When you’re planning a family holiday with a baby, an important thing to consider is how your travel plans are going to affect your child’s sleep routine.
You'll have a much more enjoyable vacation if you organize your trip in a way that allows for as little disruption as possible to your little ones' sleep schedule.
Honouring your little ones' sleep schedules will help make sure she gets the rest she needs to be happy, healthy, and alert during your trip, which is bound to make your holiday more enjoyable for everyone!
Here are some tips to help make sure your baby gets the sleep he needs during your travels:
Tip 1: Don’t over-schedule
One of the biggest mistakes parents make is to try to pack in all the fun and adventure they might have had back in their “child-free” days.
The fact is, when you travel with a baby you can’t plan to go bungee-jumping in the morning, swim with dolphins in the early afternoon, go parasailing in the late afternoon, and go on a dinner cruise in the evening.
It’s better to slow down the pace and make sure you schedule regular naps and early bedtimes, just like you would at home.
Tip 2: Be consistent with naps and bedtime
An occasional nap in the car seat or a later-than-usual bedtime probably won't do too much harm. Still, if your baby's naps are all over the place and she goes to bed much later than usual several days in a row, your baby will become so overtired and cranky that a complete meltdown will be inevitable.
Tip 3: Be patient as your baby acclimatized to the new environment
Even if your baby is the best little sleeper in the world at home, when you're in a strange environment, things might be very different. It's normal for babies and toddlers to test boundaries around sleep when they're someone new.
Just because you have specific rules at home, they won't automatically understand that the same rules apply to Grandma's house.
In a strange place, your baby might cry for a while at bedtime or wake up at odd times during the night. The best way to handle this kind of behaviour is to react the same way you would at home.
Go into the room every five minutes or so. Offer a bit of reassurance, but other than that, don't bend your rules. If you hang on tight to your consistency, within the first night or two, your child will be used to the new environment and will be sleeping well again.
Tip 4. Make sure you bring your child’s sleeping toy and/or blanket
If your child has a treasured comfort item (their Lovey), it will go a long way to helping him feel safe and secure enough to fall asleep in a strange environment.
Forget it at your peril!
It is also a great idea to bring their Sleepsack. Packing light with the thoughts that you will purchase a new Sleepsack when you arrive can make sense.
But I don't advise it!
Sleeping in his or her Sleepsack from home can be one of the things that can stay familiar for them in a new environment. After all, it feels like home, and perhaps, more importantly, it smells like home!
So bring the one from home, it can be a huge help with making baby feel comfortable in a new place.
Tip 5. Remember to think about the environment where baby will be sleeping.
You have heard me say it before, many times, we ALL sleep better when it's dark in the room. Blackout dark! So it only makes sense to think about where you and your little ones will be sleeping and if they will have appropriate window coverings to make sure that it's going to be dark enough for sleep when the sun is still up at 10 PM or rises at 4 AM.
It's best just to pack a few Large Black Garbage Bags and some painters tape in case you need to blackout some windows.
Another thing that you need to consider is environmental noise. If you are going to be sharing a room and you want to be able to move about a little more freely.
I would bring your child's white noise machine. Your baby is used to having his or her white noise machine blocking out environmental noises in your home, and it works like a charm.
Plus, all of the other health benefits that come with using a white noise machine. It will allow you to move about and not wake her. It will make sure that the loud 1 AM crowd that sings down the hallway will not disturb your sleeping bundle!
Bring the machine!!
Tip 6. If you’re not a co-sleeping family, don’t start now!
Another big mistake parents make is to start sharing a bed with their baby or toddler while travelling. Even if it's only for a few nights, if your baby decides this is her new preferred way to sleep, you could find yourself dealing with a big problem when you get home and try and put her back in her crib.
The good news is; most hotels have a crib you can use or rent.
You could also take your portable playpen along and use that as a crib.
You will also want to make sure that you can create some kind of barrier between you and your little one(s). Your kiddos sleep in their own room at home and part of the reason for this being so helpful is because when they wake-up (which we all do periodically throughout the night), they are not stimulated by seeing their favourite people in the world.
Seeing you leads to them wanting your attention, aka crying or calling out for you to come and get them.
It's best if they can be in a separate room while travelling. Or maybe a large walk-in closet or ensuite.
When in doubt, bring along a very dark bed sheet and several tacks.
Tack that bad boy to the roof between your bed and your littles playpen or crib.
Seriously, I know it sounds a little crazy!
But it actually makes a HUGE difference! It makes them feel more secure being in a space with clear boundaries. It will make it easier for them to fall asleep and stay asleep.
So there you have it! Traveling with a little one unfourtunetly isn't about you. Just like everything else in life since you've had kids; it's all about them! Plus we all know that a tired child is a messy bundle of emotions that turns into tears and tantrums.
You will have a much better time if you let them sleep.
Happy sleeping will lead to happy travels!
About the Author
I am the mother of two amazing little boys who did not come pre-programmed with the skills to sleep well independently. I knows how hard it is to function on little to no sleep, I understands how this impacts your ability to be the best version of the mom that you want to be. This is what led me to become a Certified Sleep Consultant and the founder of To The Moon and Back Sleep Consulting. I am also a member of the International Association of Professional Sleep Consultants. I have a background in Psycology and have worked with families and young children in many different settings for over 19 years. One of the best parts of my job is seeing the impact that TEACHING their little moon bugs healthy/independent sleep skills has on the momma's!!
To The Moon and Back Sleep Consulting
Providing families the tools & support they need to get their little ones sleeping through the night and napping like champs! Everyone has more fun when they are well rested!