Tips for Getting Baby Back on Schedule After Travel

Traveling with a baby requires a lot – a lot of flexibility, a lot of luggage, a lot of patience. Whether you’re traveling for the holidays, to visit family, or just for fun, going away with an infant can take a little bit more planning.

Taking your baby on vacation also requires a bit of acceptance – any change to your baby’s daily routine will likely affect your baby’s sleep schedule. Even if you try hard to keep your baby’s feeding and sleep schedule consistent when traveling and bring along some of the comforts from home, the likelihood of some part of the schedule shifting is inevitable.

In this article, we'll tackle some of the most common questions you may have about getting a baby back on schedule after a vacation, which includes how to help your baby to adjust to a different time zone and whether you need to revisit sleep training when you get home from vacation. We’ll also give you advice straight from sleep consultants on how to get your baby back on schedule after you get home from a trip.

How Does Traveling Impact My Baby’s Sleep?

Any change in your baby’s routine, whether it be a shift in naptime, change in environment, or new time zone, may impact your baby’s sleep schedule. Despite your best efforts to maintain consistency, sometimes even just the excitement of travel can make it harder for your baby to sleep.

Not being in their familiar sleeping space or different sleeping arrangements might also cause some changes to when they sleep.

Travelling with your baby can also lead to some new habits that they may continue to rely on when they get home. For example, if you are sharing a hotel room with your baby, they may become used to you sleeping nearby. Other times, if a strange environment makes it harder for them to settle to sleep and you help them by rocking or feeding them, they may develop a sleep association that’s continued when you get home.

However, as with anything, how travel affects your baby’s sleep schedule differs from little one to little one!

Tips to Help Your Baby Readjust to Their Schedule After Traveling Locally

If your baby’s sleep schedule is thrown after getting back from a vacation, don’t stress –sleep struggles and sleep regressions are normal after traveling. Even if you’re in the same time zone or just gone for a weekend, any disruption to your baby’s normal sleep schedule can be a trigger!

Here are tips for adjusting to getting home: If you were able to keep your baby on the same sleep schedule while on vacation, stick with it! It’s helpful to stay as close as possible to your baby's regular schedule if you’re staying in the same time zone.

If your baby’s sleep schedule shifts during travel though, don’t worry. There are ways to get them back on track quickly.

  • Slowly Readjust Their Schedule: When you get home you can start by putting them to bed at the same time they slept during your trip. Over the next few days adjust their bedtime by 15 minutes closer to their usual bedtime.

For example: if your baby usually goes to bed at 7:00 PM but goes down closer to 8:30 PM while you are away, continue with an 8:30 PM bedtime on your first night home. The next night try for 8:15 PM and then 8:00 PM the following night. Keep shifting back 15 minutes until you’re back on your schedule pre-travel.

  • Restart Their Bedtime Routine: A consistent bedtime routine and a calm sleep environment can signal that it’s time for sleep. Getting your baby back on track with their nightly routine is key for helping them readjust to being home from vacation.

  • Revisit Sleep Training: If you had implemented a sleep training approach before your trip, it can be helpful to reinforce that approach when you get home. Often this helps them get back in the swing of sleep fast. If your baby is still struggling with bedtime after vacation or you want to explore sleep training now that you’re home, the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ can walk you step-by-step through a sleep training method of your choice to help you get your baby back on track after travel.

How to Return Home from a Different Time Zone with a Baby

Traveling home from east to west time zone with baby

  • The first night home, put your baby down for sleep at the same time you put them to sleep while away according to the clocks

  • The next morning, wake your baby at their normal time, according to their schedule before you went away – the sunlight helps them realign with their circadian rhythm

  • The second night, shift bedtime a little closer to their usual bedtime before your trip – after a few nights their baby’s bedtime should be back to what it was before your trip

If your trip is longer than a week, some parents choose to start shifting your baby’s bedtime closer to their “home” bedtime a few days before they go home. For shorter trips, it’s often easiest to just wait until you get home.

Traveling home from west to east time zone with baby

  • The first night home, put your baby down to sleep at the same time you put them to sleep according to their bedtime when they were away. For example, if you live in New York and were visiting California where your baby went to sleep at 7PM PT, when you return home put your baby to sleep at 10PM ET.

  • The next morning wake them up at their normal wake up time at home. Get them outside – they may be a little cranky but it’ll help them adjust to being home!

  • That night, put them to sleep about 15 minute to 30 minutes closer to when they usually go to bed. For example, try 9:30PM ET if you were in California.

  • Continue waking your baby at their usual wake time and putting them to sleep closer to their usual bedtime until all is back to normal.

Do I Need to Sleep Train Again After Travel?

A common question sleep consultants are asked by parents going on vacation with a baby is, “Do I need to sleep train again after travel?”

Regardless of if you are changing time zones or not, if you sleep trained your baby in the past you may find that revisiting that sleep training approach can help your baby readjust to their sleep schedule.

If previously successful, sleep training can quickly remind your baby that it’s bedtime, helping them fall asleep faster and readjust to home after vacation faster.

If you're new to sleep training or interested in learning about what approach may work for your baby and parenting style, take this free 3-minute sleep quiz and get a personalized plan tailored to you.

The Bottom Line

Traveling with a baby can be wonderful – yet stressful. While a disruption to your baby’s sleep schedule may be inevitable when you go on vacation, there are ways to make the readjustment period when you return home easier for both you and your baby.

Don’t let concern of your baby’s sleep schedule while traveling deter you from getting out and exploring the world with them! There are ways to get them back on track when you get back to reality.

How We Wrote This Article The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.