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.
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.