When you’re planning a family holiday with a baby or toddler, 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 holiday if you organise your trip in a way that allows for as little disruption as possible to your little one’s sleep pattern.
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 your baby 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 you can’t plan to go souvenir shopping in the morning, swim with dolphins in the early afternoon, go parasailing in the late afternoon, and go on to dinner and hotel entertainment 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, but 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.
For children who no longer nap during the day, it would be beneficial to encourage them to have a little siesta especially if you have evening activities planned.
Tip 3: Be patient as your baby adjusts 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 certain rules at home, they won’t automatically understand that the same rules apply at an auntie’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 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 comfort blanket and/or favourite cuddly toy
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 and you’re FINISHED…
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 cot.
The good news is, most hotels have a cot you can use or rent. If this is not an option invest in a travel cot and take it with you.