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My husband and I took our 5-month old baby on a 4-day trip outside the city. We had a comfortable cottage to stay in and we didn’t rough it in any way, but the whole experience was still new to our son. During the day he sometimes didn’t sleep the way he is used to (sleep in his car seat was brief and shallow; he would also sometimes doze off in a carrier). Then he’d get fussy and cry a bit more than usual. That’s why I wonder if having an outing with such a little baby was good for him after all.

The idea was to get him to experience new things and enjoy fresh air. He did have happy moments but for the reasons mentioned above, I have some doubts.

Considering some loss of sleep during the day and possible overstimulation, is a trip like ours still good for a baby? Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?

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Yes! Having a vacation was really good for you all. Trips with a baby are not easy, and probably not as relaxing as vacations without children, but they are worth it.

I'm sure you know the difference between 'parent-led' and 'baby-led' parenting. The general consensus among parent-led advocates is that children thrive in a routine, which I personally agree with. Structured nap times during the day contribute to a good night's sleep which is good for baby and parents. But there are those that tell you babies will fall asleep when they want to, and parents should "sleep when they sleep". That just doesn't work for most parents, especially ones with jobs.

My own experience is that there is a happy medium. You can have a routine and still break it for special occasions. Children in a routine don't fall out of them so easily. If they miss out on a daytime nap because of a day trip out, sure they might not sleep as usual that night, but you'll improvise, and they'll quickly snap back into routine when you return home. Sleep is important, but I don't think it is healthy to worry excessively about it - there will be plenty of nights where your kids are sick and they wake through the night despite their routine.

I also think there's a huge advantage to children getting used to falling asleep in a variety of settings. It makes them less dependent on specific conditions to sleep. You've probably heard stories of children that will only fall asleep in bed, with a favourite toy, with a soother, with a light on, with some white noise etc etc. Routine is one thing, but these extreme sleep associations are not great long term, especially if you want to go away on vacation or visit family.

My own experience is that, if you give children a routine but be flexible about it, a happy medium will naturally come about. They will work around your routine as much as you work around theirs. I currently have a 2 year old that is an amazing sleeper (better than her older sibling ever was). She loves to sleep, so long as she is tired, and has been sleeping 11-12 hours a night since she was 6 months old. There was no secret, just a flexible routine, recognising when she needed a nap whether we were in or out. She also sleeps anywhere - we've been to hotels, camping, stayed at the homes of our family. I believe its because we've always done these things that she is comfortable with it.

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First of all, you should not let your baby sleep for extended periods of time in a car seat or carrier.

The danger comes from letting your baby sleep seated upright or on an incline. “When your baby is seated, her heavy head can fall forward causing difficulty breathing…and even suffocation,” explains Dr. Harvey Karp. “That’s why car seats—outside of moving cars—are not safe for naps or overnight sleep for the first year of life.”

Fortunately there are a number of alternative sleeping arrangements - portable bassinets/cribs and the ever-popular Pack 'N Play with Bassinet attachment are popular and safe arrangements that can be taken with you on your trip.


As for whether or not a 5 month old will benefit from travel...somewhat. At 5 months old, they can only see a few feet in front of them, but are starting to appreciate changes in their scenery too.

And if it is beneficial to you and your mental health to travel, then getting them used to the idea of travelling may be a good idea. As well as getting used to accommodating for your child's needs when travelling.

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  • Thank you for your answer. The first part of it is about sleep in a car seat (I meant my baby wouldn’t sleep well or at all in it while traveling in the car, which is kind of stressful for both me and him because he cries a lot in his seat) and a carrier (from now on, I’ll make sure he doesn’t doze off in it - I didn’t realize that could be so dangerous!) Many thanks 😊
    – Enguroo
    Oct 3 at 3:33
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Car seat and traveling habits
Traveling long distances with a baby is not a problem, provided that you have a properly adapted car seat (which however requires appropriate investements). Portable carriers are designed not for keeping a baby inside for more than an hour, but rather for being able to move her easily, e.g., when deposing her in nursery or dining out. In a proper car seat the baby is comfortably (half-)laid on their back, with her back in the direction of motion, the necessary support for the head, etc. This pose no risks for her health, but it does require serious research of the products available in your region/country, compatible with your budget, and, most importantly, suitable to your lifestyle.

Fear of stress
Baby is a small human who is only learning about the world, and who is going to be stressed on every occasion when they encounter a novelty (even if in some cases it could be considered a positive stress.) While instinctive desire to shield the baby from all the worries is understandable, it hardly does them good: they will be stressed about going out to a new place, meeting their grandparents, having selebrated their birthday, entering pre-school, drinking from a bottle for the first time or having to eat from a spoon - the best one can do is to prepare them for such occasion, to support them throughout, and to help them to learn to manage their stress. Having a few extra sleepless nights might be hard for a parent, but can do a lot for the baby/child.

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Definitely, traveling is good for everybody :) I know couples who travel a lot, and they always take their baby (or even babies) with them. Usually, such kind of parents travel by car - it is a matter of comfort and independent planning of stops during a trip. But this option is not available for everyone, so families choose to travel by plane as well. Moreover, you usually do not need to pay for infants while buying air tickets or booking a hotel. If you worry about lack of sleep in your child or other moments, you should try to travel to the nearest destination, then your child will get used to trips.

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