When you’re planning a family holiday with a little one, an important thing to consider is how your travel plans are going to affect your child’s sleep routine. You will 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 one’s sleep schedule.
This will help ensure your child gets the rest they need to be happy, healthy, and alert during your trip which is bound to make your holiday more enjoyable for everyone!
The good news is that you do not have to cancel all travel plans and confine yourself to the house for the rest of your child’s life! It is possible to have children who travel well, if you keep a few things in mind:
1. Don’t Over-Schedule: The biggest mistake parents make is that they over-schedule themselves. They try to pack in all the fun and adventure they might normally have had back in their “child-free” days, forgetting an important fact: They have a child now.
2. An occasional car nap or slightly later bedtime probably isn’t going to do too much harm. But if your baby spends a couple of days taking car seat naps and having late bedtimes, she may become so overtired that by the time bedtime rolls around on day two, she will have a complete meltdown and seem to “forget” all her sleep skills and just cries the house down.
3. Stay as consistent as possible: If that happens, you might start to get very nervous because (a) your baby, who has been happily chatting herself to sleep for weeks, is now crying again, and (b) your in-laws are standing outside the door repeatedly asking you if you’re sure the baby is okay. You may start to give into this pressure and bend your expectations for your baby’s sleep. It’s easy to see how you could revert back to your own familiar ways in no time.
4. It’s very normal for babies and toddlers to test the boundaries around sleep when they are somewhere new. Just because the rule is the rule at home, that does not necessarily mean the rule is the same at Grandma’s house. This may mean that your baby cries for some time at bedtime or has a night waking or two. The best way to handle it is to not do too much different than you would if the regression happened at home. You can go in every 5-10 minutes or so to 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.
5. Make sure you bring your child’s sleeping toy and/or blanket! Their lovey can provide some security!
6. Another big mistake parents make is to start bed share with their baby or toddler when they would not otherwise. If you are not a bed sharing family, do not start now! Even it’s it is only for a few nights, if your baby decides this is her new preferred location, you could find yourself starting all over again when you get home. Most hotels have a crib you can use, or take your pack and play along and use that as a crib.
7. If your child is eight months or older, my advice is to try to make some sort of a private space for your baby to sleep. This could be the bathroom (if it’s big enough) or the closet. Anywhere that you can build some sort of a partition between you and your baby, so that if she has a wake up in the middle of the night she is not so excited to see her two favorite people right next to her! If she ends up wide awake thinking it’s play time you will be in for a long night! Of course, getting an extra bedroom for your child is great if that’s an option for you.
Safe and Happy Travels!
Lindsay provides customized sleep packages for children ages newborn through 6 years old. Sleep packages include weeks worth of email/phone/text support and very detailed guidance to get you on your way to helping your child create healthy and independent sleep habits! For more info: GoodMorningSunshineConsulting.
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Author: Lindsay Zavesky
Owner of Good Morning Sunshine Sleep Consulting, Certified Sleep Sense™ Consultant.