How to bring a baby on tour (and sleep through the night!)

Baby on board!

Headed out on a tour and bringing baby along? Awesome! I promise you, your baby doesn’t care where they are, as long as they are with you. However…babies definitely have some very specific needs, and meeting these needs is the key to a happy, well-rested baby (and everyone else!)

Unless co-sleeping, babies need a place just for them. Creating an inviting sleep space for them will make a very big difference in their (and your) quality of sleep. Here are a few ideas:

Turn one of the bunks into a crib, and another into a changing area.

For the crib bunk:

  • Make sure there is only a tight, fitted sheet on the mattress.
  • Take down anything in the bunk that the baby could one day reach.
  • Depending on baby’s age, use a toddler rail to act as a barrier so baby can’t roll out. After about 4 months, I suggest having a custom rail installed so baby can’t push on it and fall out.

For the changing bunk:

  •  Use a waterproof mattress pad underneath. I divide the changing bunk in half; ½ is for a basket with wipers, diapers, diaper cream, etc and for changing baby’s diaper, while the other ½ is for changing and dressing baby.
  • Have a few small baskets or bins labeled and organized on the bunk below so that clothing, blankets, and other various accessories for baby are within easy reach, easy to find, and easy to put away.
  • Have a separate bin or bag for dirty laundry.

Important: Always have 6 fitted sheets and 6 mattress pads. 3 are for the bunk or crib where baby is sleeping, while the other 3 are for the diaper changing/clothing area. One is for right now, one is for when it needs to be changed, and one is in the dirty laundry… this way, you always have one clean for each area.

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This bunk hallway on a tour bus sleeps 12 adults or 10 with baby!

Or, use the back room as a nursery for you and/or the baby!

If your bus is set up with a room for you and/or baby in the back, use a small crib, bassinet, or pack-in-play. Closets and other small areas work too. Once baby is old enough to realize you are there, I would recommend creating a barrier between you and baby, so that your baby can’t see you. This can be as simple as having a curtain rod installed in the ceiling and using floor-length curtains to create a small, private area for baby.

Easy listening

It’s important to keep in mind that babies startle easily! Not only do they startle easily, but having a quiet bus with all the different sounds is not going to happen…lucky for you, babies do love noise…especially white noise. Buy a white noise machine for when the bus is parked, and have it about 5-7 feet away from baby. It should be as loud as a vacuum so don’t be afraid of the volume…it reminds your baby of the womb and is quite soothing. There is usually plenty of existing white noise when the bus is on, but having a noise machine for quieter buses or hotels will be a lifesaver!

Lights out

It’s important to understand how light can have an effect on baby. White light from overhead lights, lamps, even nightlights can trigger the body to turn off melatonin, which baby needs for adequate sleep. During nighttime sleep, it’s important that baby not be exposed to any white light. Depending on where baby is sleeping and resources, here are a couple of options to help create an optimal sleep environment:

  • If some light in the baby’s area is unavoidable, exchange bulbs for red or orange light bulbs (these colors do not have an effect on melatonin.)
  • Use a portable nightlight that’s red or orange to carry around when changing baby’s diaper in the dark, feeding baby, etc. This one is my favorite.
  • Buy programmable light bulbs! There are light bulbs on the market that you can program from your phone and change to different colors…you can even program what time they change automatically, so this could be easily done without you having to worry about it every night. Baby is happy, and you get to hang out without bothering baby.
  • Block out outside light (especially at night!) Use anything to cover windows near where baby is sleeping. For daytime naps, finding a dim, but not dark sleeping area is ideal.

Hotels, day rooms, or green rooms

When alternating between a hotel room, green room, and the bus, try making your baby as comfortable and familiar as possible.

  • Use the same fitted sheet from the bus and take with you in the hotel to use in a crib or pack n play. The familiar smell from the sheet will be calming in a new environment.
  • Remember to keep lights off at night (use a portable night light…like the one mentioned above.
  • Bring your white noise machine!

The waking hours – snuggles and tummy time

When baby is up, make sure they get a balance of skin-on-skin snuggles, and plenty of tummy time on the floor. Have a few blankets for just this purpose (that way you don’t use the same floor blankets on the baby…ick) as your baby still needs ample time to roll around. I suggest keeping two baskets in the living area…one for blankets and one for toys. This way, it’s easy to take off and on the bus, baskets are lightweight enough to carry to and from the hotel, and everything stays organized.

Heading out on tour can be low stress for you and for your baby…have extra blankets, swaddles, etc. so you don’t have to worry if one gets dirty or if you run out of something…its always better to be prepared than trying to search for a pacifier at a local store in the middle of the night. By following the suggestions listed above, you can easily create a nursery that is functional, organized, and won’t take over the tour bus.

Happy Travels!


This blog was brought to you by Amber Barrett, a sleep consultant / baby whisperer / magical adventurous nanny!

Amber Barrett has 15 years of childcare experience under her belt, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Child Development and a Master’s degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Family Systems.

In addition to running her own consultation business (Seattle Baby Whisperer), Amber has graciously agreed to assist Adventure Nannies’ families as a sleep and behavioral consultant and is available for both Skype and in-person consultations, as well as extensive sleep training and nanny training weekends.  If you are interested in learning more about the exclusive services Amber can provide to Adventure Nannies’ clients, you can reach her at amber@theseattlebabywhisperer.com.

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If you are looking to hire a tour nanny who will help your baby sleep through the night, contact us!