When you’re planning a family holiday with a baby or young child, 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 one’s sleep schedule.
This will help ensure 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 ensure 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 or young child you can’t plan to do a lot of things in one day. Try spacing it out, doing only one outing or event a day.
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, but if your child’s naps are all over the place and she goes to bed much later than usual several days in a row, your child will become so overtired and cranky that a thing will be tough for everyone.
Tip 3: Be patient as your child acclimatizes to the new environment
Even if your child 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 certain rules at home, they won’t automatically understand that the same rules apply at Grandma’s house.
In a strange place, your child might cry for a while at bedtime or wake up at odd times during the night. The best way to handle this kind of behavior is to react the same way you would at home. 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. If your child is over 2 years old have a conversation with him about how sleep will look different (different room, different bed, etc) while you are travelling but the sleep rules are still the same and when you get back home it will go back to business as usual.
Tip 4. Make sure you bring your child’s sleeping toy and/or blanket
If your child has a treasured comfort item, it will go a long way to helping him feel safe and secure enough to fall asleep in a strange environment.
Tip 5. Keep your sleep environment the same as at home
Another big mistake parents make is to start sharing a bed with their baby or toddler while traveling when they don’t do that at home. For some young children this is really hard on them. Even if it’s only for a few nights, if your young child decides this is her new preferred way to sleep, it will likely be difficult on your child when you get home and she needs to go back to her crib or own bed.
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. For children 2 years and older, I recommend getting a small blow up mattress that you take with you and it can be their own special bed that they get to sleep in when you travel.