The holidays are officially among us, my friends! If you’re planning to travel this holiday season 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 time 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 little one gets the sleep she 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 it’s hard to plan to go shopping and see Santa in the morning, go sledding in the afternoon, decorate a Christmas cookies with Grandma, and then go on a Tour’ De’ Christmas Lights late into the evening.
It’s better to slow down the pace spread these fun activities out if possible.
Tip 2: Be consistent with naps and bedtime
Obviously, an occasional nap in the car seat or a later-than-usual bedtime probably won’t do too much harm; however, if your baby’s naps are all over the place and she goes to bed much later than usual several days in a row, she will become so overtired and cranky that a complete meltdown will be inevitable.
Tip 3: Be patient as your baby acclimatizes 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 somewhere 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 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 behavior is to react the same way you would at home. Go into the room every five 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.
Tip 4. Make sure you bring your child’s sleep related pals:
If your child has a treasured comfort item, it will go a long way to helping her feel safe and secure enough to fall asleep in a strange environment. Forget it at your peril! I’d also recommend bringing their favorite blanket, noise machine, and absolutely pack some tin foil or the “Grow with Me” black out blinds. You want to try and create the same kind of sleep environment that they have at home. Remember how important darkness is to our sleep!
Tip 5. 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 traveling. 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 put her back in her crib/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.
Tip 6:Try to give your little one their own sleep space.
If space allows, try to have your little one sleep in their own room. Even if this means putting up a Pack’N’Play in auntie’s office or getting some type of 2-room suite at the hotel, it will be very helpful when putting your little one down. If this is not an option, try to create a visual barrier between you and your little one so they don’t get so excited when seeing you upon nightly wake ups. Get creative…. think back to your childhood when making forts was your JAM! Drape a sheet over a couple of chairs, etc. It doesn’t have to be beautiful, just make sure your little one can’t see you from their crib.
Tip 7: Rule of 3
So those are my proper, “Sleep Consultant tips”; however, I get it! Traveling with kids is harder than hell and no one wants to disrupt the sleep of every other person in the house or hotel. If you have to revert to old sleep habits like co-sleeping or rocking your kiddo to sleep for a few nights to get through the weekend then go ahead, just try not to allow your kiddo to get too used to this treatment. Usually it takes 3 nights for those poor sleep habits to become habitual again. Do what you need to do to survive the trip and get back on track the minute you get home! If you need help make sure to schedule a Free 15 minute call with me.
Now, off you go. I’m sure there is some Egg Nog waiting for your somewhere.
Happy Holiday Travels!