7 Tips to Help Your Baby Sleep in Any Hotel Room
Hotel stays used to be all about lazy mornings in comfy beds, room service, and trips to the in-house spa…or they were in-and-out pit stops to catch some ZZZs before heading to the next adventure! But as a parent, the idea of staying in a hotel hits a little different. In fact, it may even strike fear in your heart. Where will my baby sleep? Do I have to go to bed before sundown, too? Will any of us rest? First, take a deep breath!
There are a few reasons why babies and toddlers have trouble snoozing in hotel rooms, including the simple fact that they are in a different environment than they are used to. Little ones love routines and familiarity, so being in a new home-away-from home can throw even the best sleepers for a loop. The cot, the temperature, the smells, the annoying light from under the door are all different! Plus, hotel stays often go hand-in-hand with long travel, which can leave babies and toddlers jetlagged and/or overtired. (Being overtired triggers babies’ fight-or-flight response, which unleashes the hormone cortisol that keeps babies alert.) Finally, for kiddos who’ve already graduated to sleeping in their own room, snoozing close to Mom or Dad again can stir up all kinds of sleep-sapping distractions.
While staying in a hotel room with Baby does require some forethought and planning, the whole family can enjoy sound sleep in a hotel by following these tips!
Prioritize sleep when you pick your hotel room.
When securing your hotel room, you may want to forgo the ease of online booking and jump on the phone to ensure you get a corner room on a higher floor, away from the lobby, elevators, and conference rooms—these rooms tend to be the quietest. If possible, splurge on (or use your points to upgrade to) a suite, an extra-large room, or connecting rooms where you can keep the door open. The more space you have to spread out, the easier it’ll be to set up a makeshift nursery or kid bedroom. (PS: If you can swing a hotel room with a balcony, consider that slice of outdoors your date night spot while your bub snoozes!)
Create a separate baby sleep space in your hotel room.
There is no shame in setting up your baby’s cot in your hotel bathroom or inside a well-ventilated, door-cracked, walk-in closet or nook. After all, having a dark, quiet, separate space for your little one is ideal, right?! Another option: Set up a boundary between your bed and your baby by placing your baby’s cot behind a sofa or an open door within the hotel room.
BYOBB (bring your own baby bedding!).
While the cot itself may be unfamiliar, make sure the rest of your little one’s sleep accouterments are the same, such as Baby’s sleep sack or swaddle and cot sheets. In fact, do not even pack a freshly laundered sheet! Instead, take a clean-ish fitted sheet right off your bub’s cot from home to use at the hotel. The familiar scent will help your sweet pea settle down. If your baby will be sleeping in a play yard at the hotel, arrange to have them sleep in one at home first. The more familiarity the better! Also helpful: Set up the baby cot—and everything you need—upon your arrival. This way, your kiddo can adjust to seeing the new sleep set up before turn-in time.
Travel with SNOO if possible.
If your baby has been getting lulled to dreamland in SNOO, think about taking it along. Your reboxed SNOO will take up roughly 8 cubic feet in your trunk—or you may be able to check it as oversized luggage on your flight. (Call first!) If traveling with SNOO is not doable, do not fret! Babies tend to sleep okay in hotels without SNOO if you stay fewer than seven days, your baby has slept well in SNOO for one to two months, you continue swaddling, and you use a strong white noise machine during sleepytime.
Use white noise to help your baby sleep in a hotel.
A high-quality white noise machine can activate a baby’s natural calming reflex, which is their inborn “off switch” for crying and “on switch” for sleep. (White noise, aka shushing, is an integral part of Dr. Harvey Karp’s groundbreaking 5 S’s for soothing babies.) And a white noise machine can mask potential sleep-disrupting sounds, like the ding of an elevator, too-loud hotel guests, or snoring…which is fantastic for babies, toddlers, big kids, and you!
While you may be tempted to simply play any ol’ white noise from your phone, know that a phone speaker makes white noise sound hissy or tinny, which is not ideal for sleep. Instead, take a portable white noise machine with you, like easy-to-pack SNOObie or on-the-go SNOObear, both of which feature the same award-winning white noise sounds babies love in SNOO, with a few extra features.
Set the hotel room thermostat to the right temperature.
No matter the season, it is best to keep your baby’s sleep space hovering between 20 to 22.2 degrees Celsius. The problem? Hotel room thermostats are notoriously hard to adjust! If you cannot get the right temperature on your own, reach out to the front desk and ask them to help adjust the room temperature for safe and comfortable sleep. (Too-hot hotel rooms can cause your infant to overheat, which can raise their risk of infant sleep death syndrome.) If the hotel staff is unhelpful, consider these hotel thermostat hacks from The Points Guy or pack a travel fan.
Use blackout curtains…or make your own!
While it is ideal to have blackout curtains in your hotel room, it is not the end of the world if your hotel room does not have them. (Unsure if your upcoming hotel stay will feature light-blocking curtains? Call ahead and ask.) You can buy a portable blackout curtain to take with you or you can simply pack black trash bags or dark paper and painter's tape to make your own. (That tape can come in handy if you need to babyproof your hotel room, too.) You can also stash chip clips, binder clips, or clothespins in your suitcase. They can be used to secure hotel curtains closed. Forgot to pack clothespins? Look in your hotel closet. If you spot hangers with clips, use them to hold the curtains together.
Final Thoughts on Helping Baby Sleep in a Hotel Room
Doing all the above is super-important for helping your little one get the ZZZs they need while traveling…but so is sticking to your regular bedtime routine as much as you can. That means, if you dim the lights and put your little one’s white noise machine on an hour before lights-out, do that in the hotel as well. If you read a special story and snuggle with Mr. Bear together before tuck-in time, do the same. Finally, be sure to stick to all the safe-sleep rules you’ve been abiding by at home, including resisting the temptation to bed-share with babies under a year old.
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.