6 secrets to help kids sleep anywhere

Psst! Want to know a secret? Kids can sleep anywhere. It just takes a little prep. We’ve all heard horror stories about parents losing sleep while away from home or missing family vacations all together because their kids just don’t sleep well. You know what? Friends don’t let friends miss out on vacations. So here are a few more secrets to make siestas more likely...

Start small

When babies are born, they can and do sleep anywhere (typically 16 to 17 hours a day!). It’s only later when they’re trained to sleep in the same place that they have trouble sleeping out of their comfort zones. As parents, we can teach kids to sleep on cue starting when they’re small, or if we miss the window, we can start small with sleep-anywhere training sessions. Try helping kids sleep beyond their beds. Take them places during naptime, move a pack ‘n’ play to different rooms, spend the night at friends and families’ houses. Also practice sleeping on the go by being out and about at naptime. Try all scenarios before you hit the road so kids are ready to snooze while away from home.

Pick props

Baby experts discourage sleep props that require you and your presence (think nursing, rocking or swinging to sleep), but a few strategic and short-term sleep association items will help train your sweeties for the long-run. Try equipping your tiny one with a swaddle, pacifier and the same soft blanket whenever it’s nap or bedtime. Then avoid Linus- and Maggie Simpson-style blanket and pacifier use and only pull them out when it’s time to rest. Later, take away the pacifier (we recommend taking it away at a year so it doesn’t interfere with teeth), but keep the blanket in their bed (wherever their bed may be).

Prep the piggies

The National Sleep Foundation and the International Weekly Journal of Science both report warm feet are scientifically proven to help you fall asleep faster. Heating cold feet causes blood vessel dilation, which signals bedtime to the brain. For babies, make sure they have with a warm sleeper or sleep sack to keep their feet snug. For older kids, prep their piggies with magic “sleepy socks” that match their pjs (and get them into the right frame of mind). Later, feel free pull out the sleepy socks on planes, trains or car rides when it’s time to rest.

Pick a routine

No matter where you might be, stick to your at-home routines. The basics are fine. For naptime, maybe it’s a bathroom break or diaper change and a story. For bedtime, a warm bath and lavender lotion (psychological relaxation techniques), brushing teeth, a story and/or a song to signify the end of the day. Bring travel-size bath essentials and a tiny book or two so you can simulate the experience of being on the way to dreamland anywhere, anytime.

Block the bright

Kids are less likely to fall asleep if they can see you’re still having an awesome time. Block the view by putting babies in a pack ‘n’ play or crib in another room or if you’re in a hotel, in a closet or a bathroom. For kids, check out our BYOB (build your own bed) tutorial to create a separate spot or cocoon for them. When they fall asleep, adjust the setup to keep out bright, natural light so that they don’t wake up with the sun.


As you establish or reestablish your nap and bedtime routines, continue to challenge your sweetie’s sleep skills to keep them up to par. Move them from a pack ‘n’ play to the stroller to different beds so they’re ready to sleep everywhere from hotels to a plane, car or train. Encourage kids to carry their sleep association goodies (blanket and socks) and let them know they’re welcome to get them out once they’re settled and it’s time to snooze.