How to Tackle Baby and Toddler Nap Time Like a Boss


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The holidays are here and if you are like me you are managing to do the cooking, cleaning, gift purchasing, present wrapping and even barely managing three kids while traveling back East for the holidays.

Sounds overwhelming, right? Traveling adds a whole new layer of complexity to the holidays. This is especially true when you have children that still nap several times during the day and will need to adjust to a new sleeping environment for the week. Luckily I have been through this before, but with twins, so I tell myself that one baby will be way easier. If I can handle holiday travel with twins, then I can handle anything! (At least this is what I am telling myself.)

Here are six pointers that I recommend for the holidays to ensure sleep success.

Protect Your Nap Schedule 

Do your best not to cave in by allowing your baby or toddler skip nap times between holiday parties and visits with family members. There are some unforeseen circumstances that arise so you must be a little flexible, but do your best to keep with schedules. If you are traveling to a different time zone, then adjust as needed.

I always kept my little ones on West Coast time as much as possible when going back east, but sometimes I had to modify while traveling. I also used my parents’ house as my home-base and would ask extended family to visit me there instead of me having to bounce around from house to house.

Bring Familiar Items from Home

Be sure to pack some items that will make your baby or toddler feel like they’re at home. Pack sheets that smell like home, their lovey, download a white noise app if you use a white noise machine at home, a swaddle that smells like you or a few books that you typically read before nap and bedtime at your home. All of these items from home should make your little one feel more at ease falling asleep in a new or different environment. Also pack these items in your carry on, if in the even that your luggage gets lost, as least you’ll have these very important items with you at all times.

Stick to Your Nap & Bedtime Routine

Keep with your normal routine for naps and bedtime. If you do bottle, PJs, swaddle, book and bed, then be sure to do this same routine so everything is in sorts for your little one. Do your best not to introduce anything new that you normally wouldn’t do at home as this could cause problems when trying to break new habits when you get home.

Talk About Sleeping Arrangements Ahead of Time

Prepare your toddler for some of the changes with traveling. Ask them to choose a stuffed animal or two to bring along with them. Get them excited about traveling and explain they will be napping at Grandma and Grandpa’s, or wherever it is you’re staying. Make it exciting for them in advance.

Buy Disposables at Your Destination

If you are traveling to visit family, I always ask if they can borrow a playard or purchase one at a second-hand store for me and I can pay them back. If you are staying at a hotel, many have playards and cots to rent or borrow as well. This will make your life so much easier.

Additionally, I order disposable supplies like diapers, wipes, snacks, formula and anything I can purchase in advance and ship those to my destination. I do my best to pack limited amounts of these disposable items and order as much as I can in advance. The less that you have to pack and carry, the better.

Be Patient! 

The one thing we all need to get better at is having patience around the holidays. Even as adults we sometimes have a hard time sleeping in hotels or other people’s beds, no matter how nice the accommodations are. I had to tell myself this many times and be patient with my little ones if they had a hard time sleeping. I wouldn’t stress and did my best not to worry about my baby getting overtired. Instead I would just take a moment to take a deep breath. I knew there was always another nap on the horizon and I could always try again.

Featured Photo Courtesy: Oksana Kuzmina via 123RF

Desiree is a certified sleep consultant and holds her M.A. in Journalism from Point Park University. After having twins in 2008, she became slightly obsessed with infant sleep and sleep rhythms and wanted to help educate others. She resides with her husband and three children just 30 minutes north of Seattle.

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