleeping in a hotel crib, a sleepsack gave familiar feelings and smells to bedtime at home.
We even brought our sleepsack when flying with a baby to use in the airplane bassinet.
3. White Noise Machine
If you are like us and use white noise at home to help your baby sleep, then make sure you can play white noise while traveling as well. There are small portable white noise machines that you can purchase or, if you prefer to travel light, you can get an app for your phone.
I liked having the app on a separate device (like an old phone or iPad), so I didn’t have to leave my phone in our baby’s room overnight if we were staying in an Airbnb. I also really like the SoundBub white noise machine, which also works as a bluetooth speaker. We traveled with a SoundBub white noise machine for many years and it served us well.
4. Portable Baby Monitor
Similar to the white noise machine, I used a baby monitor at home so I added it to our list of baby gear for travel. When we stayed in an Airbnb with our baby, she’d have her own room, so having a portable baby monitor was the easiest solution to allow us to check in on her.
Having a small portable baby monitor for travel is easy to pack. Alternatively, you can use one of the best baby monitor apps (like Baby Monitor 3G) if you are traveling with multiple devices, which we have also done.
5. Inflatable Bath Tub
If a bath is a big part of your child’s bedtime routine, then you have a few options for giving your baby a bath when traveling. If your baby is small enough, you can replicate a bath in the hotel sink or give your baby a sponge bath. Alternatively, you can bring your baby in the shower with you, but this isn’t the safest option with a slippery baby!
I recommend packing an inflatable travel tub for your baby.
6. Baby or Toddler Carrier
To get your baby to nap on the go, nothing works better than a baby carrier. Having a good baby carrier for travel will make traveling with a baby so much easier. I always found it much easier to get our baby to nap on-the-go in a baby carrier than in a stroller. Baby carriers are also great for getting your baby to sleep on the airplane.
For toddlers, get a toddler carrier as it will be much more comfortable for both you and your toddler.
7. Reclining Travel Stroller
Having a good travel stroller will make traveling with a baby much easier. If your baby can nap in the stroller while you are out sightseeing, you won’t need to worry about returning to your hotel room for naps (nobody wants an overtired baby when traveling!).
The best infant travel strollers will have a nice deep recline so your baby can lie flat. Some of the best toddler travel strollers or the best strollers for flying are more about how compact they fold or how lightweight they are (which makes sense since your toddler might be choosing to walk more and more).
8. CoziGo Bassinet and Stroller Cover
In my experience, babies don’t sleep well in a stroller while traveling because they can see too much. Everything is new and very stimulating for their developing brains. Having the ability to block light and activity around your baby will make it much easier for them to have naps on-the-go. The CoziGo bassinet and stroller cover is the perfect baby travel product to help with naps. On the flight, it will fit right over the bassinet.
To get babies and toddlers to nap in a stroller, don’t forget to pack a stroller sunshade like the CoziGo. The CoziGo stroller cover will block 97% of the light. More importantly while traveling, it helps block out the stimulating environment around your baby.
Another great CoziGo alternative that I recommend is the SnoozeShade Plus stroller cover.
9. SlumberPod Privacy Pod
When traveling with a baby you can’t always count on getting a hotel room or Airbnb with blackout shades. The SlumberPod privacy pod is must have baby travel gear for creating your baby’s own sleep area.
It fits over top of a pack n’ play, travel cribs and even over some toddler travel beds. It will create a dark sleep environment to help replicate your baby or toddler’s room at home. The SlumberPod blackout cover is the perfect companion to a travel crib to help your baby or toddler sleep on vacation.
The two best places to buy a SlumberPod privacy nook are direct from the retailer or from Amazon.com. The price and free shipping policies between the two are typically aligned. If you live outside North America, Amazon is likely your best bet as it widely available on Amazon stores around the world.
If you live in the United States or Canada, SlumberPod is offering a $10 discount to Baby Can Travel readers. This means you can buy it cheaper direct from the manufacturer! Just enter “BABYCANTRAVEL$20″ at checkout.
10. Inflatable Airplane Travel Bed
To get toddlers to sleep on flights, I always pack an inflatable airplane travel bed. This gives our toddler more space to both play and sleep. Not having our toddler sleep on our laps on long haul flights makes the flight so much better for everyone.
Flying with toddlers can be a challenge so anything to get them sleeping better on a flight is well worth it!
If you are flying with a baby you can inquire with the airline about getting a bassinet for your baby. Alternatively, if your baby or toddler will sleep best in their car seat, then book a seat for your baby and plan to travel with your car seat on the airplane.
Don’t miss these baby and toddler travel toys for the airplane to keep your toddler and baby busy on the flight.
11. Favorite Stuffed Animal and Books
Similar to what I said above, getting your baby to sleep on vacation means doing anything you can do to replicate your bedtime routine and a familiar sleep environment. This might even require some creative baby travel hacks.
If your toddler has a favorite blanket, a favorite stuffed animal or you read books every night before bed, then you should add those to your list of baby travel accessories to pack. It’s important to continue to replicate their bedtime routine, even on vacation.
Don’t forget to pack overnight diapers if you aren’t sure you can get them at your destination! You want your baby to stay dry all night.
This post was written & edited by:
Celine Brewer is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's helped millions of new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade. In addition to writing on her baby travel blog, she has shared her expertise on traveling with a baby or toddler by contributing to articles about traveling with a baby with the Washington Post, USA Today, the Lonely Planet magazine and Pregnancy & Newborn magazine.
Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.