This is Ask FamiliesGo!, where we answer our readers’ questions about family travel. We add new questions as our readers pose them, so keep checking back. You can ask your own question by emailing us.
Question: How Do Families With Toddlers Sleep in Hotel Rooms?
This is one of these things about family travel that I really don’t understand. There are entire cities where there don’t seem to be any hotels that have suites.
Where does a baby or toddler sleep in a hotel room?
How do you share a hotel room with littel kids and make sure that they get enough sleep without going to bed yourself at 7:30?
Sharing a hotel room with a baby, toddler or preschooler is one of the perennial challenges of family vacations. There are rare parents lucky enough to have kids who fall asleep with lights and even the TV on.
For the rest of us there is no ideal solution, just a lot of improvising. The good news is that it gets easier as kids get older, fall asleep later and adjust to new settings more easily.
One thing we have working in our favor is that families are usually pretty active on vacation, so kids are tired and ready to fall asleep at bedtime. Some sleep more easily and more deeply than they do at home.
Here are a tips for sharing a hotel room with kids. Let us know what works for you.
Skip the Hotel
The first option is to give up on hotels entirely for a few years and to use services like VRBO to find a house or an apartment.
You give up conveniences like housekeeping, pool and a restaurant just downstairs, but you gain a living room, which makes bedtime and naptime more manageable. And you have a kitchen, which is handy with kids.
If you really prefer or need to be in a hotel there are tricks to try.
Get Out of Sight
If you’re visiting a beach destination book a hotel with a balcony or patio. That can become the second room where you hang out and read during naps or have a glass of wine and talk after bedtime.
No balcony? Then the answer is to find a way to hide, either yourselves or the baby.
We’ve turned the lights out temporarily and then turned them back on again after we were sure Tiny Traveler was sound asleep. If she stayed asleep we read or watched Netflix with the sound low on a tablet or laptop.
In hotels with nice bathrooms we’ve also hung out in the bathroom (the sink is handy for chilling wine) to read and talk.
If kids are still in a crib or playard some parents position it in the small foyer area by the door or, if the sink is outside of the bathroom, in that alcove.
That can be enough distance to convince babies you aren’t in the room so they’ll settle down and sleep.
Jessica Bowers of Suitcases and Sippy Cups travels with an expandable shower rod that she can put up and hang a light blanket over to further separate the playard in the foyer from the rest of the room.
With kids who are sleeping in beds Kate Kristian Spiller from Wild Tales Of uses strong tape or a travel clothesline and a sheet to divide her hotel room in two.
Bowers has also draped a light blanket over a crib or playard. She says this can be enough to convince babies that you’ve left the room.
Just leave room between the crib and the wall and only cover three sides so there is ventilation.
LiLing Pang and several readers have used a *Pea Pod Tent. “It’s super lightweight. We would put a sheet over it to create a dark room and use a white-noise machine to mask our movements. You can even put it on top of the bed.”
Some readers are using the SnoozeShade Pack & Play Canopy. It’s a polyester mesh cover that’s shaped to drape over most standard pack n plays and many travel cribs.
The top covers half of the Pack n Play so it’s dark where your baby is sleeping, but you can easily reach in. It has mesh windows on each side with flaps you can roll up and down to provide some light. It blocks out 98% of light, gives you privacy and folds up to fit in your suitcase.
Lillie Marshall recommends a really light pop-up tent when kids outgrow the Peapod.
We’ve also brought baby monitors with us so we could leave the hotel room and hang out in the lounge or bar while Tiny Traveler fell asleep. How well this works depends on the layout of the hotel and how close you are to the lobby.
Keep Kids Up Later
Finally, once Tiny Traveler was 5 or so we would let her stay up later than usual on vacation. We often go to bed earlier on vacation so this closed the gap between our bedtime and hers quite a bit.
This will only work out well though, if your kids will sleep a little later in the morning. If they’re up at 6:00 AM no matter when they go to bed this will result in overtired cranky kids, and nothing kills a vacation faster than that.
Have a Question About Travel With Kids?
Send us an email. We’ll answer your question in a post within 72 hours.
Where Does the Baby Sleep When the Hotel Has No Crib?
At home we often lie down with our 19-month old until he falls asleep and then we put him back in his crib. When we travel sometimes the hotel has no crib or it’s easier to just let him stay with us all night.
But there isn’t room for three of us in a double bed and we’re afraid he’ll role off a regular bed if he sleeps there by himself.
What are our options for sleeping in a hotel room with a baby?
When we couldn’t get a crib I used to line the extra hotel pillows up on either side of my daughter. Or line them up one side if you’re co- sleeping.
Unless you have a really active sleeper it should enough to keep her in the middle.
Tiny Traveler also liked to sleep perpendicular to the headboard. It gave her a wall to nestle into and that made her less likely to roll off. You can try positioning your child that way and see if that works.
You can also ask for a room with one king instead of two doubles. With a little one, three can sleep pretty comfortably in the bigger bed.
Several of our readers like inflatable bed rails from Shrunks. It’s yet another thing to carry but could be just the thing you need for a year or two.
Pin it for later!
Have a question on family travel? Ask FamiliesGo! and we’ll do our best to answer your email and here on the website.