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How to get your baby to sleep in a portacot

How to get your baby to sleep in a portacot

If you’re planning on travelling with your baby or are leaving them in the care of a relative / friend, you may be worried about how they’ll sleep away from home. After all, everyone knows a baby who doesn’t sleep well is generally not a happy baby.

Here’s a few tips on how to get your baby sleeping like a champ in their portacot:

1. Have a trial run at home

Set up your travel cot at home and allow your baby to have a few naps and overnight sleeps in the portacot before you travel. By keeping everything else the same, you’re allowing your baby to get used to the portacot so they should settle more easily when they’re away from home. Bonus - this also gives you a trial run of setting up the portacot, which can avoid a whole load of stress when you arrive at your destination, especially if it’s late!

Man setting up portacot - taking the Drift Travel Cot out of its storage bag.

2. Re-create your baby's home sleep environment

If your baby is usually swaddled, take the same swaddle with you. If your baby is in a sleeping bag, take that with you. These items are strong sleep associations for your baby, so by taking the same items with you that you use at home, you indicate to bubs that it’s time for their sleep. You’ll also be familiar with how to dress your baby for sleep ensuring they’re comfortable all night. Bonus tip - if you have a sleeping bag option with a travel slot, take that bag - you can safely use it in the buggy for naps on the go if you need to!

3. Take the same sheets

Depending on the type of portacot you have, you may be able to take your usual cot sheets with you, so that your baby has a familiar smell and texture for their sleep. The sheets will need to be well fitted to be safe, so if this isn’t an option get your travel cot sheets out before you travel and try to have them near your clothes to absorb your scent.


4. Use White Noise

Being away from home can be unsettling for little ones, especially with a host of unfamiliar noises. If you’re somewhere busy or out and about, white noise can be very effective for blocking out unfamiliar & loud noises and helping your baby stay asleep for longer.



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5. Use Black Out Blinds or a Travel Cot Blackout Cover


Like unfamiliar noises, an unfamiliar hotel room or relative’s house can provide a lot of distraction for little minds. Block out the distractions with an air-permeable travel cot blackout cover, such as the SnoozeShade.


And if you can’t use a travel cot blackout cover, use travel blackout blinds over the windows. These are great for blocking out distractions when travelling locally, but can be a lifesaver when travelling between timezones and you want to get your baby adjusted to local timezones as soon as possible.


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6. Use the same comforter

If your baby is old enough to have a comforter (over 7 months old), use this when away from home. They’ll be able to snuggle up to their lovey like they always do. It’ll taste, smell and feel like home. Always take a spare (or two!) in case one gets lost.



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7. Use the mattress that came with the portacot

To pass the travel cot safety standard, a portacot's mattress firmness, and how it fits in the travel cot frame, is tested to the requirements of the standard. Babies need a firm flat sleeping surface on the go just as they do in their cot or bassinet, and travel cot mattresses need to be lightweight and pack down easily. It’s important to use the mattress that came with the travel cot - don’t be tempted to add another mattress or something softer for your baby, as it can make the whole portacot unsafe and poses a suffocation risk.


If you’re worried about the and you have our Drift or Quest travel cot, you could add our quilted wool topper which has been designed to fit each of our travel cots and sit securely on top of the mattress. The wool-filled and cotton topper will help keep the baby warm in winter and cool in summer and doesn't add too much bulk or padding to the mattress".


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8. Stick to your routine

If your baby has been in a strong, consistent routine at home, try to stick to it as much as possible. They’ll know it’s time for their nap and to expect bedtime after their usual nighttime routine. An overtired baby tends to sleep worse than a well-rested baby so keeping your routine the same means you’ll have a well-rested, happy baby (or at least, that’s the plan!).

If you’re travelling for a short time, with a minimal time difference, you may want to stick to your home times, but if the time difference is big and you’ll be away for a long time, it’s best to try and adjust as quickly as possible. Getting lots of natural daylight can help re-adjust your body clock more quickly.  

9. Keep trying

If your baby isn’t sleeping well in the travel cot, keep trying! It can take a few days for bubs to get used to a different environment and consistency is key. It can be tempting to bring your baby into bed with you and whilst we don’t recommend this, there are ways you can make bed-sharing safer for you and bubs.


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