Sleeping/Napping While Traveling!

Updated on March 30, 2009
A.T. asks from Puyallup, WA
16 answers

I am planning our first trip to the East coast in a few weeks. My son will be 2 in May and we have never traveled more than an hour or so with him in the car. He has always taken naps in his crib at home (he never slept in his pack and play or on a bed). This is totally my fault, thinking that it was best that he be home in time to nap in his own crib. First time mom mistake. Now, I am afraid to travel because he can climb out of his pack and play and I know he will not stay in the bed. Will I be forced to go to bed at the same time he does so that I can ensure he won't fall out or get up a million times??? Also, the airline web site says that children do not need identification. How can this be true if they want children 2 and over to buy a seat (won't they need verification)?

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A.B.

answers from Portland on

Children DO need ID to travel, a copy of the birth certificate should work, they need it for passenger itenerary and TSA may ask for it too.

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Z.A.

answers from Seattle on

Unless there's an amber alert out, airlines don't *usually* ask for id for infants/children, unless you're traveling internationally...because it's not required by law for children to have ID's. That said...bring a copy of the BC. You'll probably not need it, but it saves a hassle in case there IS an amber alert out. You can also get a state ID, or a passport for your wee one (although a passport would probably take too long to get here).

Our rules with traveling with young children is this: All rules out the window. Whatever works, works...and it makes traveling FUN. They catch on REAL quick that traveling is different, and that travel rules don't apply at home. (Ahem, this doesn't mean that it's okay to bite, etc. But I bet any mum knows what I mean when I say "rules out the window".) Nap times move around, there are treats out the kazoo, they get to stay up late, watch movies, etc. As long as you're not stressed out, they'll be fine. Resilient little guys.

You can never insure any child will not "get out" or "get up", at home or traveling. So toss that fear out, too. Just do, traveling, what you would do at home. Calmly, gently, put. them. back. to. bed. :) Also, it's easier to deal with escaped toddlers when you ARE awake...so no fears as to going to bed with them. <laughing> and DON'T stay up all night! Business as usual.

He's 2, so he'll be able to understand you telling him that his p'n'p at Gramma's is just like his bed at home. Special blah blah blah, etc. He may not LISTEN, but hey, that's age appropriate...and he WILL hear you.

Something we've always done in crowded places, btw, like Pike Place, or the airport, etc, is to write my cell number from elbow to wrist in sharpie on my son's arm. We've never needed it (yet!), but it always makes me feel better. At best, it means that the good Samaritan/police officer/employee has a number to call...and at worst a kidnapper has one for ransoms. (LOL...in a macabre way, I've always been tempted to "all ransoms paid"...but I never actually have.) At the first baseball game we took him to, one of the ushers spied it and whipped out her sharpie with a grin and wrote our Section/Seat numbers on the other arm. She said on average they get around 10 lost kids per game, and LOVED it when parents were willing to give they little ones temporary tattoos.

It's a short flight to the east coast, especially if you don't have any connections. If you would like to get him a little "prepared" for it...aka sleeping in a carseat...go on a long drive around naptime. And remember, even if you've never been more then an hour away, I'd be willing to BET there are days when your son has spent more then five hours in the car. Same thing, really. Except that you don't have to pull over to change diapers, or to buy a drink.

Have a great trip!

5 moms found this helpful
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J.R.

answers from Seattle on

don't know how your son sleeps, obviously, but we always have let our son sleep on a bed, cleared of everything, pillows on the floor and around the very edges - a queen sized bed is pretty big, and a 2 year old is pretty small! He falls asleep just fine...you don't need id for a child on a plane - the might ask for id if you DON'T buy a seat and the kid looks like he/she is 2...but if your son is 2, you should be buying a seat anyway, so there is nothing to question...

2 moms found this helpful
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A.W.

answers from Seattle on

It is correct that the airlines do not need id for your child. I think under age 16 or 18 do not need id if traveling with the parent. Yes, it is weird. If you feel better you can go get a passport for your child but it might take too long.

When we travel and don't have our crib with us, we do one of two things. I usually lay down with my daughter until she falls asleep and put pillows all around her and she is pretty good for the first 4 hours, she doesn't move much, but after that, she is a wiggle worm. So many times we make a bed on the floor for her. I have a hard time sleeping with her in my bed, hence we made the floor bed. They do have some aerobeds that have bolsters on them and we are looking to get one of those now.

Good luck.

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S.W.

answers from Seattle on

I would either bring a bed rail or purchase one when you get there to put on the bed so you don't have to worry about him falling out of bed. what we did when our son had to sleep in a bed for the first time on vacation was to lay down with him until he fell asleep. Once he was asleep he was fine. the bed rail kept him from falling out and we didn't have to stay up worrying. make sure you tell him where you are so he can find you if he wakes up in the middle of the night. I personally wouldn't even try the pack n play. I'm guessing he would be too big to sleep comfortably in it anyway. As far as the ID for him at the airport. you don't need it. I know it's crazy. I actually wish they would require it as a safety measure. Good luck on your trip. It will go better than you think so try to enjoy it!

1 mom found this helpful
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T.P.

answers from Portland on

I had similar worries with my 18m old DD while traveling, but she actually did fine in the PNP at grandmas house. She never climbed out (even though I know she can) and aside from the first night (new place, hectic day traveling), she slept just fine. I did have grandma hang a blanket over the window though since we have dark curtains at home. I think part of it was that she was just completely tuckered out each naptime and at night with all the activities we did. I made sure to bring the blankie from her crib and her lovey bear for her bed so it smelled like home and I think that helped. Toddlers are still very much smell oriented so having her bed smell like home is a key to helping sleep better in a new situation.

As for the identification, I took a copy of her birth certificate since she is tall for her age and looks at least 2 yrs old. On the flight out they didn't ask for it, but on the flight home they did (we flew Southwest). Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. I took it not to prove who she was, but to prove she was under 2 and didn't need a ticket.

1 mom found this helpful
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D.B.

answers from Portland on

Hi I worked for the airlines for 10 years, and this is what I saw work best for families. If you are traveling with someone, have them board first and get everything set up, so you can have him run around until the last minute.....otherwise you will be sitting on the plane for about 30 minutes until the plane even leaves the gate! If you can, use his carseat, he is familiar with it and knows it is time to stay still when in the carseat, otherwise they don't sit still for long in the airplane seat. As far as ID goes, he will not need it to fly, however, he will need it to verify he is under two if you did not purchase a seat for him. If you did not purchase a seat for him, then you will only be able to use the carseat if the flight is not full. Also, if you have a dvd player, that REALLY helps keep them busy. I think you will be surprised that it will go better than you think....have a great flight! Hope that helps.

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J.H.

answers from Portland on

First off, you were right to keep your son in his crib for naps. That's where he'll sleep best, and there's no reason to sacrifice the routines of daily sleep just because you might travel now and then. Every friend I have who thought she could create a "sleep anywhere" baby now has a child with sleep problems--or an 18mo who will still only nap stuffed into his infant swing that he outgrew long ago.

My son is 19mo, and he's also only slept in his crib. He's a great sleeper. But we do visit his grandparents from time to time, and he has to sleep in a travel bed. We bought a Phil and Ted's travel bed. It was pricey but it's very lightweight and portable when folded up, and he sleeps just fine in it at night. It is enclosed on the top so that he can't climb out, although mine has never tried. He usually won't nap as well, sometimes not at all the first day, but he sleeps at night just as if he were in his own crib, and naps get better after the first day.

I have friends who also swear by the PeaPod travel bed, which is about half the price of the Phil and Ted's.

1 mom found this helpful
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T.B.

answers from Portland on

First, traveling is tiring. Your little one will probably crash pretty hard on most nights. Can you borrow a crib from someone out east? Many times someone knows someone who may have one in a garage that you can borrow. My ds only slept in his crib at home, but when we traveled he was just fine. Do you know for sure that he can get out of a PNP? Maybe getting a crib tent will help if a crib cannot be borrowed.

Some other traveling tips:
*Bring only the amt. of diapers you'll need for the flight. Buy a pack when you get there. Same with wipes. They're too bulky to pack.
*Wear slip on shoes in the airport - you and son. This will help getting through security easier.
*take your stroller all the way up to the doorway of the airplane. The stroller will help not only keep your little one contained, but also help you carry all the [email protected]____.com you'll need on the plane. When you get to the gate, you'll need to check in the stroller. Then you literally wheel it up to the door of the plane, empty it, fold it up and leave it. They'll come get it AND when you land, the stroller will be right there at the door of the plane!!

I've always carried a copy of ds's birth cert. in my purse when traveling. We've traveled a lot, no, I've never been asked to "identify" my son. I just bring the BC as a precaution. You never know when you may get that 1 stickler for the rules.

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J.W.

answers from Seattle on

Kids don't need ID at his age because they don't suspect them to be terrorists. Sleeping on a big bed will be okay. If you're afraid of him rolling off the bed, use pillows as a bolster/barrier. He might have some insomnia because it's a new place, but that's normal, and you may have to lay down with him to comfort him, but he will adjust. It's normal. You don't say if you're staying in a hotel or with friends/relatives. If you're staying in a hotel, they often have cribs that they can bring to you room to use. This might be something to check into in advance. If you're staying with friends/family who have recently had young kids or put their cribs away, they might be willing to share/bring it out for your stay if you're concerned that his sleeping arrangements are a big concern. You're going on a family trip with a young toddler. This trip you'll have to stay on his schedule for sleep and meals, activities will have to be something he can enjoy and occassionally participate in. It's part of being a family, and as they grow, you grow. You get to see the world thru a whole new fresh set of eyes. Enjoy it!!! It's totally awesome.

1 mom found this helpful
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M.S.

answers from Seattle on

Hi A.~
Do not kick yourself for teaching your child to sleep in his crib. One of the best things we can do for our children is have them on a schedule, starting at birth. I believe that many of the childhood issues can be directly linked to sleep -often lack of as well as inconsistent routines. Think about how cranky we, as adults, get when we don't get enough sleep or when our sleep is disrupted. It's 10-fold for children. Whenever we traveled and stayed at a hotel, I would call ahead and have them have set one up in the room BEFORE we got there. It was familiar for them because that's the only place they had ever slept. Even if they weren't ready for sleep when we arrived, we would plop them in it to contain them while we unpacked and checked the room out for safety issues. If the place didn't have cribs, we didn't stay there and no amount of other amenities would outweigh the need for a crib. When we would stay with friends or family who didn't have cribs, we would rent one from the local rental place and again, be sure it was set up BEFORE we arrived. (I say BEFORE because believe it or not, even with young children, sometimes we're early!) The one time a hotel told us that they would have one in the room for us, but didn't, I went directly to the manager and explained the importance of our request, he totally understood and admitted he had never thought about that before. He gave us gave an extra night free, as well as great VIP discount coupons to areas restaurants, shows, kid-friendly venues, etc. When I sent a thank you to him, he wrote me back and informed me that a new policy at their hotel was that when people made reservations the staff was instructed to ask if a crib will be needed, and if people arrived on a whim and had small children, they were also offered the use of a crib.
Your concern is so valid and I wish more parents would think about that when traveling with young children-it's so much better for the child, which makes it better for you and more enjoyable for you and the rest of the people in your group.
BTW~when staying at a hotel, I always pack a can of Lysol and spray everything down before touching anything, especially the T.V. remote, phone and door knobs. You probably can't bring an aresol can on the plane, but you could certainly pack disinfecting wipes.
Good luck and kudos to you for having your child in a predictable routine and it is definitely NOT a mistake!

Have fun,
Mary

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S.B.

answers from Seattle on

We have traveled by plane with our kids many times and they do not need identification. They will check yours and your hubby's, but they do not require id for children. So, please don't worry about that!!!

Bring the pack n play....sometimes even though kiddos may not do something at home, they will in a new environment. Plus, he'll be tired from traveling and seeing all the new people/places...so he may just fall asleep without even trying to climb out. If he does climb out, just put him back in and tell him its time to go to sleep. You might have to do this a few times the first day/night, but he'll get it eventually!

My kids usually fall asleep on the plane...the sounds and the motion put them right out. Bring something he can suck on during take off and landing...a sippy cup, pacifier (if he uses one), a lollipop...or something he can chew on...fruit snacks, etc. This will help his ears! Bring a few small new-to-him toys that will keep him occupied on the plane. I love the crayola coloring sets with the markers that only draw on special paper...that means no mess on the seats in front of you! LOL!

One more thing...if the flight is rough and your son cries...don't worry about it! Some passengers are crabby and either never had kids or forgot what it was like to have young children...these will be the ones with loud sighs and dirty looks. IGNORE them!!! You are not doing anything wrong and neither is your baby!! Try not to take it to heart and remember that they are the ones with the problem...not you!!! Just do the best you can and take a deep breath and relax! We once flew from TX to CA and our baby (she was around 8 months at the time) cried almost the entire plane ride (4 hours!)...turns out she was cutting a tooth! And, I'm sure her ears were bothering her! We were seated next to a lovely young girl who didn't seem to mind, thankfully! But, I'm sure some of the other passengers hated us! There's only so much you can actually control!

Hope you have a wonderful trip!!!
=) S.

C.S.

answers from Medford on

My kids (4 and almost 2) were 3 1/2 and just turned 1 when we made a trip to Alaska. It took two flights including a 5 hour layover (stuck in an airport). We also travel a ton compared to other families so we have gotten used to life on the road.
Its not a new mom thing to think sleeping at home is best. I completely agree.But sometimes you cant help it. I used to STRESS to the max about napping because our daughter is a terrible sleeper...but I find the less I stress the better it is...if they sleep good great, if not, just go with the flow. Its just something you have to get through in order to have the experiance of traveling.
As for the air travel itself. We got lucky, our 1 year old would literally passout the moment we took off and would not wake up until we landed. Something about the vibrations of the airplane would put him to sleep! Our 3 year old did well with movies. We packed special toys and activities in a backpack that they didnt see until we were on the plane, so it was brand new...Also, most airports have playgrounds inside...something we found out 4 hours late into our layover! But hit it right away on the way back!
As for falling out of a "big" bed...take an extra blanket, roll it up longwase and tuck it under the fitted sheet, it will work as a barrier to "help" from rolling out of bed.
RELAX, deal with what comes and let it go, have fun, and take TONS of pictures!!!!

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J.R.

answers from Seattle on

If he's still in a crib then I would try the pack and play on the east coast. The bed would be a pretty big adjustment from a body control perspective when he's sleeping. I think he would fall out when he's flopping around during the night.

For the flight, I would bring a roll of masking tape and paper - cheaper than stickers - although security might have an issue with it!

Good luck.

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C.K.

answers from Seattle on

Hi A.,
I am not sure if you are in a hotel or staying with family. If you stay with family, you can rent things such as PNPs, cribs, high chairs or the Pea Pod that was mentioned rather than bringing it. Also, (not really related to your question), bring his car seat on the plane. We were just on a 5 hr. flight with our 2 yr. old and if she wasn't strapped in, she would have been crazy. She also didn't take a nap on the plane because she was soo excited, although on another trip, she fell asleep in the airport. If you can, buy an I-Touch. I got one and it is great for them to watch their movies, shows etc.. on. The screen is the biggest I've found of portable mp3s. I didn't want a DVD player because you have to bring the player and the DVDs. If you want something cheaper, go to Amazon and look at the Disney Mix Max. That is smaller but really nice and portable. It isn't too user friendly in that it isn't made for our age kiddos, so downloading stuff is trickier. (So was the I-Touch if you don't want to buy things from I-Tunes. I had my parents Tivo my daughter's favorite cartoons, then I reformatted the DVD so that I could download it to the I-Touch.)
Also, get cheap toys for him. I recently found cute pads of paper and great sticker tablets for a dollar each in the dollar bins at Michaels.
I agree with the mom who said "most" rules are out the window. You just want them to be happy and get through the travel! Good luck!
C.

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D.E.

answers from Portland on

Good luck on the nap thing. I recently took a trip with my 2yr old daughter and we stayed two weeks in a hotel and we even got an extra bedroom so it would be nice and quiet and we could encourage her to take naps but she only took one nap the whole time. Luckily she fell right back into bedtime routines when she got back. As for travel yes it is true that you need to buy a seat. I don't know about I.D. because my daughter had a passport. I'd call the airline and ask them.

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