baby proof: sleep away from home.

June 30, 2016


There have been a lot of questions and so here’s my best effort at answering how we’ve handled sleep and a toddler while spending more than a month away from home.

Here’s the thing: In my experience sleep away from home mimics pretty nearly sleep at home, which is to say, it’s anyone’s guess how it’s all gonna go down on a given night.

It will likely shock no one reading that we don’t own a travel crib and that therefore we don’t travel with one. We also don’t bring anything in the way of special bedding for Faye. For sure, she sleeps with her own set of blankets and other lovies while at home, but we don’t feel any urgency to tote that stuff with us and I don’t think it makes a lick of difference in how she sleeps. (We did bring a doll, which we promptly left behind at the second stop of our trip. Not to worry: she adopted a new bunny friend while visiting our dear friends this past week.)

On a typical night at home she sleeps soundly in her own crib-turned-toddler-bed for most of the night, but inevitably comes crawling into our bed around 5 o’clock in the morning. Hers are mostly welcome morning snuggles and at any rate, two years in we’ve grown accustomed to them. In general Faye sleeps fairly badly in a travel crib—for forty-eight different reasons, I’m sure—so unless there’s a real bed for her to sleep in all by herself, she tends to spend more time than usual in bed with us when we stay in hotel rooms.

If you’re not used the sensation of a two-year-old’s tiny elbows and knees jamming your ribcage, then this will undoubtedly be something of a shock to the system. If you are used to that particular kind of joy and if you find yourself suddenly in a hotel room with a king-sized bed, well, then you might feel like you’ve won the lottery and you might very well enjoy the best night’s sleep you’ve had in a while. No doubt there are families for whom any kind of co-sleeping is a non-option, in which case, I’m afraid I don’t have much in the way of advice to offer, other than reassurance that in every place we’ve stayed a crib has been at the ready and no one has blinked an eye when we’ve either asked for one or not asked for one.

When deciding between staying in an apartment or home versus hotel, it’s clear that a home offers a nice change of pace, a bit more privacy, and the chance to, say, enjoy a bit of adult conversation in the evening after putting a kid to sleep. But if that’s not an option, I’ll admit that we’ve also found that on nights when we’re staying in a more traditional hotel room, we’ve usually so exhausted ourselves during the day that everyone falling into the bed at the same time feels like the preferred option anyway.

The point is, I’ve found we can really make just about anything work. For myself, I believe in taking the path of least resistance which means that there’s a little bug in the bed next to me more often than not. As we say in France, tant mieux.

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  • Reply Genevieve Gil June 30, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Hotels often will provide a crib and bedding with advance notice, but we’ve also learned the hard way that by far the simplest option is parents on the ends of a king bed, and a toddler in the middle who takes turns lovingly smothering either parent. Were there a second child, I’d be at a loss.

  • Reply Guro June 30, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    Well, I have actually experienced five people in bed on av few occasions after my third child was born in January. It sure is interesting and sufficiently absurd to put a smile on my face. Though it’s impossible for me to sleep. For babies, the carrycot on the pram has come in handy a few times on visits where they had no crib.

  • Reply Rosabella June 30, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    I don’t have kids, but I still remember the first time I shared a bed with my nieces – while the six year old clutched her pillow and stuffed dog and slept soundly all night, the three year old opened up like a starfish, and gave flying kicks all night – and this was in a queen-sized bed!

  • Reply Nancy June 30, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    When my husband and I stay in a hotel with our three kids, we get a room with two beds. One of us will sleep with two kids, and the other will sleep with one kid. Usually, the kids decide who they want to sleep with. If you have an older kid that prefers to sleep alone, you can request a cot or a room that has a pull-out couch in addition to the beds.

  • Reply MYRICA June 30, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    What a comforting and timely post! Going on our first overnight trip with our 2 year old this week, and I was feeling a little nervous about sleeping arrangements. I appreciate your simple and confident approach. It’s as good as a reassuring pat on the back of the hand! Thanks for that.

  • Reply Alicia | FreshBabyGear July 1, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    I remember well these days, when going on a vacation meant one thing – how are we going to sleep when the toddler will decide to jump in our bed and push us aside. But here’s what happened, the villa owner provided us with a lovely crib and our kid really enjoyed sleeping in there, which wasn’t the case at home, where she was always sneaking in our bed every morning. I guess, all kids are different.

    • Reply Erin Boyle July 4, 2016 at 7:01 am

      The moral of the story, for sure.

  • Reply Kim July 2, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    I totally agree with your approach. I would also add that I personally think it’s important for kids to learn to sleep without too many crutches that you need to tote about and in different places! Hope the jet lag on the way home isn’t too rough!

  • Reply nina July 4, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    We’ve been sleeping away from home with our 1 1/2 y/o a lot – and actually came home from a wedding out of town just today! We coslept until she was one, and usually pick up the habit again when we’re away from home. The only demand is a big enough be. The exact size is probably pretty individual, but it’s always been information ready at hand in every hotel and B&B we’ve stayed at. Also we have been offered cribs in hotels etc, if we’d rather prefer that.
    Best advice for some parent time is getting a room with a balcony – if you’re at a place where evenings are balmy enough to spend outside. We always stick to the same routine when tucking in no matter where we are, which works well for us, but haven’t dealt with jet lag yet.

  • Reply thedailyweeklyblog July 6, 2016 at 10:26 am

    I am thinking to have a baby but your posts about these…gives me positive energy.

  • Reply Helen July 11, 2016 at 12:36 am

    Love it! We borrowed a travel crib for our road trip- but after about an hour with our son in it, we realized it just wouldn’t work. So we all cozied in bed and I was happy to get that thing returned to our friend when we made it home! Some mornings required extra coffee- but that’s pretty much the way of parenthood. Now we know that travel crib won’t work- I’m looking forward to one less thing to pack on the next trip.

    • Reply Erin Boyle July 11, 2016 at 6:58 am

      Ha! Love that: “Pretty much the way of parenthood.” Yes and yes.

  • Reply Shona August 21, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    I miss those early morning (aka just past midnight) snuggles. They feel never ending while you’re there but pass so quickly. Happy memories are made in over crowded beds.

  • Reply Stacie September 28, 2016 at 9:34 am

    I really love reading your posts about parenthood. They spark within me how I feel about how my husband and I will parent, and how I’m not too worried about materialistic objects and things that a lot of our friends and family ask us about (do we need a pack and play?! no, no I don’t think we do. Nor do we need a stroller right away). It’s so nice to just see that it works, and life doesn’t have to be so complicated, even with a little one coming in December.

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