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Top tips for sleep when away from home

Whether you are going abroad or just staying with the grandparents for a couple of days, sleeping in a new environment can be something parents regularly worry about with their little one.

My first tip is to lower you expectations.

That's not to say it's going to be a sh*t show.

But if we have an understanding that it might be a little sticky, and they may need some extra support, then we are prepared for it.

However, while it's not something I can guarantee, I hear countless stories of little ones sleeping much better than their personal norm when they are on holiday. Perhaps its the extra fresh air and outside time, different and exciting stimulation, and potentially even more relaxed parents.

Either way, I don't want you to assume it's going to be awful and for you to avoid experiences because of it.

I also want to note that it's okay to throw out the rule book while on holiday. Later naps, longer naps, later bedtime etc are all fine. Allow yourself the flex to enjoy your time away.


Where possible, plan your journeys around nap time. If they can nap in the car or on the train or plane, it can be helpful.

If that's not possible though, don't panic.

And even if you plan travelling during sleep time, it's helpful to be open to the concept of them not sleeping.

Try your best to go with the flow and understand this is a big experience for your little one.

If travelling in a car, remember to take breaks every two hours so they aren't in the seat for too long.

A sling/carrier can be extremely helpful for naps on the go, or for generally getting around airports and train stations.


Safe sleep guidelines for infant sleep and safe bed-sharing still apply when you are away.

Safety checking the room they will be in is paramount.

Some things to look out for -

  • Blind/curtain cords

  • Wires

  • Plug sockets

  • Furniture that could be moved/pulled down

  • For older children in their own room (not a hotel) you may want to use a portable stair gate so they can't access stairs or other areas of the property without you.

Sleep associations

Pack any transferable sleep associations.

For example -

  • Their bed or cot sheet. Used not clean.

  • Sleeping bag or duvet from home. Used not clean.

  • Their comforter or dummy/pacifer.

  • White/pink noise machine.

  • Portable black out blinds.

  • Bedtime book.

  • While not a sleep association, don't forget your monitor if you'll ever not be in the room with them.


Any elements of routine you can keep predictable, do. Especially in the bedtime routine.

Any elements of routine that are out of your control, let it go.

Don't stress over anything that you can't control.

You might see a bit of theme here. But finding it in yourself to go with the flow can make a big difference when you are away.

Make sure there is sufficient time for a wind down before and during the bedtime routine. There is likely to have been a lot of stimulation during the day. You are in a new place, seeing different people and experiencing new things. This is a lot for a little person.

Co-bathe if you can for some quiet connection at the end of the day. Follow similar steps in your bedtime routine as you do at home and include as many familiar sleep associations.

If they need a little extra support to get to sleep and during the night don't panic. You are NOT making bad habits.

Travel cot

If they will be sleeping in a travel cot and you have access to it before travelling, then try it out at home first.

Do some positive awake time in there at home. Don't use it as a playpen, as we don't want it associated with play. But some gentle play, singing or looking at books to acclimatise them to this new space.

Try a couple of naps in there too.

For children who are used to a floor bed, either take the mattress off the bed wherever you are staying, ask them for an extra mattress (single, cot or double all fine), or you can get blow up travel toddler beds.


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