3 Tips to Getting Your Toddler to Sleep In A Pack n’ Play

Looking for travel hacks and tips for vacations with toddlers? Check out our parenting tips for getting your tot to sleep in a pack and play!

Today I’m sharing my answers to the dilemma of “how to help my toddler sleep in a pack and play.” You might be thinking, ‘Does someone really have some tips and tricks on this dreadful task?’  Getting a toddler to sleep is a small miracle any night, let alone when you have to get him to sleep in a portable crib.  One of our Mommy readers wrote to us looking for tips and tricks to get her toddler to sleep in a pack and play.  If you have ever been in this situation, you know the pain and desperation she must be feeling!  When you are away from home, and your toddler won’t sleep, no one is going to sleep.

Related: Vacation Packing Tips With Twin Toddlers

How to Help My Toddler Sleep in a Pack and Play

We travel a lot and my kids are 7 and almost 18 months.  Thankfully now I can stick them both in the same bed, build a small barricade of pillows and cushions and know he won’t roll off the bed.  This wasn’t always the case.

When he was about a year old, we were basically living out of hotel rooms every weekend.  If you have ever traveled with a toddler, you know the pain. After you have watched the clock for what seems like an eternity for a decent hour to finally put the kids to bed, you can’t sit him in his crib where he is comfortable and can fall asleep (and can close the door).  Your world is flipped upside down when you stay in a hotel with a toddler.

I have a few tips and tricks I have learned along the way I would like to pass on, because as a Mom traveling with 2 small-ish children, getting a toddler to sleep in a pack and play can seem like a trade secret no one wants to share with you.

Tip #1: Tire him out

Your reason for having to stay in a hotel (or home of friend or family) is different than mine, whether it be for vacation, your house is being fumigated, or you are moving, a tired toddler is always easier to get to sleep.  If you are staying in a hotel, take him down to the pool and let him splash around.  Something about water play and small kids makes them tired.  Be sure when you bring him back up to the room, that the lights are low, and everyone is relatively quiet.  Then go about your nightly routine as best as you can.

Tip #2: A warm bath

I am sure you have heard (and probably experienced) your toddler fall asleep as a little easier after a warm bath and snuggly pajamas.

Tip #3: Comfort

(affiliate link) Pack and plays are not the most comfortable, at least the one I have for my son isn’t.  When we moved (after all the weekends of traveling) he actually had to sleep in his pack and play for a few weeks before I was able to get his crib.  I am not recommending you put a crib sheet on his mat; it is not safe, he can get stuck underneath it while sleeping and wake up crying because he can’t move.  I did make sure he had a few things that he was used to having, like a blanket and a small toy.  His comfort items, coupled with tiring him out and giving him a warm bath, made putting him to sleep in his pack and play a little easier.  I also like to stream classical music from my phone or tablet for him.

I won’t pretend to tell you that it went as smooth as if he were at home in his own crib.  Some nights while we were in the hotels, I had to bring him to bed with me, and then he seemed to sleep more soundly.  Sometimes you have to do things you normally wouldn’t do, for the sake of sleep (and the sanity of everyone else in the same room).

I hope these few tips will help your toddler get to sleep in his pack and play a little easier.  Taking a toddler out of his element and routine doesn’t just affect him, he likes to rope in everyone around him.  If he isn’t sleeping, nobody’s sleeping.

Do you have any helpful tips how to get your help your toddler sleep in a pack and play?  For the love of sleep, share them with us in the comment section below!

5 thoughts on “3 Tips to Getting Your Toddler to Sleep In A Pack n’ Play”

  1. I know it’s so hard getting them to sleep properly but i found outside activities wear them out quickly!

  2. These are definitely great tips , I know this year when we took a little one for just a short trip its about what we did, and make sure they are fed and clean and smiling all the way.. lots of toys..

  3. Awww My little ones are now teenagers, I remember them days, when bedtime was a time of tossing and turning and reading stories, singing lullabys. Hope more mamas and papas find this post

  4. I saw a video online of a baby being put to sleep by using a tissue on his face and making him close his eyes each time with a soft pass of the tissue.. apparently eventually it makes the baby feel tired because his eyes are closing in the same way as when he gets sleepy. Have you ever tried that?

  5. I know the pain! I have twins and we had to put them in separate rooms so that they can sleep properly without the other waking the other on up! What more if you’re traveling, I can only imagine. These are pretty good tips. Wearing them out is super effective, it’s just that you’re going to be worn out too! Lol.

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